Penn State Preview: Michigan

Each week, we’ll tell you what to expect, what to keep an eye on, and where and when you can catch the Nittany Lions this football season. Let’s breakdown all the info you need for Penn State’s matchup with Michigan.

Game Details: No. 6 Michigan at Penn State. Noon ET kick-off. Broadcast is on ABC.

Venue: Beaver Stadium.

Weather Forecast (via AccuWeather): Clouds and breaks of sun; cooler with a brief shower or two; cold enough during and after the game for wet snowflakes. High of 43.

The Line: Michigan -1.5 (via SI SportsBook)

All-Time Series: Michigan leads 14-10.  

Last Meeting: Penn State won 27-17 last season at Michigan Stadium.

Last Week: Penn State snapped a three-game losing with a 31-14 win over Maryland. Michigan rebounded from a tough loss at Michigan State by thumping Indiana, 29-7.

Penn State v. Maryland (Steve Manuel/The Football Letter)

Other Big Ten Games This Weekend: 
– Northwestern at No. 18 Wisconsin (Noon ET, ESPN2)
– Rutgers at Indiana (Noon ET, BTN)
– No. 19 Purdue at No. 4 Ohio State (3:30 PM ET, ABC)
– Minnesota at No. 20 Iowa (3:30 PM ET, BTN)
– Maryland at No. 7 Michigan State (4 PM ET, FOX)

Throwback Classic: 2008. Penn State 46, Michigan 17.

The week leading up to the showdown against the Wolverines was typically jovial at University Park.

Fans camped outside Beaver Stadium starting on Monday, and hundreds of alumni helped dedicate the Alumni Walk at the Hintz Family Alumni Center on Friday. In between, all the usual wonderment enveloped Happy Valley during Homecoming of the 2008 season. Then, the game started, and the good vibes changed.

Read more in our From The Archives story from 2019.

Penn State v. Michigan 2008 (Steve Manuel/The Football Letter)

The Lead: After going more than a month without a victory, Penn State finally got back in the win column with last week’s 31-14 win over Maryland. It wasn’t always pretty, but you could tell from the postgame celebrations from players and coaches it meant a lot to get the weight of the losing streak of their shoulders. Michigan, meanwhile, showed no signs of a letdown from a crushing loss to in-state rivals Michigan State two weeks ago, cruising past Indiana 29-7. Both teams started the season with aspirations of a Big Ten title. That goal is still very much in the frame for the Wolverines. Penn State is all but out of the Big Ten East race, but the Nittany Lions can play spoiler to the two Michigan schools down the stretch. That starts with Saturday’s game.

Penn State Wins If: The Penn State offense plays to its potential. It feels like that hasn’t happened very much this season. Last week, the Nittany Lions were able to overcome a sluggish offensive performance thanks to Jahan Dotson going nuclear and the defense playing another great game. To beat an opponent at the level of Michigan, the offense is going to have to play a lot crisper. Mike Yurcich is going to need to be at his best calling plays. Who knows, though, maybe Jahan will make me look silly for saying that by following up his 242-yard effort with a 300-yard effort to propel Penn State to another win.

Michigan Wins If: The Wolverines don’t settle for field goals. I probably sound like a broken record at this point, but every opponent Penn State has faced this season has struggled to finish off drives with touchdowns. At times, particularly in the loss to Michigan State, the Michigan offense has put together good drives and only ended up with three points once they reached the end zone. The Wolverines can’t afford to settle for field goals again or the narrow defeat to the Spartans is going to be repeated.

Penn State v. Maryland (Steve Manuel/The Football Letter)

Keep An Eye On: Penn State’s offensive tackles. The offensive line has been pretty disappointing for the Nittany Lions this season. Michigan has two outstanding defensive ends in Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo, both of whom will be playing on Sundays. The Nittany Lions OTs are going to have to have a great game to give Sean Clifford time to find Dotson, Parker Washington and other skill players.

Trivia Tidbit: Despite being two of the most successful programs in college football history, Penn State and Michigan had never played each other until 1993. The Wolverines won that inaugural meeting 21-13.

Number To Know: 829. Running back Hassan Haskins leads Michigan with 829 yards rushing this season. That’s good for fourth-best in the Big Ten.
12. Penn State has held opponents without a score in 12 of 34 red zone possessions this season, including three stops at Maryland.

