After dominating its first three opponents, No. 4 Michigan will receive its first Big Ten test when they host Penn State at the Big House this weekend. In turn, this will also be the first Big Ten Conference game for the 2-1 Nittany Lions, but a matchup against the Wolverines is not what this team was hoping for to start conference play.
Historically, Michigan is 12-7 against Penn State and has won two straight games. Last season, Michigan won 28-16 at Happy Valley, as former Michigan quarterback Jake Rudock threw for 256 yards and two touchdowns. Penn State’s defense was able to limit the Wolverines to just 87 rushing yards on 30 attempts, but Michigan was able to find their success through the air. On the flip side, Michigan’s rugged defense limited Penn State’s talented running back Saquon Barkley to just 68 yards on 15 carries. Quarterback Christian Hackenberg completed just 13-of-31 pass attempts for 137 yards, as Michigan had their way defensively.
With its high-profile nature, it’s no wonder to see that Penn State vs. Michigan football tickets are averaging $142.90 on the secondary market, according to information provided by Razorgator. Furthermore, the get-in price is going for as high as $71, solidifying it as one of the most expensive college football games of the weekend. Despite its high price tag, fans can at least save some money on their parking at Michigan Stadium by going through ParkWhiz.com, which boasts
Expect Michigan to spread the ball around on offense in this game. Quarterback Wilton Speight has been great in early action, and a large part of that is he’s been able to distribute the ball to his top three receivers. Tight end Jake Butt, who scored against Penn State last season, has scored three times already in 2016, while top wideout Amara Darboh has also scored three touchdowns. Running backs Chris Evans and De’Veon Smith have shared the majority of carries and figure to be busy in this matchup.
For Penn State, expect the game plan to feature a heavy dosage of Barkley to keep the pressure off of a relatively inexperienced offense. If Penn State can get Barkley rolling, they’ll have a chance to control the clock and set the pace throughout the ballgame, thus putting them in a better position to win. Still, this will be a tall task against one of the best teams in the nation, and on the road in a very hostile environment.
Many have criticized Michigan’s early-season schedule — and this team should remain unchallenged until an October 29 game in East Lansing against Michigan State, should they emerge past Penn State with a win. A November 26 tilt at Ohio State will also be a pivotal game for Michigan’s College Football Playoff odds. Expect an exciting season of football in Ann Arbor this season that may culminate with Michigan’s first national championship under head coach Jim Harbaugh.