Penn State and Michigan, when you hear those two names, what do you think of? Two of the most historic teams in college football? Big ten rivalry? Or is it all of these things balled up into one cluster of memorable matchups throughout the annals of college football? Well, tonight, we get to see another matchup between these two powerhouses under the lights in Happy Valley.
The Whiteout Factor
Believe it or not, Penn State’s record in “Whiteout” games is 7-8. Penn State started the whiteout game in 2004 against Purdue, which they lost 20-13. Good news for the land of Nittany is they are 3-2 against Michigan when there has been a whiteout game. In those said games, Penn State has scored at least 40 points in each of their victories (42-13, 43-40, 43-31.) Tomorrow all 106,000 of those fans at Beaver will be rocking, which should play a factor tonight.
The Turnover Factor
In fumbles alone, Michigan has coughed the football up 17 times this year and turned it over a total of 9 times this year. Penn State on the year has forced a total of 7 fumbles and have recovered 4 of them. Michigan the past two games haven’t coughed the ball up at all, but let’s be honest they played two scrub Big Ten teams in Rutgers and Illinois. With Brent Pry’s dominant defense, turnovers will have to occur to give this Michigan offense no glimpse of hope to pull out the upset.
The Noah Cain Factor
It’s no secret Noah Cain has been the guy recently for Penn State. Leading the team in rushing yards (310) averaging 5.4 yards per rush along with six touchdowns. The past two games, Cain rushed for 207 yards and two touchdowns. With his emergence, we need to see him get the ball more often than not. Franklin, when asked about Noah and the rest of the backs he said he would continue to use a running back by committee system. Hopefully, he will change this process, but we, as fans, hope this system works out under the lights tonight.
Keys to victory for Penn State
Force turnovers early and often to silence Michigan.
Use Noah Cain as much as possible.
Get K.J Hammler involved in creative ways.
Get Sean Clifford into a rhythm with high percentage throws.
Last but not least, use the crowd to your advantage.
With all of these factors coming into play with the Whiteout and the hatred and playoff implications on the line, Penn State needs to stay focused and play smart. If they can do all of this, I see no reason why they can’t come out of Beaver Stadium with a victory.