In a game that only a mother could love, Michigan plays host to Penn State in a Big Ten battle in The Big House on Saturday afternoon. Now, if you haven’t been paying attention to the 2020 college football season, you might be confused why there aren’t any numbers in front of either Michigan or Penn State. After all, Penn State began the year at No. 7 in the preseason AP Top 25 poll while Michigan was at No. 16. Surely there’s been some kind of mistake!
Well, friend, you’ve missed quite a bit. You might want to take a seat.
Michigan enters the game with a 2-3 record, having just picked up its second win of the season last weekend when it needed not one, not two, but three overtimes to get past Rutgers. And Penn State? Well, Penn State is jealous of Michigan’s two wins because it doesn’t have any. The Nittany Lions are 0-5. It’s the worst start to a season in program history, and it’s also the first time that a team ranked in the top 10 of the preseason AP Top 25 poll has begun its season 0-5.
So, yeah, things aren’t going so well for our two traditional powers. Maybe this game will be cathartic for all involved.
Michigan: Everybody in the college football world was already talking about Jim Harbaugh’s job status at Michigan before last week. I don’t think a triple-overtime win against Rutgers will be enough to put out those fires. Still, a win is a win, and Michigan very much needed one. If there’s any reason to be optimistic, it’s that in Michigan’s last two games, Cade McNamara has replaced Joe Milton at quarterback during the game and provided a spark offensively. While Michigan hasn’t made it official, McNamara is expected to start against Penn State.
Penn State: These last few weeks of the season will be the most challenging coaching job James Franklin has had in his career. It’s not just that the team is 0-5. It’s that the team is 0-5 as the holiday season is approaching, has nothing left to play for but pride and is doing so amid a pandemic. A pandemic that has placed a lot of added pressure on the players and stricter guidelines they have to follow. Keeping his team motivated to play and buy in will be extremely difficult for Franklin, but if nothing else, taking out some of the frustration on Michigan could prove to be a boost for all involved. A win in this game won’t fix anything, but it would be a reason to smile. Finally.
Date: Saturday, Nov. 28 | Time: Noon ET
Location: Michigan Stadium — Ann Arbor, Michigan
TV: ABC | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
Michigan vs. Penn State prediction, picks
Listen, you shouldn’t be betting on this game. I want to make that clear. There’s simply too much we don’t know going into it. That said, if you absolutely have to, I’d take Penn State before Michigan. The reason is that Michigan has shown absolutely no reason to trust it as a favorite against anybody! Plus, while Penn State is 0-5, it hasn’t played as poorly as its record suggests. In fact, in a lot of ways, Penn State has played better than Michigan. It just hasn’t picked up any wins to show for it. I don’t think it’s crazy to think Penn State picks up a win on Saturday. Plus, the Nittany Lions haven’t covered a spread yet, and it’s hard to go through a season without covering at some point. Pick: Penn State +2
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