Keys to a MI victory at Penn State

Big Ten picks Week 8: Will Michigan spoil Penn State's national title dream? Revenge games

MI (5-1, 2-1) gets set to take on Penn State (6-0, 3-0) Saturday in Happy Valley. Only Stanford's Bryce Love is better in both categories.

That night, unranked Penn State - a month removed from getting demolished at MI and three weeks after an overtime escape against Minnesota that had Nittany Lions fans booing the home team - beat No. 2 Ohio State in a Beaver Stadium whiteout. The Wolverines did so, to a point, past year in a 49-10 beatdown of the Nittany Lions in Ann Arbor, limiting Barkley to 136 yards from scrimmage (59 yards rushing).

In recent weeks, it's clear what defensive coordinators have tried to do against Penn State: Stack the box, stuff Saquon Barkley and saddle Trace McSorley with the responsibility of leading an offense.

Penn State has to be steaming every time they see MI kicker Quinn Nordin make a kick. They have outscored their six opponents 76-0 in the first quarter this season. Let's take a look at 3 keys to a MI upset victory over the Nittany Lions this Saturday. Penn State is the only team in the country not to allow a point in the first quarter this season and its four points per game allowed in the first half is second best only to Alabama (3.7 ppg). Let Barkley get his yards, controlling McSorley in the key to beating Penn State.

Head coach Cael Sanderson's squad is ranked No. 1 with 147.5 points while Ohio State is second at 136.0, MI third at 100.5, Oklahoma State fourth with 85.5 and Missouri fifth with 68.0. He gained 136 all goal yards a year ago against the Wolverines but the defense was able to take away his big play ability. "Our guys are going to have to create space with the routes, and they're going to have to make contested catches". It hasn't hurt them at this point, but the Nittany Lions could benefit if they can start making a few of those plays in the second half.

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One year after that victory, the Nittany Lions have another whiteout scheduled and another Big Ten power visiting for a nationally televised game. Ohio State will be coming off a bye week after Penn State will have played MI, and the Buckeyes have been surging since losing at home to Oklahoma. Penn State's offense will have to hold off a strong defensive front if the Nittany Lions are going to take advantage with their offense. His only problem this week will be Michigan's stout defense. Having a bye week to prepare could help. A trip to East Lansing could be tricky no matter what happens in the two weeks prior to the road game against the Spartans.

Nowhere is that more apparent this week than State College, Pa., where No. 2 Penn State begins a challenging three-game stretch that not only will weigh heavily in the Big Ten race, but also will have a big say in the national championship and Heisman Trophy chases, too. I am not expecting that kind of performance again, but if the Wolverines can control the clock and run for 140 yards or more, MI will win.

Penn State has not beaten the Cornhuskers since they joined the Big Ten, but this should be the year that changes.

Music in this episode was written and produced by Matt Freiler, a junior at Penn State.

Why? Wisconsin is going to win the Big Ten West Division even if it slips up. These physical feats have commentators buzzing about his candidacy for the 2017 Heisman trophy, awarded to one college football player in the country.

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