The Michigan Football team begins conference play this weekend as the Penn State Nittany Lions come to the Big House. Here are some things to know and watch for in this game.
Things You Need to Know
No. 4 Michigan Wolverines (3-0) vs Penn State Nittany Lions (2-1)
Kickoff: 3:30 PM
Where to Watch: ABC
Odds: Michigan favored by 18 points
What to Watch For
1. Key Players Returning to the Field
All-American cornerback Jourdan Lewis has been out with an injury the past three games. He was greatly missed last week vs. Colorado, when the Buffs scored two passing touchdowns on replacement corner Dymonte Thomas. Lewis was one of the nation’s best at his position a year ago, and is expected to fit in the same group this season. He has tremendous speed, provides great coverage, has great hands and also can return kicks. Lewis did get back to practice this week according to coach Jim Harbaugh, and is expected to see the field tomorrow!
Senior defensive lineman Taco Charlton is also expected back on the field this week after injuring an ankle against Hawaii. Taco is another Michigan monster that can disrupt plays in the backfield, helping stop the opposing team’s running game. It will be great to watch both of these guys get back on the field! The defense has still played very good without them, are so much better with them. They both make Don Brown’s unit even scarier for the Nittany Lions.
2. Big Plays
Although the defense is strong, I am concerned about Michigan giving up big plays like they allowed once from UCF and a couple of times from Colorado. The defense gave up two big touchdown receptions and a handful of rushes that produced a big chunk of yards for the Buffalos. This week they face an offense that has a good running back in Saquon Barkley—a big yard back. The D-line must stop the run early in the game and force Penn State to throw the ball. When you give up big plays, it makes the opposition think they can hang with you and possibly even win the game. Take away those big plays, and a team is more likely to feel defeated and hopeless.
On the other hand, I am excited to see the big plays that the Michigan offense can produce. Look for some big yardage from jet sweeps by way of Jehu Chesson and Eddie McDoom, and possibly even Amara Darboh. Chesson took one to the house from 17 yards out last week. The senior wide receivers have challenged themselves to step up and make big plays for Wilton Speight. Jake Butt has been a constant force out on the field, gaining first downs when the team has needed a play. He did have a dropped ball last week, but was seen putting in a lot of extra work this week to ensure that does not happen again. Michigan is so loaded with talent that any one of the receivers, tight ends or running backs can score from any length of the gridiron. We saw a 42-yard rushing touchdown last game by De’Veon Smith, which was a great burst for his senior campaign.
I am excited about all the big play potential the Wolverines possess. Michigan is 4th in the nation in scoring offense, averaging 53 points a game. Look for them to come really close to that number again vs. Penn State!
Visitors at the Big House
- Kurt Taylor, a 3-star running back commit from Georgia will be on his official visit according to his Twitter page.
- Toryque Bateman, a 3-star offensive lineman from Alabama. According to Maize N Brew, Bateman could commit during his unofficial visit this weekend.
- Nico Collins, a 4-star wide receiver from Alabama will be making his third trip to Michigan this year.
- Oliver Martin, a 4-star wide receiver from Iowa will be in Ann Arbor according to Sam Webb of Scout.
- Donovan Peoples-Jones, a 5-star and the nations No. 1 wide receiver from Michigan will be on an unofficial visit according to his Twitter page.
- J’Marick Woods, a 3-star safety and Michigan commit will be on an unofficial visit.
- Michael Thompson, a 4-star 2018 defensive tackle will visit according to his Twitter page.
Michigan will be hosting three of the top wideouts in the nation all in the same day! Hopefully they see how great the potential is for them in Ann Arbor. Also, there will be a handful of recruits from the classes of 2019 and 2020. I look for the Michigan football team to give them a lot to cheer for in this Big Ten conference opener!
See you next week Michigan fans!