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The Press Box Sports

Penn State Embarks on Brutal Section of College Football Schedule

Penn State Football Schedule

When the Penn State Nittany Lions take on the Michigan Wolverines on Saturday, they will start what could be the hardest three weeks for any NCAA football team this season. It’s going to be brutal, but Penn State is more than capable of surviving. They play No. 19 Michigan, No. 6 Ohio State, and No. 18 Michigan State back-to-back-to-back. Again, it’s going to be tough. The good news is that they went 2-1 against those teams last season. The bad news is that they didn’t play them all in one stretch and Michigan State has improved a lot over last season.

The Michigan Wolverines will be the first test for Penn State during this stretch. The Wolverines are going into Beaver Stadium as a double-digit underdog. However, they did win big in Ann Arbor last season in a 49-10 blowout. But things are different this year. The Nittany Lions are scoring 46.5 points at home this season. Michigan has regressed in their offensive production on the road from a year ago, averaging 29.3 points per game on the road. That’s going to be an issue for the Wolverines as the Nittany Lions leads NCAA FBS football, only allowing 9 points per game this season.

Offensive production hasn’t been an issue for Penn State on offense. They’re averaging 456 yards per game. It certainly helps that they have two major weapons on the offense in quarterback, Trace McSorley and running back Saquon Barkley. McSorley is completing 67 percent of his passes this season for 1,597 yards and 13 touchdowns. At 266 yards per game through the air, that gives the Nittany Lions a lot more options as well as more opportunities per game. Especially in the running game.

Saquon Barkley is a beast. There’s no other way to put it. The Bronx, NY native is averaging 6.4 yards per carry, 649 yards, and 6 touchdowns. Barkley is also Penn State’s leading receiver with 29 catches for 395 yards and 2 touchdowns. DaeSean Hamilton and Juwan Johnson are the other key receivers on offense. Hamilton has 22 receptions for 366 yards and 4 touchdowns. Johnson is right there with Hamilton with 24 receptions, 303 yards, and a touchdown. Michigan is only allowing 223.8 total yards of defense this season so Penn State needs all of their key players on offense to step up and make some plays.

Defensively, the Nittany Lions are pretty solid. They give up just 285 total yards of offense per game. Only giving up 166 passing yards a game has been why this defense is dominant. Cornerback Amani Oruwariye has 3 interceptions which leads the team. Grant Haley and Christian Campbell also shut down receivers and contribute to the stout passing defense. The two combine for 4 interceptions with Haley having big returns on his 2 picks. Getting pressure on the quarterback has also been a strong suit with defensive end Shareef Miller leading the way. Miller has 3 sacks on the year and has the speed to get into the back field in a hurry. The defense will also be tested in the next three weeks and will face adversity as they wear down a little more each game.

A win against the Wolverines will be a solid start in making it through this portion of the schedule for Penn State. They play both Ohio State and Michigan State on the road and that will only make the task for the No. 2 ranked team even harder. The cliche “Take it one game at a time” is often overused, but it really is crucial in a situation like this. None of these teams can be overlooked. Especially, when a team has three big games like Penn State does in a row.  We will have a full game preview of all three games coming soon here at Press Box Sports along with a full game recap of every game.

 

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