My math model favors Michigan by 9.6 points in this game and the Nittany Lions have lost fifteen straight games as road underdogs versus Top 5 teams. Under head coach James Franklin, Penn State is 2-13 straight-up versus Top 10 teams, including 0-9 since upsetting Wisconsin in the 2016 Big Ten Championship game. The past two times Penn State traveled to the Big House (with fans in the stands), they lost by a combined 91-17. Let’s also note that Penn State is 2-6 ATS versus Michigan under coach Franklin, and 0-5 ATS as an underdog.
Michigan has been dominant this season, ranking third in both points per game margin (+31.7) and yards per game margin (+3.0). The Wolverines should have success moving the chains behind a rushing attack that has been 1.1 yards per attempt better than average this season (6.1 yards per rush attempt against teams that would combine to allow 5.0 yards per rush attempt to an average team).
Quarterback J.J. McCarthy and running back Blake Corum have been instrumental in an improved Michigan offense that excels at staying on schedule, ranking fourth in standard down success rate. Michigan has scored on 59% of its drives, fifth-best in FBS entering Saturday’s game against Penn State.
The line of scrimmage remains Penn State’s biggest weakness, and the Wolverines are built to exploit it. Penn State’s ground attack is led by freshman Nicholas Singleton, who ranks fifth in the country in yards per carry (7.3) among 143 FBS players with at least 60 carries. However, Singleton ranks 111th in first downs per carry (21%), while the Nittany Lions rank 102nd in rushing success rate. Despite losing Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo to the NFL draft, the Wolverines rank seventh nationally in rush yards allowed per game (81.7) and sixth in yards per rush (2.62). Michigan has allowed 0.97 points per drive, the seventh-fewest in FBS.
Michigan’s defense is one of the best in the nation at preventing big plays and has recorded fourteen sacks in its past three games. Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford has not been near as mobile this season as he has been, rushing just 26 times in five games (mostly in short-yardage situations). The fifth-year signal-caller has more turnover-worthy plays than big-time throws this season and has posted the lowest average-depth-of-target number of his career.
Michigan is one of the most well-rounded teams in the country, ranking ninth in defensive SP+, eighth in offensive SP+, and third in special teams.
Additional Betting Content for Penn State vs. Michigan
- Penn State ranks sixth in defensive SP+, ninth in points allowed per drive and keeps its opponents off schedule (13th)
- Penn State blitzes a lot and pressures quarterbacks, ranking eighth in pressure rate
- Penn State has pressured quarterbacks 85 times on dropbacks, more than all but five FBS teams.
- Despite generating pressure on opposing quarterbacks, Penn State ranks 98th in sack rate
- The Nittany Lions rank third nationally in defensive havoc and lead the nation in pass breakups, averaging 11.2 passes defensed per game
- Michigan is 5-12 ATS against AP Top-10 teams under head coach Jim Harbaugh
- Michigan is 5-0-1 to the under this season, tied with Colorado State and Georgia Tech for the most unders without an over in the FBS this season
- Michigan hasn’t been a bigger favorite against an AP Top-10 team since October 1, 2016, versus No. 8 Wisconsin (-11)
- Penn State head coach James Franklin is 0-8 on the road against Top-5 opponents
- Penn State’s offense hasn’t averaged more than 200 rush yards per game since 2018 but is averaging 216.3 rush yards over the past four games with 14 touchdowns.
- Nick Singleton averages an incredible five yards after contact with seven explosive runs on 63 rushing attempts.
Join Oskeim Sports today and save 20% on your first purchase at the online store!