As you know, TBHR loves pulling in writers who cover the opposing team to get that extra perspective on Michigan‘s upcoming game. Under The Lights III is going to be a very special sight to behold, and amid all the controversy and four losses, tonight’s game against Penn State is going to be something to appreciate to a certain level. This week we brought in Adam Collyer, who writers for SB Nation’s Black Shoe Diaries.
1. Last season’s game was so messy—seven combined turnovers, low rushing averages, low conversion rates on third down. Are these two teams destined to play a similar game on Saturday night, or do you think we’ll see a more crisp showing?
No. No no. No no no. If anything, this game has the potential to be far sloppier than last year. Michigan’s turnover problems have been well documented. Penn State’s offensive line is in a class of its own (in the way completely opposite what you would normally mean). Both defenses are strong generally. All in all, this has the makings of a game that turns on sloppy and inconsistent offensive performances.
2. Northwestern is a surging team, sure, but to only score six points in 60 minutes of football is a bit alarming for this Penn State team, wouldn’t you say? What is it that Penn State needs to do against Michigan in order to get its offense back on track?
Two weekends ago, this looked more alarming. The Wisconsin-Northwestern result tempered that fear a bit, but the truth is that this offense needs to find something to hang its hat on in a hurry. To be successful, Penn State needs to have more than just DaeSean Hamilton contributing on the offensive end. It doesn’t matter whether it’s the running game or the passing game, but one or the other has to work in order for the Nittany Lions to score.
3. Michigan’s offense is still struggling, but Devin Gardner showed us a few good things last week against Rutgers. How is Penn State going to go about making sure he doesn’t find a positive rhythm?
Stop the run. Contain Gardner in the pocket. Force him into mistakes. Gardner is a remarkable athlete and has the capacity to be a great quarterback who can do a lot of damage. The new offense has tamped down that possibility, but he’s still very dangerous. Hit him early and hard and see what happens. For PSU, that hopefully means bad decisions that lead to turnovers.
4. Personally, I’m looking forward to seeing Christian Hackenberg play. He’s the real deal at quarterback, but he’s only a sophomore. Do you think the big stage affects his play at all?
Terrific prospect who has been mislabeled as a complete player so far. Hackenberg has had games where he looks like Peyton Manning, and puts together magic Tom Brady-esque comeback drives. He’s also young, trusts his arm far too much, and is protected by a weak offensive line. I worry about him if the team gets in a hole early. Otherwise, even with his youthful flaws, there’s no one I’d rather have.
5. What’s your prediction for the game?
Hoping for a clean game and a fun time under the lights. Could go either way, but 24-21 PSU after a late Michigan turnover.
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