Membership Note: If you aren’t using the Alumni Library, you’re missing out on one of the most valuable benefits of membership in the Alumni Association. Find out how logging in can give you access to a treasure trove of knowledge, including tools that can enlighten, inform, enrich, and entertain you—or even provide information you can use to astound your coworkers and delight your boss! Click here for more info.

Listen to ‘The People of Penn State’ podcast at alumni.psu.edu/podcasts. 

Podcast: Our guest for this week’s episode of ‘The People of Penn State,’ is Daniel Berlin ’92. Dan has never let his vision loss affect the life he wanted to live. He is co-founder and former CEO of Rodelle, a world-leading vanilla extract company, and the co-founder and president of Team See Possibilities, a non-profit organization which empowers young people with vision loss to thrive. Dan has also traveled the world as an endurance athlete and advocate for the blind. Dan joined us and discussed coming to terms at a young age with his vision loss, the founding of Rodelle, the impact of Team See Possibilities, and his experiences as an endurance athlete. Listen to the show today or check out the video version on YouTube.

Score Predictions:
John Patishnock: Penn State 21, Michigan 17
Vincent Lungaro: Penn State 24, Michigan 20



Penn Staters At The Next Level: Week Nine

Hard to believe we’re already through the halfway point of the NFL season. Nine weeks down and nine to go.

It was a quiet start to Pat Freiermuth’s NFL career, but the rookie has officially entered the spotlight for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Freiermuth is quickly becoming a fan-favorite in the Steel City.

“MUUUUUUUTH,” as Steelers fans have dubbed Pat in the mold of “HEEEEEEATH” for former tight end Heath Miller, caught two touchdowns in Pittsburgh’s Monday Night victory over the Bears.

Freiermuth is now tied with Falcons star Kyle Pitts as the two highest-rated rookie tight ends in the league, according to Pro Football Focus. Pretty, pretty good.

Mike Gesicki, Tight End, Miami Dolphins

Welcome back to the win column, Dolphins fans. Miami snapped a seven-game losing streak on Sunday by topping the Houston Texans, 17-9.

Mike Gesicki made some spectacular grabs in the Miami win. Despite all the struggles for the Dolphins this season, Gesicki has been a constant bright spot. He leads the team with 529 receiving yards on the season.

Micah Parsons, Linebacker, Dallas Cowboys

While Micah Parsons hasn’t appeared on our countdown each week, it certainly seems like he has.

Dallas’ six-game winning streak came to an end in a 30-16 loss to the Denver Broncos, but Parsons shined once more. He led the Cowboys with 10 tackles while also recording 2.5 sacks.

If he’s not the NFC Defensive Rookie of The Year, it will be an outrage.

The Roaring 20: Penn State-Maryland

It wasn’t always pretty, but Penn State is back in the win column and snapped a three-game skid with a 31-14 win over Maryland on Saturday. Here are 20 insights from this past weekend.

1. Jahan Dotson is special. Hands down the biggest takeaway of this weekend was the play of No. 5. There have been some great WRs in Penn State’s history: Bobby Engram, Chris Godwin, Allen Robinson II, KJ Hamler, Kenny Jackson, OJ McDuffie, DaeSean Hamilton, etc, etc. It’s time we put Jahan Dotson’s name near the top of that list. He’s a special, special player.

2. Dotson set a Penn State single-game record with his 242-yard effort against the Terps. Add in the fact he scored all three of Penn State’s offensive touchdowns on the day and that might have been the best single-game performance from a Penn State wide receiver.

3. With Penn State suddenly tied 14-14 early in the fourth quarter following a touchdown and two-point conversion from Maryland, the pressure was on the Nittany Lions offense to come up with something to spark the team back into life. Dotson answered the call, streaking down the middle of the field and into the end zone for a huge strike.

4. Now, back to the start of the weekend. Always great to come down to the Washington, D.C. area and see a terrific turnout from the vast amounts of Penn Staters in the area. Great mixer event Friday night in D.C. at The Admiral put on by our Metro Washington, D.C. Chapter.

5. Speaking of great turnouts. Penn Staters showed out and brought the energy at our Pep Rally before kick-off on Saturday. Catch the full Pep Rally livestream recording on our Facebook page.

6. I always enjoy seeing the warm reception longtime editor of The Football Letter John Black gets on our travels. Penn Staters always seek him out to exchange stories and thank him for all the great Letters he’s scribed over the years. He and Football Letter photographer Steve Manuel got a nice ovation during our Pep Rally program.

