At 0-3, Penn State has equaled its worst start in the Joe Paterno era. The Nittany Lions have lost to Miami (Fla.), Wisconsin and Iowa and the games haven”t really been that close the teams were just better than Penn State.
The next five games including the Michigan game this Saturday are against teams equal to or better than Wisconsin or Iowa. Penn State needs to find an advantage, but with one of the least talented teams in a long time, it just may not have any.
Michigan rush offense vs. Penn State rush defense: Walter Cross stepped up admirably in tailback Chris Perry”s absence and B.J. Askew continues to prove that he can be the go-to guy in the Michigan offense.
Penn State has been sieve-like in allowing over 200 yards of rushing per game, including 320 yards to Wisconsin in its second game of the season. The Nittany Lions have shown very little ability to stop any kind of ground attack and are allowing 4.4 yards per carry.
Michigan pass offense vs. Penn State pass defense: Against Illinois, wide receiver Ron Bellamy finally showed the play that was expected of him as he caught his first touchdown of the season. He should continue to complement Marquise Walker, who is having a career season thus far.
Penn State is allowing nearly the same amount of yards in the air that it is on the ground, to total over 450 yards of offense allowed per game. Perhaps the most telling statistic is that the opponents are completing 65 percent of their passes against the Nittany Lions.
Penn State rush offense vs. Michigan rush defense: When one thinks of a recent Penn State rushing attack, he or she thinks of Ki-Jana Carter, Curtis Enis or Blair Thomas. Eric McCoo was expected to join these Penn State greats, but thus far not lived up to expectations.
They are averaging a miniscule 46 yards per game and have been held well under that in their last two. Penn State also has yet to score a rushing touchdown.
Simply put, Michigan has completely shut down every rushing attack it has faced. Larry Foote and company are allowing under 60 yards per game with their exceptional speed and anticipation.
Penn State pass offense vs. Michigan pass defense: All three of Penn State”s touchdowns have come in the air. Redshirt freshman Zack Mills has replaced Matt Senneca as the starter, and is showing that there is hope for a Penn State passing game in the future but not necessarily in the present.
Wide receiver Bryant Johnson is clearly the number one target in the attack, accounting for nearly half of the yardage. He”s also scored two touchdowns so far this year.
The Michigan defense is allowing 270 yards passing per game to such potent passing attacks as Illinois and Western Michigan, but has not yet been broken.
Intangibles: If Penn State has an advantage, it is that the game is being played in the newly expanded Beaver Stadium. But it hasn”t helped the Nittany Lions that much, as they have already lost to Wisconsin and Miami (Fla.) at home.
Prediction: Penn State has yet to show that it can compete with the top teams in the Big Ten. Paterno could, of course, tie Bear Bryant”s all-time wins record this game, but he had the opportunity the past two games against weaker competition and his team has yet to come through for him.
Tomorrow should be no different.
Michigan 35, Penn State 10