Big Ten: Taking an Inside Look at Michigan vs. Penn State

Here is my preview of the 5th ranked Michigan Wolverines going against the 14th ranked Penn State Nittany Lions in a critical Big Ten matchup.

The 5th ranked 7-1 Michigan Wolverines are looking to continue their win streak as the top team in the Big Ten. They knocked off the 5-3 Michigan State Spartans in a convincing win. They are in the driver seat for 1st in the competitive Big Ten East Conference. The 14th ranked 6-2 Penn State Nittany Lions are coming off a six-point win against Iowa. Trace McSorley was injured last week, but he finished the game as they will need this win to somehow get into the College Football playoffs. Both teams (MichiganPenn State) matchup up well against each other as this should be a classic Big Ten clash on Saturday at 3:45 pm eastern (ESPN). Here are some things to look out for in a critical game that will have playoff implications.

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Photo Credit: Rob Foldy/Getty Images

Will Penn State Quarterback Trace McSorley maintain poise against Michigan’s aggressive defense?

McSorley showed toughness in Penn State’s win against Iowa. He came back into the game after he sustained a knee injury and led the Nittany Lions to a game-winning drive. His knee injury though does keep him questionable for Saturday as he is taking it day by day. McSorley is expected to play. He has thrown 1,629 yards with 12 touchdowns and four interceptions.

McSorley’s primary impact, however, is mainly on the ground as a dual-threat quarterback. He has rushed for 617 yards and has nine rushing touchdowns. He has one more score than Penn State running back Miles Sanders as Michigan’s defense will have to contain him. Guys like defensive lineman Rashan Gary, who is expected to come back after missing several weeks due to a shoulder injury, and both outside linebackers Josh Uche and Chase Winovich (have eight combined sacks total). They will have to contain him and force him to make bad decisions if Michigan wants to get their 8th win.

Photo Credit: Dave Reginek/Getty Images

Michigan Linebacker Devin Bush vs. Penn State Running Back Miles Sanders

Michigan linebacker Devin Bush will be the main force to shut down Penn State Running Back Miles Sanders. Bush has 39 total tackles (2nd leading tackler), six tackles for loss, and four sacks (2nd most sacks on Michigan). He will have a big task in shutting down Miles Sanders. Sanders is averaging 6.1 yards on the ground and has eight rushing touchdowns. He also has 834 yards on 134 carries as the workhorse in the Penn State rushing attack. The matchup between one of the best Big Ten middle linebackers against one of the best Big Ten running backs will be one to watch for this weekend.

Photo Credit: Justin K. Aller / Getty Images

The overall Wide Receiver to Cornerback matchups

This game offers a lot of wide receiver and cornerback matchups on both sides of the ball for both teams. For Michigan, their top receiver is Donovan Peoples-Jones as he is leading the team with six touchdowns and is 2nd in receiving yards with 326 yards. Most likely, Penn State Cornerback Amani Oruwayie will cover him. He leads the team in pass deflections with 10. He also ties the team high with two interceptions this season.

For Penn State, their leading receiver is K.J. Hamler as he has 28 catches for 498 yards and five touchdowns. Michigan has two cornerbacks that could cover him in David Long and Lavert Hill each side of the field. Long has five pass deflections, and Hill has four but has an interception this season. They both have been tight in coverage to opposing receivers. Penn State will need Hamler to beat his one-on-one matchup on the outside. This is a must win if Penn State wants to go up in the college football playoff rankings. Michigan could use this win to further advance their status as one of the best college football teams in the nation.

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