7. I’m going to reference a great turnout from Penn Staters a third time. There was PLENTY of blue and white in the stands at Captial One Field at Maryland Stadium, including the entirety of the Penn State Blue Band.

8. Here’s the Blue Bands halftime pertformance.

9. Another great showing from the Penn State defense on Saturday. The Nittany Lions stood up time and time again when the offense struggled to develop a rhythm.

10. Despite only putting up 14 points, I came away pretty impressed by Maryland QB Taulia Tagovailoa. The Terrapins quarterback was 41-of-57 for 371 yards and made some challenging throws in tight coverage. Without a couple drops from his receivers and that statline looks even better.

11. The Nittany Lions’ running game was better if not great. Nittany Lion backs combined for 109 yards. Penn State ended with 93 yards rushing because college football takes sack yardage into account (that’s really dumb, but that’s a conversation for another day. You still feel like this group lacks that dynamic rusher to give this offense a different dimension.

12. Always great to hear the Alma Mater after a W, especially on the road and especially to end a three-game losing streak.

13. As always, plenty of great postgame coverage from John Patishnock. Can’t say enough about the work he’s done this season. If you’re not following The Football Letter Twitter account, you’re missing out on a lot of great video coverage from him that you can’t get anywhere else.

14. Penn State is now 15-1 all-time at Maryland, and Penn State fans let Terps fans hear about it after the game.

15. I mentioned Jahan Dotson’s historic day earlier. Check out some of these eye-catching notes about Jahan’s day and season. Give this man the Biletnikoff Award, please!

16. Awesome moment postgame with James Franklin, Jahan…and a Penn State baby! Check it out below.

17. Penn State has some terrific student-athletes, and three of them are up for the Senior CLASS Award. An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School®, the Senior CLASS Award honors the attributes of NCAA Division I senior student-athletes in four areas: community, classroom, character and competition. The award program is designed exclusively for college seniors who are utilizing their complete athletic eligibility, remaining committed to their university and pursuing the many rewards a senior season can bring. Nittany Lions Sean Clifford, Jonni Parker and Pierre Ready are up for the award. Vote for them at this link.

18. Two early goals propelled Penn State Men’s Soccer to a Big Ten Tournament opening round win over Michigan State. Survive and advance!

19. At the time of writing, we’re still waiting on Penn State Field Hockey’s selection to the NCAA Tournament. It’s almost a certainty the Nittany Lions hear their name called, it’s just a question of who and where they will be playing.

20. See everyone at Beaver Stadium on Saturday. Go State. Beat Michigan.

Penn Staters At The Next Level: Week Eight

Missing starting quarterback Dak Prescott, the Dallas Cowboys needed their defense to play at a high level on Sunday night. They did just that and former Nittany Lions Micah Parsons was a big part of it as Dallas came away with the 20-16 win.

Parsons recorded a team-high 11 tackles, including four tackles-for-loss as the Cowboys D bottled up Dalvin Cook for 78 yards on 18 attempts.

Micah was subsequently named NFC Defensive Player of the Week for Week Eight.

Blake Gillikin, Punter, New Orleans Saints

A third-straight appearance in this rundown for Blake Gillikin? You bet ya!

Gillikin was his usual terrific self in Sunday’s win over the Buccaneers, sending off three punts for an average of 52.7 yards and a long of 63 yards.

Gillikin’s stellar play has earned him NFC Special Teams Player of the Month

Pat Freiermuth, Tight End, Pittsburgh Steelers

Four catches for 44 yards and a touchdown for Pat Freiermuth as he continues to find a bigger and bigger role within the Steelers offense.

Freiermuth also had one of the plays of the weekend in Sunday’s win over the Browns.

Check out this circus grab for six.

Chris Godwin, Wide Receiver, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Another great week for Chris Godwin in an otherwise disappointing day for the Bucs.

Godwin snagged eight 140 yards and a touchdown.

Penn State Preview: Maryland

Penn State v. Maryland 2019 (Steve Manuel/The Football Letter)

Each week, we’ll tell you what to expect, what to keep an eye on, and where and when you can catch the Nittany Lions this football season. Let’s dive into this week’s preview or Penn State and Maryland, with the blue and white looking to get back on track and snap a three-game skid.

