Penn State Nittany Lions
Penn State represents a different kind of challenge for Michigan
Penn State Nittany Lions

Penn State represents a different kind of challenge for Michigan

Published Nov. 19, 2015 11:38 a.m. ET

The Michigan offense is riding high these days after posting 97 points and 1,068 total yards the last two weeks, but do those numbers tell the whole story? 

Maybe not. The Wolverines put up those big numbers against Rutgers and Indiana teams that have had a tendency to, well, give up big numbers. 

Per Football Outsiders, the Hoosiers rank 104th nationally in defensive S&P+, which is a stat that combines success rate and explosive plays allowed to measure a unit's overall effectiveness. The Hoosiers have been roughly the same whether its opponent has wanted to run the ball (87th) or pass (85th), and they have been more prone to giving up big plays (106th in "IsoPPP+, which measures rate of explosive plays allowed) than consistent short gains (61st in success rate). 

Rutgers, Michigan's opponent two weeks ago, is 114th nationally in S&P+. The Scarlet Knights have been bad against the run (86th) and worse against the pass (127th) while struggling in standard downs (128th) and passing downs (114th) as well as in terms of both success rate (106th) and IsoPPP+ (128th). 


This week Michigan will see a much greater challenge in a Penn State defense that ranks 37th overall and is fourth in the country against the pass. The Nittany Lions have been a little more susceptible to the run at 37th, although that figure could be influenced significantly by struggles defending dual-threat quarterbacks from Maryland and Ohio State. 

Penn State is 36th nationally on standard downs and fifth on passing downs while being almost equally good at preventing consistent gains (22nd in success rate) and big plays (17th in IsoPPP+). 


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