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Penn State Nittany Lions vs. Michigan Wolverines Free Pick 10/12/13

Michigan Wolverines (5-0) at Penn State Nittany Lions (3-2)

College Football: Saturday, October 12, 2013 at 5:00 pm (Beaver Stadium)

The Line: Penn State Nittany Lions +3 See the Latest Odds

TV: ESPN HD

The Michigan Wolverines look to stay perfect this season as the Wolverines head to Happy Valley on Saturday to face the Penn State Nittany Lions.

The Penn State Nittany Lions started the season off strong again in 2013, but have since fallen off a bit, dropping two of their last three.  Penn State’s latest loss came this weekend as the Nittany Lions were upset by the Hoosiers and their high-powered, fast paced attack.  The Nittany Lions passing attack isn’t as dynamic as it was last season, but that is to be expected somewhat with a true freshman under center.  Christian Hackenberg for the Nittany Lions is still completing nearly 60 percent of his passes on the year, with eight touchdowns against four picks on the season.  Hackenberg has shown real promise, and should turn out to be one of the better quarterbacks to come out of Penn State, but this weekend will be tough for him, facing at stout Wolverine defense.  The Nittany Lion ground game has struggled this season, averaging just 4.2 yards per carry on the year, for 171 yards per game.  Defensively, the Nittany Lions are solid, holding opponents to just 4.6 yards per play on the year.  Penn State is going to have to try and limit their mistakes against the Wolverines and I don’t think the Nittany Lions have the ability to come back against this Wolverine team if they fall behind early and are forced to air it out.  The Nittany Lions are right at 50/50 run to pass ratio on the season, and that is something that will need to continue on Saturday if they have a shot.

Penn State Nittany Lions vs. Michigan Wolverines Free Pick 10/12/13

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Wolverines are sitting at 5-0 this season, but it hasn’t always been pretty as the Wolverines have been in a few nail biters.  The Wolverines were able to get a nice win this past weekend, defeating the Minnesota Golden Gophers 42-13 in the battle for the Little Brown Jug.  The Wolverines offense has been better as of late, but Michigan’s inability to run the ball effectively on a consistent basis has me worried. Michigan is averaging just 4.5 yards per rush this season, ranking the Wolverines 52nd in the nation on the ground.  That isn’t horrible, but with the talent the Wolverines have in their backfield, that should be higher.  Michigan’s passing attack is very effective, ranking 14th in the nation with an average of 8.8 yards per attempt.  Michigan likes to keep it on the ground, rushing nearly 60 percent of the time this season, and against the Nittany Lions that could mean tough sledding as Penn State is allowing just 3.2 yards per attempt on the ground.  If Michigan is going to beat the Nittany Lions on Saturday, it will have to be through the air.  Jeremy Gallon has been a weapon for the Wolverines this season and look for Gardner to look his way early and often on Saturday. 

The total has gone over in seven of the last ten games for the Wolverines, and the total has gone over in four of the last six games for the Wolverines when playing on the road against Penn State.  The Nittany Lions are 4-1 SU in their last five home games, and the total has gone over in six of the last seven games for Penn State at home.  The Wolverines have won seven the last ten meetings between them and the Nittany Lions, going 5-5 against the spread in that span.

I’m going to have to take the Nittany Lions here.  The Wolverines have struggled at times this season, and facing the Nittany Lions in Happy Valley won’t be easy.  It will be interesting to see how the quarterbacks play, and I look for a more conservative game plan, especially early on from these two coaches.  After last weekend’s loss to the Hoosiers, I think the perception of this Nittany Lion team has dropped a bit, giving us a better price on this game.  I like the Nittany Lions winning outright on Saturday.

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Penn State +3

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