A pair of teams in the midst of disastrous seasons will square off on Saturday afternoon when Michigan hosts Penn State. The Wolverines snapped a three-game losing skid with a 48-42 win in triple-overtime at Rutgers last week. Penn State remained winless on the season with a blowout loss to Iowa at home.
Penn State loses star tight endPenn State’s defense might rank right around the average FBS mark, but it has not played well this season. Those issues were magnified in a 41-21 loss to Iowa, a team that is not known for having an explosive offense. The Nittany Lions have allowed 180 points through their first five games of the season after allowing just 208 points in 13 games last year. Their offense has not been any better and things are not expected to improve after losing standout tight end Pat Freiermuth to season-ending surgery. He suffered the injury in the second game of the season, but played in the following two games.
Freiermuth was rated as the second-best tight end prospect in the upcoming draft behind Florida’s Kyle Pitts by Mel Kiper Jr. of ESPN. He sat out of last week’s 41-21 loss to Iowa. Running back Noah Cain sustained a leg injury in the season-opener and running back Journey Brown retired from football due to a medical condition. There is going to be even more pressure on quarterbacks Sean Clifford and Will Levis now. Head coach James Franklin has been playing both guys. Clifford has been the leading passer in four of the five games, but Levis was the team’s leading rusher with 34 yards last week.
Michigan snaps losing skidMichigan was able to snap a three-game losing skid last week, but it came in a triple-overtime game against Rutgers. The Wolverines allowed a touchdown and two-point conversion with less than 30 seconds to play in the game. The teams traded touchdowns in the first two overtimes before Michigan was finally able to get a stop in the third extra session. Michigan has also allowed 180 points through five games, which is more than it surrendered in nine Big Ten games last season. The offense had been awful before last week’s explosion, combining for just 56 points in its previous three games.
Head coach Jim Harbaugh is on the hot seat at this point in his tenure with the program and now has to deal with a quarterback controversy. Starter Joe Milton was pulled in last week’s win, leading to backup Cade McNamara completing 27 of 36 passes for 260 yards and four touchdowns. Milton had completed 5 of 12 passes for 89 yards prior to getting replaced. Junior running back Hassan Haskins rushed for 111 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries, nearly matching his season total from the first four games. Wide receiver Cornelius Johnson led the team with five receptions for 105 yards and two touchdowns.
Stats & Trends
Penn State is:
- 0-5 ATS in its last five games
- 1-6 ATS in its last seven November games
- 0-6 ATS in its last six Big Ten games
- 5-1 ATS in its last six games vs. Penn State
I want no part of this Penn State team right now. The Nittany Lions are not playing well on either side of the ball and now they are going to be without arguably their best offensive playmaker moving forward. Michigan comes into this game with some momentum after picking up the win at Rutgers and might have found some sort of answer at the quarterback position. There are certainly more positives to draw from with this Michigan team than there are with Penn State. The Nittany Lions have only covered the spread once in their last six games against the Wolverines.