No. 6 Michigan takes show on road, starting with Penn State
Michigan bounced back from an agonizing loss and remained in the Big Ten championship race.
Now the No. 6 Wolverines have to win in hostile environments to make their annual showdown with Ohio State more meaningful.
Michigan, which trails Ohio State by a game in the Big Ten East Division standings, will play at Penn State on Saturday and Maryland next weekend. The Wolverines are behind the Buckeyes but ahead of Michigan State in the current College Football Playoff rankings.
“This year we understood to get to where we wanted to get to this season, we’ve got to win road games,” defensive tackle Donovan Jeter said. “We’ve got some big road games coming up. We know we’ve got to take care of business on the road.”
The Wolverines (8-1, 5-1 Big Ten) suffered their only loss in their last road game when they blew a 16-point lead at Michigan State. Michigan responded with a 29-7 home win over Indiana.
The competition and atmosphere will be much different this weekend. Michigan has come away with a loss in five of its last six trips to Beaver Stadium.
“It’s a great venue. Why? They’ve got a great fan base that’s really into it,” Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh said. “Like a lot of football environments across the country, it’s really good. You just kind of go with it. I’d say enjoy the stage, that opportunity. Personally, I try to pretend like they’re cheering for me (at least) when I was a player, anyway. I think I see our players taking that same mindset.”
The Wolverines are dealing with a number of injury issues to their skill players. Running back Blake Corum exited early in the Hoosiers game with a right ankle injury and wide receivers A.J. Henning and Andrel Anthony also suffered ailments on Saturday night. No. 1 tight end Erick All didn’t play due to a lower body injury.
“It doesn’t change (the strategy),” Harbaugh said. “There’s more of a next-man-up mindset than changing the gameplan.”
Hassan Haskins became a workhorse back with Corum sidelined and produced a career-high 168 rushing yards.
The Nittany Lions (6-3, 3-3) snapped a three-game losing streak with a 31-14 win at Maryland. Jahan Dotson hauled in 11 of Sean Clifford’s passes for 242 yards and three touchdowns. Dotson has 71 receptions for 932 yards and nine touchdowns this season.
“Obviously, people are going to have a plan, whether that’s bracket or whether that is clouding — having a high safety over to his side,” coach James Franklin said of coverages against Dotson. “The fact that we move him around, we line him up (at various positions), that can be challenging. Then when you motion him as well, he’s just in a lot of different spots.”
Clifford will need time to get Dotson the ball and that will require his line to keep Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo at bay. Hutchinson has six sacks, while Ojabo has recorded eight and forced four fumbles.
“The thing that differentiates them is having two defensive ends that can cause real problems for people,” Franklin said. “If you watch the Michigan State game, both of their defensive ends showed up with huge plays. When you can have a (impact) guy on either side, that becomes a real challenge to decide how you’re going to deal with both of them.”
–Field Level Media