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3 Keys to a Michigan victory at Penn State

The Michigan Wolverines have a huge task in front of them this weekend, hitting the road to take on undefeated and second-ranked Penn State. Of course, there are a lot of questions about the legitimacy of PSU’s record based on the easy schedule they have played so far. Let’s take a look at 3 keys to a Michigan upset victory over the Nittany Lions this Saturday.

RUN…THE…DAMN…BALL

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Sounds simple, doesn’t it? With an inconsistent quarterback in John O’Korn, you have to take as much pressure off of him as possible. We have all seen what happens when O’Korn feels like he has to win the game by himself, and it isn’t pretty. Michigan’s run game was great last week in the 27-20 OT win at Indiana, exploding for 271 yards on the ground. Karan Higdon had 200 yards of that on 25 carries. Because of the prolific ground game against the Hoosiers, O’Korn only had to pass for 58 yards on 10 completions. I am not expecting that kind of performance again, but if the Wolverines can control the clock and run for 140 yards or more, Michigan will win.

EARLY DEFENSIVE STOPS

Michigan’s offense has been consistently mediocre out of the gate so far this year. Penn State is the exact opposite. They have outscored their six opponents 76-0 in the first quarter this season. If the Nittany Lions jump out to a big early lead, O’Korn and the passing game will have to become a bigger part of the Wolverines offensive plan, and there is no indication that will be a good thing. Devin Bush, Rashan Gary, Mo Hurst, Chase Winovsaqich, and the rest of that front seven need to contain Heisman-candidate running back Saquon Barkley, and apply so much pressure on quarterback Trace McSorley that he’ll think he must have stolen something from them, and they want it back. If the guys can make Penn State sweat (and maybe start questioning themselves) by keeping it close, Michigan will win.

KEEP IT CLOSE FOR NORDIN

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Penn State has to be steaming every time they see Michigan kicker Quinn Nordin make a kick. He was committed to PSU before switching to play for Jim Harbaugh and Michigan instead. Nordin, who is the early leader for Big Ten kicker of the year, has missed only two field goals all season. So, if the Penn State faithful already dislike Nordin, let’s give him the chance to make them REALLY hate him. The offense and defense will have to play close to perfect to keep it close and let it come down to the fourth quarter. If this game can be decided by a big-time kick from Nordin, Michigan will win.

GAMEDAY INFO

  • Date: Saturday, October 21
  • Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
  • Broadcast: ABC | Michigan IMG Sports Network (Check local listings)
  • Line: PSU -9.5
  • O/U: 45

DETROIT SPORTS NATION PREDICTIONS

DSN STAFFER PREDICTION
MATT BASSIN PSU 23-16
DON DRYSDALE MICH 23-20
ROB OTTO MICH, 24-20
CARL POPOSKI PSU 17-13

Written by Rob Otto

Rob Otto is a former broadcaster on Sportsradio 1130 WDFN, WWJ Newsradio 950, 97.1 The Ticket, Fox Sports Detroit and Comcast SportsNet. He is a lifelong Michigander, a graduate of Central Michigan University, and has an opinion on everything.

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