No. 5 Michigan aims for payback against No. 14 Penn State
No. 14 Penn State (6-2, 3-2 Big Ten, No. 14 CFP) at No. 5 Michigan (7-1, 5-0, No. 5 CFP), 3:45 p.m. EDT (ESPN).
Line: Michigan by 10½.
Series record: Michigan leads 13-8.
WHAT’S AT STAKE?
The Wolverines have a clear path to winning the Big Ten title for the first time since 2004, and maybe to making their first appearance in the College Football Playoff, too. The Nittany Lions are clinging to slim hopes of rallying into contention to play for the conference championship.
Penn State’s third-down offense against Michigan’s defense. The Nittany Lions’ third-down conversion percentage is 35.8, No. 11 in the Big Ten and among the worst in FBS. The Wolverines are allowing teams to convert third downs just 28.7 percent of the time, leading the Big Ten and ranking No. 10 in major college football.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Penn State: Trace McSorley. He has run for nine touchdowns, the most by a Big Ten quarterback, including a 51-yard score in last week’s win against Iowa after leaving the game with an injured right knee. The senior has 28 career wins, one short of the school record shared by Todd Blackledge and Tony Sacca.
Michigan: Shea Patterson. He has six touchdown passes, a rushing score and has thrown only one interception the last five games. The Ole Miss transfer completed a season-low 56 percent of his passes in his last game on Oct. 20, but threw for two scores in the 21-7 win over then-No. 24 Michigan State.
FACTS & FIGURES
Penn State has played four straight games decided by six or fewer points for the first time since 1894. … After hosting the Nittany Lions, the Wolverines appear to have tuneups at Rutgers and against Indiana before closing the regular season at No. 8 Ohio State. … Penn State beat the Wolverines 42-13 last season, with the most points and yards (502) they’ve given up in two-plus years under defensive coordinator Don Brown. … Michigan leads the nation in total defense, giving up 220 yards a game, and pass defense, allowing 122.9 yards per game. … Penn State’s defense is averaging a Big Ten-high 8.1 tackles for losses, ranking eighth in FBS.