Michigan Football: Penn State week staff predictions

Michigan defensive back Vincent Gray defends Penn State wide receiver Isaac Lutz (85) during the second half of Michigan's 27-17 loss at Michigan Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 28, 2020.
Michigan defensive back Vincent Gray defends Penn State wide receiver Isaac Lutz (85) during the second half of Michigan's 27-17 loss at Michigan Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 28, 2020. /

Michigan football travels to Penn State on Saturday and here are the predictions from our staff leading into the game. 

Only one more day until the most important game of the season to date is here. As of today, Michigan football is currently a 1-point road ‘dog against Penn State in Happy Valley.

This is similar to Wisconsin, where Michigan was a 1-point underdog earlier this season against the Badgers.

Win this game, and Michigan’s playoff hopes remain alive at least for a little while longer. Jim Harbaugh exorcises his demons in Happy Valley, and fans and media go home happy.

Lose this game, and the wind completely leaves the sails of the ship, Michigan football gets eliminated from playoff contention, and the season ends in somewhat disappointing fashion (no matter how the rest of the season plays out), because of how it started.

Because this is such a huge game, a “must-win” for Michigan, I asked the GBMWolverine staff what their predictions for this game are. Readers, and Michigan football fans alike, feel free to give your score predictions in the comments below! Now, onto the predictions.

Josh LaFond: 

Penn State is missing key defenders on the interior of their line and on the other side of the ball, will rely on Sean Clifford and Jahan Dotson to carry their offense.

That won’t be enough. I expect the Wolverines to come out swinging, punching PSU in the mouth early. Led by Hassan Haskins and Donovan Edwards (who will be filling in for Blake Corum), the Wolverines will win a game by two scores that frankly doesn’t feel that close.

31-17 Michigan

Jared Dettmer: 

The Wolverines have a massive opportunity in front of them, and it starts this week in Happy Valley. Win out, and they are likely in Indianapolis for the first time under Harbaugh. Penn State is a good team, and this is a road game, but it’s at noon so the crowd won’t be as much of a factor as it normally is.

Michigan football pressures Sean Clifford all day and forces some mistakes. The Wolverines establish the running game and pull away late to win 34-20.

Cameron Stokes

I’m not as scared for Penn State as I was for Michigan State. The single biggest reason: no Kenneth Walker.

Yes, PSU does have a great receiver in Jahan Dotson, but I think Michigan’s secondary has improved enough to limit him from doing too much damage. He’ll have one or two catches of 20+ yards, but overall, will be held in check. If all else fails, Michigan can just utilize Dax Hill and have him shadow him for the entire game.

Also, PSU has a bottom-tier running game. PSU is not like MSU in that they can be dynamic running the football and passing. Once Michigan shuts down their “rushing attack” they can make PSU one-dimensional and lay all their eggs in the basket to stop the pass.

This game will probably be kind of low-scoring, with PSU hanging around a little bit just because they are at home. If this game was at night, I’d be a lot more terrified. It is at noon and that actually really does make a big difference. Michigan has already been tested in hostile road environments.

As long as Michigan can score more TDs than FGs in the red zone this game, they should be fine. I expect Michigan to pull away in the fourth quarter and win 28-17.

Sean O’Donnell: 

I think it’s going to be a defensive slugfest with field goals being the deciding factor late in the game. I like Michigan 26-20.

Chris Peterson:

I’m going to go 23-16 Michigan. Both teams kick too many field goals but the pressure gets to Sean Clifford who makes more mistakes and causes Penn State to lose at home.

Nick Popio: 

This one has all the makings of a close game. Michigan hasn’t won in State College since 2015 and they have no choice to do so if they want to remain in the postseason race. The rushing attack leads the way and I think they get it done in a tight affair 25-23 Michigan.

CJ Mangum: 

Michigan football is playing for it’s season at Penn State this Saturday and they know it. Following the Michigan State loss, the Wolverines are fully aware that they have zero breathing room for the remainder of the season if they want to be playing for the Big Ten title and potentially a spot in the playoff.

dark. Next. Previewing Michigan vs Penn State

With everything on the line for Michigan, the Wolverines leave Happy Valley in tears with a 27-20 win over Penn State.