No. 2 Michigan, No. 9 Penn State to meet in battle of dangerous defenses

Two of the country’s most balanced teams will meet in a game with massive Big Ten championship implications

ByThe Associated Press

November 9, 2023, 12:28 PM

No. 2 Michigan (9-0, 6-0 Big Ten) at No. 9 Penn State (8-1, 5-1), Noon ET (FOX)

Line: Michigan by 4 ½, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

Series record: Michigan leads 16-10.


Two of the country’s most balanced teams will meet in a game with massive Big Ten championship implications. The Wolverines and Nittany Lions are two of four squads that rank in the Top 10 nationally on both sides of the ball and both teams believe they have the talent to win a conference title and play for even more. The Wolverines control their destiny with a trip to Maryland and a home game against No. 3 Ohio State left. The Nittany Lions will need to win out against Rutgers and Michigan State then get help from the Wolverines in Ann Arbor on Nov. 25 to reach the Big Ten title game.


Penn State’s defensive front vs. Michigan’s offensive line. The Wolverines hammered Penn State up front last year averaging 5.7 yards per play in the first half on first downs. It softened the Nittany Lions up to surrender 67- and 61-yard scoring runs — also first-down plays — in the third quarter. The Nittany Lions are bigger and stronger up the middle than they were a year ago and should get DE Chop Robinson back after the star pass-rusher missed the last two games with an undisclosed injury.


Michigan: QB JJ McCarthy. Only LSU’s Jayden Daniels (199.85) has a higher passer rating than McCarthy’s 188.68. Despite his numbers, McCarthy wasn’t pleased with his performance last week against Purdue where he said he struggled with his accuracy. He still completed 24 passes for 335 yards and hasn’t thrown an interception since the third game of the season.

Penn State: RB Kaytron Allen: “Fatman” as his teammates affectionately call him, has handled the bulk of the carries the last two weeks and has looked good doing so. Allen is a pile-mover who has worn down defenses with his grinding style all season. Michigan’s top-ranked overall defense is tenth against the run and allowed Purdue to gain 125 yards on 29 carries.


Michigan has won 21-straight conference games and 25 of its last 26 against Big Ten teams. … Michigan is 7-6 all-time in Beaver Stadium. … Michigan has scored 40-plus points in five straight Big Ten games for the first time in program history. … RB Blake Corum leads the country with 16 rushing TDs. … Michigan is the least penalized team in the country, averaging just 2.7 flags for 23.1 yards per game. … Penn State’s run defense ranks first in the country allowing just 60.3 yards per game. … Penn State has held eight straight opponents under 100 rushing yards. … Nineteen different Nittany Lions have at least one sack. … Penn State leads all FBS teams with 12 receiving touchdowns by tight ends.


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