Staff Picks: Michigan vs. Penn State

Both programs are struggling in 2020, but someone has to win.
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The contest between Penn State and Michigan is not the matchup that most thought it would be before the season began, but someone has to win in Ann Arbor today.

Penn State is sitting at an unimaginable 0-5, while Michigan is 2-3 after using three overtimes periods to get by Rutgers last week. To say that both programs are struggling would be an understatement.

Because of their injury issues, inconsistent play and questions at quarterback, it's really tough to pick a winner, but we tried our best.

Christopher Breiler

We already know the storylines: Michigan finally has a bit of momentum thanks to the heroics of Cade McNamara last Saturday in Piscataway. On the other side, Penn State is the only team left in the Big Ten that has failed to win a single game in 2020. Everything is telling me to trust that Michigan will take care of business this weekend at home - except my gut. Maybe it’s the large amount of turkey, mash potatoes, gravy, and beer still left in my system that is affecting my brain, or maybe it’s my trust issues with Michigan. Regardless of what’s causing it, I’m picking Penn State.

Michigan is the only team remaining on Penn State’s schedule that means anything to them. A win wouldn’t salvage the season by any stretch for the Nittany Lions, but handing Harbaugh another loss this weekend would certainly be something (the only thing) for Franklin to hang his hat on.

I want Michigan to win. I expect Penn State to win.

Penn State 31, Michigan 28

Brandon Brown

I said it before and I'll say it again — I'm not going to be fooled by this team again.

It was absolutely impossible for me to pick Rutgers last week, yet Jim Harbaugh and Michigan almost made a dummy out of me again. 

This week, against a struggling yet talented Penn State team, I just don't expect Michigan to execute well enough on either side of the ball to get the job done because that's what we've seen week after week.

The Nittany Lions have been hit extremely hard by injuries and both Sean Clifford and Will Levis are giving the ball to the other team too much, but they're still the most talented team Michigan will have faced this year, at least on paper.

I expect Cade McNamara to play well, but with Michigan's defense making every team look like the Greatest Show on Turf, I just can't confidently pick them to beat anyone with a pulse.

Penn State 24, Michigan 20

Matthew Lounsberry

What was once a highly-anticipated matchup in the Big Ten East has turned into the 'Disappointment Bowl' in Ann Arbor. No conference team has been a bigger letdown than Penn State, who was a preseason Top 10 club but is winless through five games. Meanwhile, Michigan has also failed to live up to expectations with a 2-3 record through Week 5. The Nittany Lions fell by one point on a controversial two-point conversion against Indiana, and played within two touchdowns of Ohio State. Those results give me pause as I considered who has the upper hand in this matchup. The Wolverines were outclassed by the Hoosiers three weeks ago. Yet, Penn State appears to be a team going backwards, having been blown out by Iowa last week and beaten by 1-4 Nebraska two weeks ago. Michigan appears to be moving forward with Cade McNamara at quarterback, after the redshirt freshman led the Wolverines to a come-from-behind victory over Rutgers last week. I expect this to be a white-knuckle game, and I'll go with the Wolverines at home.

Michigan 34, Penn State 31

Jake Sage

How the mighty have fallen. Before the season nobody could have expected that in game number six of the season Penn State and Michigan would have only two wins combined. While Michigan looked defeated after the loss against Wisconsin, Penn State has looked worse. Michigan finally found something last week in Cade McNamara, while the Nittany Lions are still in search for good quarterback play. In their last five games Penn State’s offense hasn’t scored over 25 points, while their defense has not allowed less than 30. It’s hard to find a team that came in with higher expectations and is reeling worse than Michigan; however, Penn State is that team. Both of these big name programs are far from where they want to be right now, but Michigan showed some life on offense last week, which is more than Penn State has shown in the last five weeks.

Michigan 38, Penn State 28