It takes 11 guys to win a football game but only one to break it open.
That’s the issue Penn State will be dealing when it welcomes dual-threat quarterback Denard Robinson and the 25th-ranked Michigan Wolverines to Happy Valley this weekend.
Robinson has been the ace up head coach Rich Rodriguez’s sleeve all season long and is the ultimate trump to the Nittany Lions defense.
Just how good is Robinson? He is ranked second in the country in rushing yards (1,096) and total offense (2,415) and will most likely be heading to New York City at the end of the year as a finalist for the Heisman Trophy.
Robinson has been putting up Reggie Bush-like numbers all season long (minus the improper benefits) and should have another big game against Penn State Saturday night.
Robinson is averaging 345 yards a game. That’s eight yards more than Penn State’s entire offense. He has outrushed the Nittany Lions 1,096 to 901 and should be well-rested coming off a bye week.
He’s impossible to game-plan for and can also make you pay through the air. He is completing 67 percent of his passes for more than 1,300 yards and nine scores. He is pretty much Michigan’s entire offense and has accounted for 18 of the Wolverines’ 35 touchdowns.
If this was any other year, I would never bet against the Nittany Lions defense, but this unit has some serious issues. They’ve been riddled by injuries, especially up front, and have gotten little pressure on the opposing quarterback. The linebacking corps, which is also banged up, has been equally disappointing and simply does not have the athleticism to contain D-Rob.
Penn State has given up 870 yards of total offense to its last two opponents (Illinois and Minnesota). Both teams will most likely finish in the bottom half of the Big Ten. They were pushed around by the Illini in their last home game, giving up more than 280 yards on the ground, and giving up 433 yards to a bad Minnesota team is simply unacceptable.
Rush defense has been the Achilles heel for Penn State all season long. They’re eighth in the conference in rush defense (144.7 ypg) and have not fared well in prime time matchups. The Nits have been outscored 48-6 in their two previous night games this season and will have their hands full again on Saturday.
Robinson is a special talent that is hard to mimic in practice. If the Wolverines had a better running back to complement him, his numbers would be even higher.
Rich Rod’s offense is designed to keep all defenses on their toes, including Iowa. Robinson rushed for 105 yards in a little over two quarters against the Hawkeyes before leaving with an injury. Iowa has arguably one of the top defensive lines in the country, and even they had trouble stopping him.
Michigan State was the only team to keep him in check this season, holding him to 86 yards rushing and a touchdown, but the Spartans have NFL talent all over the field on defense—Penn State doesn’t. The Nittany Lions have no answer for him on defense, and it will likely show Saturday night.