Game Details: Penn State at Maryland. 3:30 PM ET kick-off, broadcast on FS1.

Venue: Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium, College Park, MD.

Weather Forecast (via AccuWeather): Mostly sunny with kick-off temps around 55 degrees.

The Line: Penn State -10 (via SI SportsBook)

All-Time Series: Penn State leads 40-3-1.

Last Meeting: Maryland topped Penn State, 35-19.

Last Week: Penn State fell on the road to Ohio State, 33-24. Maryland defeated Indiana 38-35.

Penn State v. OSU 2021 (Steve Manuel/The Football Letter)

Other Big Ten Games This Weekend: 
– No. 5 Ohio State at Nebraska (Noon ET, FOX)
– Illinois at Minnesota (Noon ET, ESPN2)
– No. 3 Michigan State at Purdue (3:30 PM ET, ABC)
– No. 21 Wisconsin at Rutgers (3:30 PM ET, BTN)
– No. 22 Iowa at Northwestern (7 PM ET, BTN)
– Indiana at No. 7 Michigan (7:30 PM ET, Fox)

Throwback Classic: 2017. Looking to secure a New Year’s Six berth, Penn State left nothing to chance in the 2017 regular season finale in College Park. The Nittany Lions used three total touchdowns from Trace McSorley and three more from backup QB Tommy Stevens to rout the Terrapins, 66-3. Penn State led 31-0 at halftime, finished with 534 yards and didn’t give up a touchdown. The Nittany Lions went on to win the Fiesta Bowl over Washington, 35-28.

Penn State v. Maryland 2017 (Steve Manuel/The Football Letter)

The Lead: A pair of 5-3 teams will face one another in College Park this weekend, looking to set themselves up for a strong finish to the regular season. Penn State battled Ohio State closely last week but ultimately suffered its third-straight loss. Maryland got back on track after three-consecutive losses of its own with a win over Indiana. If Penn State has any real hopes of landing in a warm-weather bowl game at the end of the season, it has to win this game. Maryland, meanwhile, has matchups with No. 3 Michigan State and No. 7 Michigan looming in the next two weeks, so this presents an opportunity to secure bowl eligibility ahead of the regular season finale at Rutgers in a few weeks time.

Penn State Wins If: The Nittany Lions show the kind of effort and energy they did at Ohio State. Eighteen-point underdogs in Columbus, Penn State showed a ton of fight at The Horseshoe last week, which makes the lethargic display against Illinois a week prior all the more frustrating. Sean Clifford looks almost all the way back to his normal self and that’s huge as Penn State gears up for the home stretch of the regular season. It’s a given at this point that the Penn State defense is going to hold an opponent in check enough to give its offense a chance to win. If Penn State can move the ball effectively the way it did for most of the game against the Buckeyes, the Nittany Lions should win this game.

Maryland Wins If: Taulia Tagovailoa takes care of the football and the Terrapins finish off drives. When Tagovailoa has been good this year, he’s been really good. Last week against Indiana he was terrific, completing 26-of-40 attempts for 419 yards and two touchdowns. The problem in losses for the quarterback has been turnovers. He threw seven interceptions in Maryland’s three-game losing streak to Iowa, Ohio State and Minnesota. If he avoids turnovers and the Maryland offense can finish off drives with touchdowns — something just about every opponent has struggled to do against the Penn State defense this season — the Terrapins can hang with the Nittany Lions and pull off an upset.

Penn State v. OSU (Steve Manuel/The Football Letter)

Trivia Tidbit: Jahan Dotson and Parker Washington are the first Penn State receiver duo with multiple 100-yard games since 2014 when DaeSean Hamilton and Geno Lewis did it. Dotson caught a career-high 11 passes for 127 yards against the Buckeyes, while Washington snagged a joint career-high nine catches for 108 yards. That follows up their 100-yard performances against Villanova earlier this season.

Numbers To Know: 11.5: Arnold Ebiketie’s 11.5 tackles for loss this season leads all Power Five defensive linemen.
1. Quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa has only thrown one total interception across Terrapin wins this season. He threw seven in the three losses.

Membership Note: The Penn Stater magazine is now available in its entirety online at pennstatermag.com, and if you’re a member of the Penn State Alumni Association you have full access to the site’s content. To access the full contents of the site, visit pennstatermag.com and log in with your email address and Alumni Association ID number. You can find your ID number at the bottom of emails you receive from the Alumni Association.

