Reasons to feel confident about Michigan

Hello Nittany Nation, my apologies for not posting in a while.  This seems as a good occasion as any to dust off my old coke bottle glasses.

We’ll start by ignoring all the crap that’s been floated around this week about PSU not beating Michigan at home since 96 and how Michigan’s won 99 of the last 100 or whatever.  We’ll also ignore last year’s PSU victory, because it would be unfair to compare this year’s Michigan team to last year’s.  We’re just going to focus on the 2009 Nittany Lions vs. the 2009 Michigan Wolverines.  So without further ado, here are 5 reasons why I am feeling pretty confident that we can come away with a victory this weekend.

#5 – Our offensive line.

Finally, in the last few weeks, it seems that our O line is clicking.  In the games against Illinois, Eastern Cupcake, and Minnesota – we’ve managed to boast very balanced attacks, and seemingly showed no signs of a struggle in moving the ball.  Albeit these are not great defenses, but you can’t say they’re worse defenses than Akron / Syracuse / Temple – and we looked 5 times better against these later teams than we did in the beginning of the season.  Which should make a difference in my #4 point.

#4 – Game Plans

The best thing we did in the Minnesota game was ball possession.  We had the ball for more than 41 minutes of the game, which is insane to think about.  This is how we win on Saturday.  From the few games I’ve watched of Michigan, they have an electric offense.  They’re exciting to watch, but they are very much a quick strike team. From what I saw, they didn’t do a great job of ball possession and running out the clock.   In fact, they haven’t had more ball possession against any of the big name teams they’ve faced this year (Notre Dame, Indiana, Michigan State, Iowa).  Against Michigan State, they only had the ball for 19 minutes – which can easily be attributed to why they lost that game.

Penn State has always been a run the ball, ball possession team – even in the Spread HD.  This is how we won against Ohio State in Columbus last year, and this is how we can win this year.  Hold on to the ball, and play Joe Paterno style smash mouth football.  Michigan’s offense, as good as it is,  can only be effective if they’re on the field.

#3 – The Return of the King

Ladies and gentleman, for the first time this year (and for the first time ever) we will have both Mr. Sean Lee AND Mr. Navorro Bowman playing an ENTIRE game together on defense.  Dear Michigan, please try to not bleed all over our nice white uni’s.  Thanks.  Management.

#2 – Michigan’s D

As much news as everyone makes of Michigan’s new offense, very little praise is actually given to their D.  And with good reason.  So far, their D has given up an average of 21.9 points per game.  If you remove both directional Michigans and a school from Delaware from those totals, they have given up 30.8 points per game against “good” competition.  Including giving up 33 points to Indiana at home.  This is clearly an advantage in our offense’s favor.

#1 – Our Secondary

After this past week, my lips are officially stained blue with the Kool-Aid.  The defensive improvement in our team from last year to this year is no more evident than in our secondary.  Eric Decker, who is one of the greatest wide receivers in the NCAA today, had no answers for us last Saturday.  We did what no other team could do, we shut him down.  And by “we”, I mean AJ Wallace.  The man has officially lived up to the hype and he is a real shut down corner.  I haven’t felt this good about our secondary in four years, since the days when we had Zemaitis running havoc back there.

I’d have to disagree with Mike’s assessment on the podcast this week (posted below), I do think that Tate Forcier is a real deal quarterback.  He almost reminds me of a Michael Robinson type.  He’s a gifted athlete, who makes smart decisions, and he is able to give the extra effort to get his team the win.  Now, it might not always be evident this year – he still makes some Freshman mistakes, and it seems like he’s been battling a slew of injuries all season – but I think that he’s a big time player.  However, with our secondary, I think we’re going to severely limit his options.  And with our linebackers, I think we’re going to severely limit his quality of life.

All in all, it seems that our team has come together now – 8 weeks into the season – and aside from lingering issues on special teams there’s not many weak spots that teams can exploit.  Against Michigan I think we particularly match up well.

My prediction – Penn State 31 – Michigan 17

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