Penn State travels to face Michigan in the Big House on September 22nd, this will be Penn State's toughest challenge of 2007. Michigan, despite losing tons of talent to the NFL, will return enough firepower to make another run at a national title. This game will have big time national title implications and, i'll go ahead and make the prediction now, if Penn State beats Michigan on the road then PSU will play for the national title.
We're also going to try something new with the weekly breakdowns; while I break down Michigan Dave over at Maize N Brew will be breaking down the Lions. If you've never been to Maize N Brew then you are missing out. My breakdown of the Wolverines can be found below.
Michigan really does not have much of a rushing attack....aside from Mike Hart who is coming off a season where he rushed for 1562 yards and 14 TDs. He did all this while averaging 5 yds/carry. That included a 112 yards and 1 td on the road in Happy Valley. He is a beast. If Penn State can hold Hart under 100 yards that will go a long way to helping Penn State beat the Wolverines. The problem with that is that you can't just stack the box or Chad Henne, who has been playing at Michigan since 1874, will torch you. Michigan is also rather deep at RB with Minor and Jackson. Both of these guys are talented and averaged more yds/carry than Hart did. In sum, Michigan is deep and dangerous at tailback. Hart will get his touches and yards, however, the path to victory lies in limiting big plays, ball control and keeping Michigan's offense off the field.
If you are looking for the chink in Michigan's offensive armor in the passing game then you have the intelligence of a squirrel. Chad Henne returns, yes again, to lead Michigan's passing attack. While he didn't invent the forward pass he has been playing football at Michigan since its inception making hime a deadly opponnent. Chad passed for over 2500 yards 22 TDs and threw only 8 Ints. Mario Manningham returns to complete the three headed monster which is the Michigan Offense.
If I was allowed to draw up Penn State's defensive scheme to try to stop Michigan I would do the following. Bring the heat. All day. You're gonna have to leave the corners to fend for themselves, fortunately, Justin King is as good as they come. Yes, you might get beat by big play or two, however, you can't give Henne time to throw or he'll pick you apart from the comfort of his big comfy pocket.
Michigan only gave up 16 pts/game last year, however, near the end of the year they were exposed by USC and Tosu. David Booty lit them up in the Rose Bowl passing for nearly 400 yards and 4 TDs and Tosu managed to rack up 267 yards through the air. Perhaps Michigan is vulnerable through the air. This could play into Penn State's hands as, if the Lions are to go anywhere, they will need to air it out.
This is going to be a high-scoring, exciting game. Michigan has too many weapons on offense to keep them off the scoreboard. Mike Hart will rush for 100 yards give or take, Chad Henne will pass for 275 yards but 2 uncharacteristic turnovers will be his undoing. Anthony Morelli will have the performance Penn State fans have been waiting 4 years to see. If you want me to get even more specific, Penn State will win the game on a game winning field goal. Sharpen you knives haters of Loyd Carr, Penn State will beat Michigan for the first time in....well, too long.
If Penn State is going to lose a game this year, this is where it will happen. Michigan is a great football team and it could be them playing for the little crystal trophy..... and photos of Brittany Spears fellating Loyd Carr will start circulating shortly.
GO STATE! GET FIRED UP FOR THE FALL!