College Football

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                === Penn State plays host to No. 18 Michigan ===
 
 University Park, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Fresh off their eighth straight
 conference-opening win, the 18th-ranked Michigan Wolverines get right back to
 work as they take on the Penn State Nittany Lions in Happy Valley on Saturday
 evening.
 
 Michigan is a perfect 5-0 on the season, and the team took out visiting
 Minnesota last Saturday, 42-13, to retain the Little Brown Jug. The win was
 the Wolverines' 18th in a row at home, which just so happens to be the longest
 home winning streak among all BCS conference teams.
 
 After posting a couple of closer-than-expected wins over Akron and
 Connecticut, routing the Golden Gophers, while welcomed, was just the next in
 line for a Michigan team that has very high expectations this season.
 
 Quarterback Devin Gardner spoke afterward, "We were thinking about Minnesota,
 and Minnesota was it. It was the first Big Ten game; you open up the Big Ten
 season. Like we always say, you never get a second chance to make a first
 impression. It's the Jug game, it's our homecoming game. There's a lot going
 on. This game will be behind us after tomorrow when we watch the film, so
 we're just looking forward to the opportunity to head to Happy Valley."
 
 Penn State got a monster effort from wide receiver Allen Robinson, but came up
 short in their Big Ten opener at Indiana last weekend, 44-24. The loss was the
 Nittany Lions' first in 17 all-time meetings with the Hoosiers, and dropped
 them to 3-2 on the season.
 
 While acknowledging his team didn't play well at Indiana, PSU head coach Bill
 O'Brien took the brunt of the blame.
 
 "It starts with me. I have to do a much better job of coaching. Put these guys
 in better positions to make plays on both sides of the ball, and on special
 teams," He continued, "You know, we got a bunch of resilient kids in that
 room. But we didn't play well. Didn't coach well. We got a long way to go, but
 we'll get back to work on Monday."
 
 Michigan leads the all-time series with Penn State, 10-6, which includes a 5-3
 mark at Beaver Stadium. The Nittany Lions have won the last three meetings,
 the most recent of which being a 41-31 decision on Oct. 30, 2010.
 
 Devin Gardner was an efficient 13-of-17 for 235 yards against the Golden
 Gophers last week, hitting Devin Funchess seven times for a career-high 151
 yards and a TD. The Michigan run game saw Fitzgerald Toussaint rumble his way
 to 78 yards and a pair of scores, and the team as a whole produced 348 yards
 compared to only 281 for the visitors.
 
 As for the Michigan defense, it was paced by Desmond Morgan and his 10
 tackles, while James Ross III was close behind with nine. Blake Countess
 picked off a pass in the waning moments of the contest and took it back 72
 yards for a TD.
 
 For the season, the Wolverines are averaging 38.8 points and 397.0 yards per
 contest, with near equal production coming from the run and pass. Toussaint
 and Gardner rank one-two on the team's rushing list with 397 and 318 yards,
 respectively, the duo combining for 13 of the club's 16 scores on the ground.
 Gardner has completed 60.2 percent of his passes for 1,036 yards, but his TD-
 to-INT ratio could certainly stand some improvement as he has the same number
 of each (eight). Jeremy Gallon heads the receiving corps with 24 grabs for 367
 yards and four TDs.
 
 Opponents are scoring just 19.4 ppg against the UM defense, and they've had
 all kinds of trouble trying to run the football (90.4 ypg). The Wolverines
 have yet to allow a rushing TD. Morgan spearheads the attack with 34 tackles,
 and he has an interception, 2.5 TFL and a pair of PBU to his credit. Ross III
 is close behind with 32 stops, while Cameron Gordon has three of the team's 10
 sacks, and Countess has four picks (tied for the national lead).
 
 In Penn State's loss at Indiana last week, Robinson caught a career-high 12
 balls for 173 yards and two TDs, helping freshman Christian Hackenberg go 30-
 of-55 for 340 yards and three scores -- his attempts setting a new school
 record. Tight end Kyle Carter also had a productive day with six receptions
 for 79 yards. The Penn State run game accounted for only 70 net yards, with
 Zach Zwinak carrying the ball 17 times for 72 yards.
 
 Unfortunately, the Nittany Lions had a difficult time trying to contain the
 Indiana offense, which gained 486 yards and scored the most points against PSU
 since Wisconsin put up 45 back in 2011. Glenn Carson and Mike Hull led the
 Lions with 10 tackles apiece, and the defense was credited with seven TFL,
 four sacks, but only one turnover.
 
 The Penn State offense is being credited with 31.4 points and 451.0 yards per
 game, with the pass generating 279.4 ypg (third-best in the Big Ten). The unit
 ranks last in the conference in converting third-down opportunities (.297),
 and is near the bottom in terms of sacks allowed (11). Hackenberg has thrown
 for more than 1,300 yards with eight TDs and four INTs, but he is completing
 just 59.9 percent of his tosses. Fortunately, having a guy like Robinson at
 your disposal helps tremendously, and the standout receiver leads the Big Ten
 with 38 catches for 621 yards and five scores. Zwinak leads all Nittany Lions
 ground gainers with 369 yards, and he has found the end zone eight times --
 the team scoring 11 rushing TDs on the season.
 
 Penn State has done a decent job limiting the opposition to 20.4 points and
 325.2 yards per contest, with its effort against both the run (111.4 ypg) and
 the pass (213.8 ypg) ranking in the upper half of the conference standings.
 The Lions are tied for third in the league in sacks with 11, and they rank
 fourth in third-down conversion allowance (.295) and first on fourth down (0-
 of-5). Carson is the club's leading tackler with 39, and DaQuan Jones has made
 6.5 of his 30 stops behind the line of scrimmage. Jordan Lucas and Trevor
 Williams have performed well in the secondary, combining for 13 PBU.
 
 
 
 10/09 10:41:55 ET

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