Michigan Football: Why Penn State is most important game of the season

(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

Michigan football has a huge game on Saturday against Penn State and here’s why it’s the biggest of the season for the Wolverines. 

I feel like the term “must-win” in the world of sports is often used far too often. The term is often used in rivalry games, big out-of-conference matchups, playoff games, and much more in the world of sports.

With all of that being said, Saturday’s game against Penn State is a must-win for Jim Harbaugh. It is also the single-most-important moment in the Michigan football season, because of all of the potential ramifications it could have for the future.

With the most recent iteration of the AP Poll coming out, and Penn State being at No. 23, this is Jim Harbaugh’s chance to finally get that win against a ranked opponent on the road again.

No, Penn State is not in the top-10, and if Michigan football wins, Penn State will most definitely fall out of the rankings, but for that game, Harbaugh would have a win against a ranked team on the road — the first since 2018 against Michigan State.

If Harbaugh can’t beat this iteration of Penn State (a team with three losses already, and who lost to a terrible Illinois team in nine OTs) then this entire season was a complete mirage and it’s the same old sad story of Harbaugh’s teams starting hot and fading down the stretch.

Michigan already has a loss to MSU, so one more loss and it’s over.

One thing that Michigan won’t have to deal with is a night game in Happy Valley. I personally think that is either the most daunting environment in college football or top two-three for sure.

The game will be at noon, so Michigan won’t have to deal with the raucousness of a night game crowd. Lastly, Penn State won’t have a “white-out” but instead will have a “helmet stripe” game:

Personally, I don’t care about the “helmet stripe” game as long as the game wasn’t going to be at night and it it wasn’t a white-out.

The environment will still be insane because it’s Happy Valley, but day games are still typically less raucous than night games. Plus, Michigan football has been through the ringer in terms of road environments already (Wisconsin, Nebraska, MSU), so this hopefully shouldn’t faze them.

Why Michigan football has to beat Penn State

Harbaugh has to win this game for Michigan to have a chance to face OSU at the end of the season for all of the marbles. This is why the PSU game is so important.

If Michigan doesn’t win this game, I won’t care as much about November 27th, and the season is pretty much over as far as playoff aspirations. Yes, OSU is always THE most important game of the season for Michigan, but to get to OSU in a great spot, Michigan has to beat PSU first.

Plus, James Franklin is a clown. That guy confused Illinois with Ohio State after he had just been beaten by Illinois and even referenced The Big House, confusing Michigan’s stadium with The Horseshoe (OSU’s stadium).

It’s very obvious that James Franklin is not 100% focused on Penn State. A lot of rumors are swirling about him potentially leaving for greener pastures after this season to coach USC, or some other job (LSU maybe?).

If James Franklin really does want to leave after this season, then this might be Harbaugh’s final shot to beat James Franklin while he’s in the Big Ten.

Michigan can’t lose to a guy who isn’t even 100% focused on his own team, and who broke Michigan’s heart two years ago (the infamous Ronnie Bell dropped ball game). This doesn’t even include last season when Michigan should’ve beaten Penn State at home.

Harbaugh is 3-3 against James Franklin and Penn State with a chance to have a winning record (4-3) if he can beat James Franklin this year and it would leave Franklin with a losing record against Harbaugh when (if) he leaves the Big Ten.

It’s time for Jim to exorcise his demons at Happy Valley and win there for the first time since 2015. Michigan seems much more motivated and focused on the task at hand than in years past, but as we’ve just seen with MSU, that doesn’t always necessarily still translate into wins.

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Let’s all pray that Jim Harbaugh will have the boys ready to ball on Saturday. He knows what’s at stake. The players know what’s at stake. The coaches know what’s at stake. Let’s hope that Michigan can win and keep their playoff hopes alive, at least for a few more weeks.