What you need to know: No. 2 Penn State vs. No. 19 Michigan

 

UNIVERSITY PARK — Each week, we’ll tell you what to expect, what to keep an eye on, and where and when you can catch the Nittany Lions on fall Saturdays this season.

Game details: vs. Michigan, 7:30 p.m., broadcast on ABC.

Records: No. 2 Penn State (6-0, 3-0 Big Ten), No. 19/15 Michigan (5-1, 2-1 Big Ten)

Venue: Beaver Stadium.

Weather forecast (via AccuWeather): High of 70 degrees, low of 49, mild with partial sunshine. In other words, as close to as perfect weather for a fall football Saturday that you can hope for.

Overview: Here’s the (home) game everyone’s been waiting for, with Saturday’s much-anticipated White Out game playing host to Saturday’s ESPN Game Day broadcast. Michigan’s offense has sputtered lately, and the Wolverines escaped Bloomington last weekend with an overtime win against the Hoosiers. This followed a home loss to Michigan State, and when you look at Michigan’s schedule, it’s entirely possible (or probable) that they’ll lose four regular season games and play in a mid-tier bowl. Penn State, meanwhile, comes off a bye and is ranked No. 2 in the AP poll for the first time since 1999. This all leads to Saturday possibly seeing a home crowd in excess of 110,00-plus that can help elevate Penn State to a victory and set them up for the road battles they’ll have at Ohio State and Michigan State the next two weeks.

The line: Penn State –9.5.

All-time series: Michigan leads 13-7, starting in 1993.

Last time they met (2016): Michigan collected a 49-10 win in Ann Arbor.  

Penn State wins if: The Nittany Lions don’t allow a defensive or special teams touchdown. After watching Michigan the past few weeks, it’s clear the Wolverines can’t create sustainable offense. If the Lions don’t allow any non-offensive scores, that should go a long way in ensuring Michigan doesn’t get to 24 points. Speaking of which …

Michigan wins if: The Wolverines locate their offense, I’m thinking they’ll need to score at least 24 points to win. They’ve been averaging 22 points in their three conference games, though Michigan has looked more confused than convincing, with starting quarterback Wilton Speight out with an injury. Penn State is allowing only nine points per game — best in the nation — so getting to 24 might not happen/ 

Count on: Saturday’s crowd being one of the largest all-time at Beaver Stadium. Sitting in the top spot is the 2002 crowd against Nebraska (110,753), with this year’s contest against Pitt seventh (109,898). The top six marks all exceed 110,000, and it’ll be interesting to see the final tally from Saturday. If you’ll be in the stands, there’s a great chance that you can say you were part of one of the largest crowds in Beaver Stadium history.

Keep an eye on: The backdrop of ESPN’s Game Day broadcast Saturday morning. The show will air from Old Main lawn, providing a beautiful surrounding, and also plenty of opportunities for fans to show their creativity with their signs.

Trivia tidbit: While Michigan leads Penn State in most historical categories (most wins, best winning percentage, for example), the Nittany Lions top the Wolverines in most bowl games all-time (47-45) and also boast a significantly higher bowl winning percentage (64 percent to 47).

Saquon Barkley record watch: Barkley’s currently seventh all-time at Penn State with 3,221 yards.

Season record: 6-0.

Season record against the spread: 3-3.

Prediction: Penn State 31, Michigan 13

*HappyValley season predictions

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