Saturday, October 14, 2006

Michigan Wolveines will win big

Tonight's game has me as nervous as I've felt all year. The student paper, The Michigan Daily, didn't make me feel any more comfortable by predicting a 20-17 win by Penn State.

Penn State is a better team than their 4-2 record indicates. Their two losses came against Notre Dame and Ohio State. They have the 15th best defense in the nation, allowing only 79.5 yards per game.

There is a revenge factor involved - Last season, Penn State came into Michigan with a 6-0 record, and walked off the field one second away from a holding on to their perfect record, after Manningham made that memorable catch.

The game is on the road, at night, in one of the loudest stadiums in the country.

Enough about the negativity. The lesson to take here is that Penn State is an opponent worthy of respect.

The two common opponents Michigan and Penn State have shared are Minnesota and Notre Dame. Michigan blew away Notre Dame, while Penn State was blown away by Notre Dame. Michigan easily handled Minnesota, while Penn State needed a very questionable pass interference call on 4th down in overtime against the Golden Gophers. order to eak out a victory.

Penn State has comparable team stats in several categories - Rush Defense, Rush Offense, Passing Offense, Passing Defense, Points Scored, etc, but in every case, Michigan is superior.

Penn State has a strong rushing defense, giving up 2.52 yards per carry, but Michigan has a superior offensive line, averaging 4.52 yards per carry. Michigan will rely on Mike Hart to move the ball. If Michigan can win the battle for yards on the line, it will make things a lot easier.

The key to this game will be the Michigan defense. Running back Tony Hart has put up big numbers so far this season, but he has not faced the number one rush defense in the country. The Michigan defensive line will hold serve, forcing Morelli to pass the ball. Henne is a far superior quarterback to Anthony Morelli. Morelli has thrown 6 touchdowns and 5 interceptions, with a 56% completion rate, compared to Henne at 13 touchdowns and 4 interceptions, and a 62% completion rate. Michigan's defensive line will hurry up Morelli all game long, and expect the secondary to eat his inaccurate passes for lunch. Look for 2-3 interceptions from Burgess, Hall and company to ultimately decide the game.

Breaston, Mundy and Henne are playing in their home state for the first time in his career. With Manningham out of the lineup, Breaston will step up in his leadership role and play his biggest game of the season. Look for several big returns to give the Wolverines good field position, and watch #15 move the chains all game long with short passing routes. Breaston has been somewhat inconsistent this year, but he always steps up in important games. Look for Breaston to pick up 200+ all purpose yards.

On paper, a Manningham-less Wolverine lineup looks like it might have some difficulty against Penn State on the road, but this game shouldn't even be close. Michigan wins the game with a superior quarterback, a superior defensive line, and a superior offensive line.

Final Score: Michigan 31 - Penn State 17