Penn State at Michigan
Brady Hoke’s impending doom is the narrative surrounding not just Michigan football but all of the Big Ten these days, so it’s easy to forget that the Wolverines are still talented. Yes, they’ve already lost four games, including a loss to Minnesota last week. Minnesota’s only loss is to TCU, a team that just beat an Oklahoma team most people already had penciled in not just for the playoff but for the national championship game. And when all the shouting’s over, a few more Big Ten teams will have lost to Rutgers, some by a lot more than two points.
But Penn State will not be one of those teams, being the only team to beat Rutgers so far this year.
Don’t take that as an endorsement of Penn State. The Nits lost to Northwestern two weeks ago and deserved to lose by at least 10 more points than they did. Northwestern’s defense moved into Christian Hackenberg’s head early and camped out there all day. Couple that with a typically superhuman performance by Trevor Siemian and a flotilla of pass-catchers and it’s no surprise the Cats routed PSU.
Michigan can probably handle the defensive side of that equation but it just doesn’t have the offensive firepower to compete with Northwestern. So that’s what you’re reduced to, Wolverine fans: looking with envy at Northwestern’s offensive skill position players. If Penn State can keep the ball on the ground and also force a couple Michigan turnovers, it will win this game handily. Guessing that Michigan won’t make a few eye-boggling errors is a sucker bet these days.
The pick: Penn State 28, Michigan 20