Michigan at Penn State: Top-10 College Football Showdown


Nov 9, 2023

It’s Week 11 of the college football season, featuring four ranked-vs-ranked contests but just one top-10 matchup, No. 3 Michigan at No. 10 Penn State, which tops our can’t-miss games list this Saturday.

Have all the intel you need? Free actionable info is one click away! Sign up for our daily newsletter, SportsGrid Daily.

Michigan Wolverines vs. Penn State Nittany Lions Betting Odds

Spread: Michigan -5.5 | Total:45.5

Money Line: Michigan -215 | Penn State +176

Time: 12:00 p.m. ET; TV: FOX | Location: Beaver Stadium | University Park, PA

More Michigan-PSU: Insights & Predictions | 5 Keys For Michigan | 5 Keys for PSU | Harbaugh Responds | Weather Forecast

Michigan Wolverines vs. Penn State Nittany Lions Game Info

Time: 12:00 p.m. ET; TV: FOX

Location: Beaver Stadium | University Park, PA

Michigan: CFP Ranking: 3 | SP+: 1 | PFF: 3

Penn State: CFP Ranking: 10 | SP+: 5 | PFF: 8

More CFB: Big Ten Power Rankings | Utah-Washington | Can Miami Upset FSU? | Oregon-USC

Michigan Wolverines vs. Penn State Nittany Lions Preview

Michigan holds a modest advantage in the statistics, ranking third versus eighth in Expected Points Added (EPA) margin, fifth against twenty-ninth in offensive success rate, and leading with the number one defensive success rate compared to sixth. The SP+ ratings place Michigan’s offense and special teams fifth, while Penn State’s equivalent ranks are twenty-first and thirty-fourth, respectively.

However, statistics aren’t the sole reason for predicting that Michigan will outperform Penn State by a substantial margin come Saturday. Setting aside off-field controversies, Michigan is perceived as the nation’s top team and eager to showcase its prowess on the playing field.

Michigan’s quarterback, J.J. McCarthy, stands out distinctly in his role, eclipsing his counterparts in the conference. He ranks first in EPA per pass, second in Total EPA, second in yards per attempt, and third in completion percentage among college quarterbacks.

In contrast, Penn State’s Drew Allar is 37th in EPA per pass, 27th in Total EPA, 87th in yards per attempt, and 54th in completion percentage—which doesn’t quite measure up. Although Allar performed well against Maryland recently, he doesn’t seem to have the same impact as McCarthy.

Michigan’s offensive line may not be as formidable as in previous years, but it still has a competitive advantage, especially in the running game. They share the best yards per carry in the Big Ten and lead with the most rushing touchdowns. Michigan’s Blake Corum, Kalel Mullings, and even Donovan Edwards provide dynamic and physical running options.

The Wolverines also appear to have the upper hand regarding defensive line physicality and team toughness. Although Penn State boasts depth at cornerback, Michigan’s Will Johnson is a contender for the nation’s top cover corner, nickelback Mike Sainristil is emerging as an NFL prospect, and their safeties rank amongst the best in the Big Ten.

Despite Michigan quarterback McCarthy’s fewer pass attempts than Allar, the Wolverines have three pass catchers with over 400 yards each, showcasing a potent passing attack. Roman Wilson, Cornelius Johnson, and tight end Colston Loveland significantly contribute to this explosive offense.

This year’s Michigan team is arguably the most dynamic passing squad under coach Jim Harbaugh.

Regarding the head-to-head record, Harbaugh holds a favorable 5-2 record against Penn State’s James Franklin, not considering the COVID-affected season, which is often disregarded by both programs. Notably, Harbaugh’s history is an even 2-2 at State College, with the losses occurring during nighttime ‘white out’ games; however, the upcoming game is a noon kickoff, tilting the odds in Michigan’s favor.

Additionally, Michigan’s seemingly untested status could be a strategic edge, hinting at unexposed strengths, particularly in its running strategy. Their commanding game control, defined by the percentage of time they lead by two or more touchdowns, suggests they might have more to unveil.

The expectation is that Penn State’s offense may face challenges similar to those experienced against Ohio State, with McCarthy’s leadership propelling Michigan to a victory by more than ten points.

Stay ahead of the game and elevate your sports betting experience with SportsGrid.

Thumbnail photo via Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Picked For You