Listen to ‘The People of Penn State’ podcast at alumni.psu.edu/podcasts.

Podcast: ICYMI: The Alumni Association recently launched a new podcast, ‘The People of Penn State.’ Episode One featured Tokyo 2020 Paralympian and alumni volunteer leader Jake Schrom ’11, while Episode Two saw us joined by US Air Force First Lieutenant, San Francisco 49ers Cheerleader, and Entrepreneur Haley McClain Hill. Access the show at alumni.psu.edu/podcasts!

Score Predictions:
John Patishnock: 31-21
Vincent Lungaro: 28-17

The Roaring 20: Penn State-Ohio State

John Patishnock/The Football Letter

Here are 20 insights from this past weekend, as Penn State dropped its third-straight game in a tough 33-24 loss to Ohio State.

1. Before we dive into the weekend in Columbus, I’d encourage everyone to go check out John Patishnock’s story on Journey Brown from last week. Here’s a snippet of James Franklin talking about the importance of Journey still being around the program in a non-playing capacity. 

2. Was great seeing Penn Staters who came out to our Central Ohio Chapter’s Alumni Mixer Friday Night, including Nittany Lion super fan Paul Frankhouser. You might recognize Paul’s Penn State-themed Hummer. We caught up with Paul for a quick interview about his passion for Penn State. 

3. If you’re in Columbus or elsewhere in Central Ohio, check out the Central Ohio Chapter. They do a lot of great work keeping Penn Staters connected deep in the heart of Buckeye country. Follow them on Twitter (@psucolumbus) or visit their website psucolumbus.org

4. Had a great time at my first Pep Rally of the season. The Blue Band, the Nittany Lion, Lionettes and Cheerleaders brought the energy as usual. You can re-watch the livestream of the Pep Rally on the Alumni Association’s Facebook page

5. This past weekend was my first trip to Ohio State. I must admit everything I had heard about how opposing fans were treated in Columbus was not pleasant. Fortunately, there weren’t too many negative experiences on my end. The occasional snide comment or crude remark, but not anything worse than I’ve heard at other Big Ten away trips. In fact, there were several Buckeye fans who went out of their way to welcome us to Columbus and wished us well for the game, with one OSU fan noting that he has only had positive experiences in his travels to Happy Valley.

6. The process getting into Ohio Stadium was not all that pleasant, however. Only having two working gates for 100,000-plus fans to access the stadium doesn’t seem like a great idea. It probably took us 45 minutes to make our way through the entry gate. Luckily, we got to our seats just in time for kick-off. You won’t see me complaining about the process of entry to Beaver Stadium again anytime soon. 

7. There wasn’t an abundance of Penn State fans inside The Horseshoe, but the Nittany Lions fans who were there made their presence felt. Despite the loss, I had a great time interacting with the Penn Staters in our section just near the contingent of Blue Band students who were at the game. 

8. The flag-raising ceremony inside Ohio Stadium is so cool. I wish I captured it on video. 

9. I’m never one to highlight moral victories, but man, I came away from Saturday’s 33-24 loss incredibly proud of these players and coaches. Penn State played a hell of a game, it just came up short. That’s football. Change the outcome of one or two plays and the game probably ends in the Nittany Lions’ favor. I needed to see a positive response after last week’s upset loss to Illinois and I felt like I got it. 

10. Still, the loss last week to the Illini stings a little extra now that we saw a showing like that against a far superior opponent. 

11. The trick is now to bring the level of intensity we showed against Ohio State to the four remaining games: at Maryland, Michigan, Rutgers, and at Michigan State. 

12. 9-3 is a legitimate possibility and nothing to scoff at, regardless of how high our hopes got with this team after a 5-0 start.

13. The matchup with the Terrapins will be another intriguing game. Maryland topped the Nittany Lions last season, 35-19. Kick-off is set for 3:30 p.m. 

14. I thought Jahan Dotson gave a terrific response in his postgame interview about being a leader and making sure his teammates stay focused the rest of the season. 

15. Check out Dotson’s full interview, along with interviews with postgame videos of Arnold Ebiketie, Joey Porter Jr. and Parker Washington, on our YouTube page.

