After rolling over Minnesota last week, No. 18 Michigan will head to Pennsylvania to face Big Ten opponent Penn State on Saturday.
In the 42-13 victory over Minnesota, Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner got back on track, going 13-of-17 for 235 yards and a touchdown while rushing for another score. More importantly, the junior didn't throw any picks after notching eight interceptions in his first four games.
Penn State (3-2, 0-1 Big Ten) was playing decent football until getting crushed by Indiana last week, 44-24. The Nittany Lions allowed 486 total yards in the loss in Bloomington.
Let's take a look at the Big Ten clash on Saturday in University Park.
*Statistics courtesy of CFBStats.com
When: Saturday, Oct. 12 at 5 p.m. ET
Where: Beaver Stadium, University Park, Pa.
Live Stream: WatchESPN
Betting Line (via Covers.com): Michigan -2.5
Michigan Injuries (via USA Today)
Out: DT Ondre Pipkins (Knee)
Questionable: DE Tom Strobel (Undisclosed), FB Wyatt Shallman (Undisclosed), LB Jake Ryan (Knee)
Penn State Injuries (via USA Today)
Out: TE Matt Lehman (Knee)
Questionable: S Ryan Keiser (Hand), FB Jack Haffner (Ankle)
Probable: WR Allen Robinson (Hip)
Top Storyline: The Impending Return of Michigan LB Jake Ryan
Ryan, coming off a torn ACL in March, was a force for the Wolverines last season, registering 88 tackles, 16.5 tackles for loss, five sacks and five forced fumbles (all team highs).
Michigan has collectively held opponents to under 20 points per game this season while ranking 19th in the nation in yards allowed per play. The return of Ryan would only make life tougher on Penn State.
If Ryan does return, expect Hoke to be careful with the talented linebacker, per ESPN Big Ten:
Hoke doesn't want to do too much, too early with Jake Ryan. "This is a long-term process for him and for us." Wants to be cautious.— ESPN Big Ten (@ESPN_BigTen) October 8, 2013
Prediction: Michigan 28, Penn State 21
Who will win on Saturday?
Michigan's offense has fluctuated from week to week, primarily based on how Devin Gardner is throwing the pigskin, but there's one thing I can say for sure: Penn State likes to throw the ball, while Michigan likes to stop the pass.
Even if Gardner and the Wolverines struggle at times against Penn State at Beaver Stadium (which I expect them to do), the Wolverines defense will distance the two teams.
The Nittany Lions are averaging 33.3 points per game at home this season, but they have yet to face a defense in the same stratosphere as Michigan's unit. The Wolverines rank 20th in the nation in yards allowed per pass attempt while posting seven interceptions, which isn't good news for Penn State freshman Christian Hackenberg.