Michigan In Toss-Up Game At Penn State As Wolverines Cling To CFP Hopes

Written By Drew Ellis on November 8, 2021

What a difference a week can make in advance of Michigan football taking on Penn State.

Just seven days ago, Michigan football fans were still feeling the sting of a loss to the Michigan State Spartans.

Now, U-M finds itself still firmly in the mix of the College Football Playoff and Big Ten Conference races with a big road game on the horizon.

Can the seventh-ranked Wolverines go into hostile territory and work their way past Penn State?

Michigan at Penn State: 2021 NCAA Football Odds

Michigan a slight underdog

The Wolverines haven’t had a great history with Jim Harbaugh being an underdog during his time as head coach.

Until this year’s 38-17 win at Wisconsin earlier in the season, Harbaugh hadn’t won as an underdog in 12 attempts at Michigan.

Oddsmakers at legal Michigan sportsbooks currently have the Wolverines as a slim underdog against Penn State. The Nittany Lions are largely listed as a 1-point favorite at home against Michigan. FanDuel Sportsbook had Michigan as just an early ½-point underdog before that total rose to 1.5 points by Monday evening.

On the moneyline, Michigan is listed at -105, while Penn State is getting -115 odds in most cases.

The over/under total was at 48.5 points at most sportsbooks. Golden Nugget Sportsbook has the total at 48 points.

Michigan comes into this game 7-2 against the spread, and the under has hit in five of their nine games. Penn State is 6-3 against the spread, and the under has hit in seven of their nine contests.

The Wolverines have a 14-10 advantage in the all-time series with Penn State. However, the Nittany Lions have won the past two encounters.

How to watch: Penn State Nittany Lions vs. Michigan Wolverines

  • Who: Michigan (8-1, 5-1 Big Ten) at Penn State (6-3, 3-3)
  • When: Noon ET, Saturday, Nov. 13
  • Where: Beaver Stadium in University Park, Penn.
  • TV: ABC (Announcers TBA)
  • Online livestream: ESPN+
  • Radio: Learfield Michigan Sports Network

U-M bounces back against Indiana

Normally, the game following MSU has been an issue for Michigan, but the Wolverines handled their business Saturday in a 29-7 win over Indiana at home.

Although not a flawless performance, the Wolverines did what they needed to do, especially on the defensive side of the ball.

Michigan held Indiana to just 195 total yards, had a pair of sacks and created a turnover.

Following the performance, Michigan is up to sixth nationally in scoring defense (16.0 ppg) and total defense (297.4 ypg). The Wolverines are also eighth nationally in passing defense (173.4 ypg).

Offensively, Michigan mixed in J.J. McCarthy along with Cade McNamara under center. McCarthy had a career-high 10 pass attempts for 55 yards and an interception. McNamara was 10 of 18 for 168 yards and two scores.

Hassan Haskins rushed for a season-high 168 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries. He had to shoulder the load in the backfield after Blake Corum left the game in the first quarter with a lower-body injury.

Corum was seen eight a walking boot on his right leg later in the game. Harbaugh didn’t believe it was a “serious” injury. Corum’s status for Saturday’s game is unknown.

Still in the College Football Playoff mix

Last week, Michigan debuted in the College Football Playoff Ranking at No. 7, ahead of unbeaten Oklahoma.

That means, despite the loss to MSU, Michigan is still a real contender for the playoff should they win these next three games. Following this weekend’s results, Michigan now sits at +6000 to win the national championship, according to DraftKings Sportsbook.

Georgia remains the clear favorite at -110, while Alabama (+360) and Ohio State (+450) are among the short-odds teams. MSU, which debuted at No. 3 in the rankings but lost last Saturday, sits at +7000 in the national title odds.

Penn State ends losing skid

Penn State was once a top-5 team in the nation and eyeing a playoff run itself. However, the Nittany Lions lost three straight to Iowa, Illinois and Ohio State in the last month.

Coach James Franklin continues to find himself linked to other openings at the likes of USC and LSU, which hasn’t helped matters.

Last Saturday, PSU finally got back on track with a 31-14 win at Maryland.

The game featured a lot of offense, with nearly 900 total yards. But Penn State forced a pair of turnovers. Included in that effort was an 87-yard interception return for a touchdown by Ji’Ayir Brown late in the fourth quarter.

Penn State’s defense is actually a top-10 unit in scoring defense, allowing just 16.7 points per game. Michigan could be challenged by a PSU run defense giving up 137 yards per contest. Maryland was held to just 48 yards on the ground over 27 carries.

Offensively, Sean Clifford looked more like himself this week, throwing for 363 yards and three touchdowns.

He has been dealing with an injury suffered in the loss at Iowa. Although not missing a full game, Clifford had struggled in recent weeks before getting back to consecutive 300-yard games against OSU and Maryland.

Against the Terps, Jahan Dotson was unstoppable at receiver. The senior had 11 catches for 242 yards and three touchdowns. It was his third double-digit reception game this season. On the year, Dotson has caught 71 passes for 932 yards with nine touchdowns.

On the ground, Penn State hasn’t had much success. They rank 119th nationally in rushing with just 106.3 yards per game.

Photo by Tony Ding/AP
Drew Ellis Avatar
Written by
Drew Ellis

Drew Ellis has lived in Michigan his whole life, and has been writing professionally for the last 21 years. Ellis has covered anything from youth baseball in mid-Michigan, a top-25 college football program, and pro sports in the Detroit area. Always keeping busy, Ellis also has over 10 years of experience in covering sports betting, handling all major sports.

View all posts by Drew Ellis
Privacy Policy