CFB: Michigan gets set for biggest test of season at Penn State

darren cooper
Darren Cooper
NCAA Football Sports News


  • It’s a Top 10 college football showdown Saturday when 9-0 Michigan travels to State College to take on 8-1 Penn State. Michigan leads the all-time series 16-10.
  • Michigan is now listed as the favorite to win the CFB playoff at BetMGM Sportsbook.
  • The Michigan football program continues to be the subject of a sign-stealing investigation surrounding former assistant coach Connor Stalions.

If possible, this Michigan football season is about to get even more interesting. But at least it’ll be because of what happens on the field.

Already the subject of a major Big 10 investigation involving former assistant coach/manifesto writer Connor Stalions and whether he stole signs from Wolverines opponents and whether Michigan approved his tactics and used his information (and whether this information is even useful), the Wolverines now face their biggest test of the season on the road against Penn State.

Michigan is the only FBS unbeaten team to beat all nine of its opponents by 20 or more points. But Penn State is not Purdue…or Minnesota or UNLV.

Penn State-Michigan will be the featured event at every big Michigan online sportsbook. The early line at both DraftKings and FanDuel has the Wolverines as 6.5-point favorites on the road. BetMGM now has Michigan as the favorite to win the national title by a hair over Georgia.

But first, Penn State.

Meet The Lions

This is a surprisingly good, and surprisingly young Penn State team. The Nittany Lions only loss came on the road at Ohio State three weeks ago.

Sophomore quarterback Drew Allar has been steady in his first year as the starter. He threw for four touchdowns and 240 yards in Saturday’s win over Maryland. He did struggle in the loss to Ohio State, but has only thrown one pick all season. The Nittany Lions have scored 40.2 points a game on offense, sixth in the nation.

Penn State’s defense ranks No. 3 in the county in allowing 11.9 points a game, of course, Michigan is No. 1. In fact, the top four scoring defenses in the country all hail from the Big 10.

The Beat Goes On For Michigan

First, the bad news for Michigan fans, the Stalions controversy isn’t going anyway any time soon.

The good news though is it hasn’t seemed to impact the Wolverines on the field at all.

Quarterback J.J. McCarthy carved up Purdue Saturday with 335 yards – and remains a Heisman favorite. Running back Blake Corum had three touchdowns and the Boilermakers didn’t score a TD until a minute left.

The Michigan defense doesn’t have on singular star. Junior Colson has 49 total tackles to lead the team. It’s a team effort.

Breaking Down the Match-Up

The spotlight will be bright on Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh and the Wolverines all week. ESPN’s College Gameday will be in Happy Valley (of course) and there will be lots of questions asked about Stalions and his contributions (or lack thereof) to Michigan’s success.

On the field, this will be Michigan’s biggest challenge to date. Penn State has the ability to match the Wolverines up front. They are young though, but have one edge in that they played in a big game already this season (losing to Ohio State). We’ve seen how Michigan has handled adversity off the field. Saturday in Happy Valley will be the first time they face it on the field.

Born and raised in Louisiana, Darren Cooper has a fond appreciation for bayous, Mardi Gras beads and the sports betting industry. Darren has worked for multiple print and online publications since 1998, primarily as a sports columnist in the Northeast. He’s covered a Super Bowl (it was a blowout), the World Series (same) and the NBA Draft (man, those guys are tall). For the last few years he’s dug deep into the sports gambling industry as it exploded across America, learning how the legal sausage is made and how while all the sportsbooks look the same, they all have different identities and styles. He’s learned to always bet within his means -- and take the under. When not in front of his computer creating, Darren spends time with his three boys. He runs, reads and is always looking for the next big thing to write about.