Big Ten Football Preview: Penn State Nittany Lions at (4) Michigan Wolverines

Amara Darboh and the Wolverines are 3-0 and possess the No. 4 national ranking through its matchup with Penn State this week.
Amara Darboh and the Wolverines are 3-0 and possess the No. 4 national ranking through its matchup with Penn State this week.

Penn St – (4) Michigan
Time: 3:30 PM ET (ABC)
Spread: MIC -4.5
Total: 10.5

Betting odds c/o 5dimes

The No. 4 ranked Michigan Wolverines have come out of the gate 3-0 with victories over Hawaii, UCF and Colorado. Now the real fun begins as the Big Ten schedule kicks off with visiting Penn State. NCAA football oddsmakers are setting the line 4.5 points in favor of the hosting Wolverines.

Last week the Wolverines knocked off Colorado 45-28. Wilton Speight threw 16 of 30 for 229 yards and a TD and the Wolverines rushed for 168 yards on 41 attempts. Jake Butt led the receiving corp with seven catches for 87 yards and Grant Perry and Amara Darboh both caught for over 50 yards in the game as well, while Darboh hauled in the lone Wolverines’ receiving TD.

De’Veon Smith led the backfield with 87 yards and a TD on 11 carries, and Jesu Chesson rushed for 25 yards on three carries with a TD. Speight struggled moving the football from the QB position with just -14 yards on six carries. The Wolverines still averaged 4.1 yards per carry 10 players got in on the 41 team carries.

Speight has thrown 51 of 80 (63.8 percent) on the season for 686 yards. He has eight TD passes and just one interception, while having amassed a passer rating of 166.3. He is dealing with a shoulder injury he sustained last week—but he is expected to be fine.

Darboh is the leading target with 10 catches for 204 yards and four TDs. Darboh also has a 45-yard receiving TD on the year, and Butt has done his part too. Butt has 192 yards and a team-high 15 receptions, while Chesson has contributed another 127 yards on seven catches.

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In the backfield, the Wolverines have ridden Chris Evans, Smith and Ty Isaac all for 21 or more carries this season. Smith leads the team in attempts with 27 (152 yards), but Evans leads the team in yardage with 157 yards on 7.5 yards per attempt this season. The Wolverines average 4.9 yards per carry as a team, and have rushed for an average of 3.0 rushing TDs per game.

Penn State defeated Temple 34-27 to bounce back from its week 2 loss to Pitt. Trace McSorley had a big game, throwing 18 of 24 for 287 yards and a TD. He did throw one interception to Delvon Randall. WR Chris Godwin led the way with 117 yards on seven catches, scoring the lone Penn State receiving TD while also recording a 52-yard catch in the game.

Saquon Barkley rushed for 68 yards on nine carries with one of the three PSU’ rushing TDs. He is battling an ankle injury but is expected to play this week.

McSorley struggled rushing the football with just eight yards on nine carries, but the Nittany Lions gained 116 rushing yards and had 403 total yards of offense in the game.

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McSorley is a sophomore whose first chance at a full-time starting gig came this season. He showed flashes last year as a freshman with 185 yards on 20 of 40 passing, but the bar is set pretty high for the Ashburn, Virginia product. McSorley has thrown two picks this season and been sacked five times, but he does boast a 9.20 yard per attempt average and a 64.4 percent completion clip.

McSorley has thrown interceptions both of the past two weeks, though the Temple game might be considered his finest of the season given his 75 percent completion clip and 287 yards on the efficiency. This game is expected to be a low-scoring one by college football oddsmakers, and keeping his turnovers down will be the key if PSU is to upset the No. 4 ranked Wolverines.

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