By Travis Johnson
The Associated Press
UNIVERSITY PARK – When his teammates left practice earlier this week, Penn State defensive ends Adisa Isaac, Chop Robinson and Dani Dennis-Sutton remained in the end zone.
The Nittany Lions’ ninth-ranked quarterbacks stuttered and the bullpen ran around and through the assistant coaches, adding to their massive workload ahead of time.
Penn State, boasting the nation’s second-ranked defense, is looking to upend Michigan’s top-ranked defense while No. 2 Wolverines (9-0, 6-0 Big Ten, No. 3 CFP) will visit Beaver Stadium on Saturday.
“This is a showcase game for our defense because you know a lot of people around the country believe that Penn State can’t do anything,” Kalen King said. “And I feel like this game is a good opportunity for us to come out and prove ourselves against a strong team like Michigan.”
The Nittany Lions (8-1, 5-1, No. 10 CFP) are also looking to keep their conference title hopes alive. The Wolverines, who have arguably been as successful on offense as they have been on defense, could end them.
They have thwarted everything that every opponent has thrown at them so far.
Michigan is allowing just 6.7 points and 231.4 yards per game. No team has taken a single snap inside Michigan’s 10-yard line this season.
But the Wolverines know this game won’t be easy.
“It’s a very talented team,” Michigan forward JJ McCarthy said. “They are well trained. It will be good for us to see where we are. “
The Wolverines are in control of their own destiny. They play at Maryland on Nov. 18 before hosting No. 3 Ohio State in the season finale. For the game to make more sense, Michigan will have to deal with a growing offense from Penn State, which has been playing well since being shut out by Ohio State in a 20-12 loss on Oct. 21.
The Nittany Lions have scored 30 or more points in every game except the one at Columbus. He has scored 84 points and totaled 746 yards over the past two weeks.
“It’s one of those games where we can’t kill ourselves with the offense because they’re going to win,” Penn State quarterback Drew Allar said. “We’ve just got to do a good job of, you know, getting rid of all the mistakes that you know can come back to bite us.”
Ever since Michigan’s alleged sign-stealing attack came to light nearly three weeks ago, coach Jim Harbaugh and his players have been dealing with confusion.
Zak Zinter, an All-Big Ten guard, has embraced the outdoors.
He said: “There is a lot of noise outside the building.” “If someone thinks we are wrong, I don’t have a problem. Sometimes, the villain wins and gets rid of the hero. “
McCarthy had great chemistry with Roman Wilson and Cornelius Johnson who combined for 60 catches, 1,011 yards and 11 touchdowns.
It’s a cause for concern for a Penn State secondary that has allowed nearly 280 passing yards and two touchdowns per game over the past three weeks.
King said he is preparing for his personal fight against Marvin Harrison Jr. in Columbus.
“That loss, it brought us closer,” King said. “I feel like this time in November is when we talk a lot.”
Michigan running back Blake Corum hasn’t faced a defense like Penn State’s this season.
“Penn State is a great football team,” Corum said. “Great defense, top 10 in every category.”
Corum is good, too. He has an FBS-high 16 touchdowns, scoring everyone on the ground.
Although the Wolverines will be facing a ranked team for the first time since losing to TCU in the 2022 College Football Playoffs, Harbaugh insisted that the former foes have battled.
Odds & ends
Michigan is the team with the fewest penalties in the country averaging just 2.7 flags per game.
Penn State’s offense has used wristbands to call plays several times this year and will do so again Saturday.