Before I leave, time for my short preview.
Offensive Line: solid. Probably the only unit that hasn't really malfunctioned for the Wolverines. Since this is where the ball begins every play, they have the advantage here. Expect Long to be an absolute beast. My advice? Attack where he isn't.
RB: Hart will be shouldering the burden of beating PSU. His line is good, and Hart rarely makes mistakes; hence why I have him ranked as the top RB in the B10. Yes, he is clearly better than PJ Hill. Weakness? Well, before this year, Hart rarely fumbled. He has fumbled in every game this year in which the opponant had a semi-conscious defense. Still, he is quick to the outside and can block.
WR/TE: Manningham and Arrington pose a dangerous all around threat. The trick is getting them the ball. I know absolutely nothing about Michigan TEs.
QB: I will say this about Mallett: the kid actually enjoys the game. Which is great when Mike Hart is bludgeoning the other team's D into submission, and you are only forced to throw 15 times. The caveat is that he looked comfortable in the red zone: 3 TD passes. One can only wonder why, when the game was easily in hand, they didn't give Mallett more of an opportunity to throw and get comfortable? He only completed 7 passes.
He is about as mobile as Morrelli, which is good considering he stands 6-7. And he has no clue how to celebrate in the endzone. I have the feeling he will greatly improve on this in the next 3-4 years.
ST/K: Emporer Zoltan the wise and terrible overlord is a great punter-he was Michigan's best player through the first two games. Michigan lost Sears due to drugs, but most fans don't really see this as a loss. FG unit is still suspect, but KR and PR are on par with PSU.
D-line: The line finally had a good week, although staring at Jimmy Clausen would make go into "Waterboy" mode. If the front 4 get no pressure, Michigan will have to rely on it's back 7 for coverage. Which they don't want to do.
LB/DB: Weak in coverage. Every team that has gotten some pocket protection has beat them by spreading them out. LBs showed chutzpah last week in stopping the running game, albeit against ND. I fully expect Crable to be providing pressure on every play. App. state and Oregon both had success running outside of the tackles.
O-line: We are hurting. Shaw is out, making our right side a bit under experienced for what they are going to be facing. Reports indicate Wisnewski did look competent last week, but this is Michigan. The are going to attack Morelli from the get-go. The answer? Either keep Quarless lined up on the right side, or keep Kinlaw or Hahn out there for blocking on the passing downs.
RB: It was stated preseason that Scott does well when he has no pressure on him, as shown by the Orange Bowl stats. Doesn't translate here-Michigan = pressure. I expect him to fumble and be benched. Insert Kinlaw and the theme song from "Rocky".
QB: ugh. Morelli is the most bi-polar qb in college football. There are plays where he looks stellar. Than he throws up a pick-6 to ND. I don't get it.
WR/TE: Bell and Golden are right there in talent level with Michigans wideouts. Our other wr/hobbits have shown incredible possession skills in the last few games given that the passes were mostly off target. Just once i would like to see King get hit in stride with some room to work. TE teetotaler Quarless is simply going to rule this game over the middle and in the red zone. Provided the game plan calls for passes over the middle and in the red zone. DAMMIT.
ST/K: Junior Jeremy Boone is the only mortal that blood-god Zoltan bows to in the B10. Kelly has been superb with touchbacks, and has shown marginal improvement in FG. The punt return of Zbikowski in the ND game still gives me pause with our coverage.
D-line: Ever game these guys are getting better. This week they face the first real test-the Mich. o-line. I expect them to receive plenty of LB support, and would have loved to see Abe Koroma playing in this game. Their plan will be simple-stop Hart from running up the middle. Let the LBs take care of the flanks.
LB/DB: HOMER ALERT-PSU HAS THE BEST BACK 7 IN THE B10!!!!!!
Any fan of either team that states that there team is definitively going to win is lying to your face, and you should tell them that baby Jesus just cried.
On one side, this game will come down to if Hart can strap Michigan on his back and make them win. Can the PSU def stop him? I think so, but it is still a tall order given Mich's line is full of pimps, not hos.
On the other side, what will the PSU gameplan be? They tend to be Duke-like conservatives on the road, especially against Michigan. JoePa state in his PC this week that we will be playing "our-style" of football, which gives me the Heebie Jeebies.
Michigan will win if:
...Hart dominates, setting up easy passes for Mallett-see last week. The Michigan Defense gives up less than 17 Points. Hart doesn't fumble.
Key player of the game: Hart. Surprise.
PSU will win if:
...We spread the field with 4 receivers. Morelli gets 3-4 seconds in the pocket. We win the turnover battle. Kevin Kelly hits all field goals. Openning up the playbook earlier, say second quarter.
Key player of the game: Morelli. Specifically, Morelli to Quarless.
Final Prediction: hold onto your sphincters, I have no idea what PSU is going to come out with. PSU 24-14.