16. Look, it’s obviously been a tough season for the Penn State running game. They have not played to expectations, and I’m sure they’d all be the first ones to say so. It’s clear there’s no sign of division in the position group, though. The unit shared a nice moment before kickoff in one of the end zone, circling up with one another as they prepared for action.

17. Big shoutout to Penn State Men’s Soccer, clinching the Big Ten regular season title on Sunday. Congratulations to head coach Jeff Cook on his first trophy with the Nittany Lions. The first of many!

18. Another shoutout to Penn State Field Hockey. The Nittany Lions took down No. 2 Michigan in an overtime thriller on Senior Night.

19. I expect to see a big contingent of Penn State fans at Maryland next week. It seems like Nittany Lions fans always show out down in College Park. There’s still time to sign up for the Friday Night Mixer and Saturday’s Pep Rally. If you plan on going, stop and say hi. I’ll be on site shooting some video for social media.

20. I hope everyone had a fun, safe Halloween. If you rocked a Penn State-themed costume, tag us in a photo of it on Facebook or Instagram.

Penn State Preview: Ohio State

Penn State v. Ohio State 2020 (Photo by Steve Manuel)

Each week, we’ll tell you what to expect, what to keep an eye on, and where and when you can catch the Nittany Lions this football season. Let’s dive into this week’s preview for Penn State’s primetime matchup with Ohio State.

Game Details: No. 20/17 Penn State at No. 5/5 Ohio State. 7:30 PM ET kick-off, broadcast on ABC.

Venue: Ohio Stadium.

Weather Forecast (via AccuWeather): Cloudy in the evening with a shower in spots early, then partly cloudy late. Periods of rain or drizzle earlier in the day. High of 58.

The Line: Ohio State -18.5 (via SI Sportsbook).

All-Time Series: Ohio State leads 22-14.

Last Meeting: Ohio State won 38-25 last season.

Other Big Ten Games This Weekend: 
– No. 6 Michigan at No. 8 Michigan State (Noon ET, Fox)
– No. 9 Iowa at Wisconsin (Noon ET, ESPN)
– Rutgers at Illinois (Noon ET, BTN)
– Indiana at Maryland (Noon ET, BTN)
– Minnesota at Northwestern (3:30 PM ET, BTN)
– Purdue at Nebraska (3:30 PM ET, ESPN2)

Throwback Classic: 1963. “When you win an important game from Ohio State in Columbus … the inclination is to be polite about the victory and magnanimous with the vanquished. But honestly we have heard so much gaff in the last 25 years about the power and the invincibility of Big Ten Football (especially when compared to the effete East) that you’ll have to pardon a chuckle or two from these quarters.”

So wrote Ridge Riley ’32 in The Football Letter the week after Penn State’s 1963 visit to Ohio Stadium, a 10-7 Nittany Lion victory over the Woody Hayes-coached Buckeyes. It was just the third meeting between the big state schools—all of them in Columbus—since the sporadically played series began in 1912. And for whatever low expectations folks in central Ohio—”the Football Capital,” as Ridge Riley wrote with what we imagine was tongue firmly in cheek—had for the visiting Lions in the fall of ’63, Penn State had won on each of its previous visits to the Horseshoe.

They won that time, too.

Read more on this classic Penn State win over the Buckeyes in this From The Archives article from 2013.

Penn State v. Illinois (Photo by Steve Manuel)

The Lead: There’s not much to say about last week’s 9OT Homecoming loss to Illinois that hasn’t been written about already. In short: it was a disaster of a loss. Now Penn State has to limp into Columbus against an Ohio State team that has rolled everyone in its path since a Week Two loss to Oregon. Can the Nittany Lions pull off a shocking upset of their own?

Penn State Wins If: Sean Clifford plays the game of his life, inspiring the Nittany Lions to the huge upset. Clifford was clearly less than 100 percent against Illinois. He said earlier this week he’ll be at or close to full-go this weekend. Penn State will need him to play without restriction if it has a chance to win this game.

Ohio State Wins If: The Buckeyes offense can finish drives. Ohio State has steamrolled everyone in its path this season minus Oregon. Ohio State paces the conference and holds sixth in the nation with a 96.6 conversion rate including 23 touchdowns in 29 trips. Penn State leads the Big Ten and ranks seventh in the country allowing a 65.2 conversion rate in the red zone and holding opponents scoreless eight times, tied for the nation’s best. Whoever wins that specific matchup will come out on top.

Numbers To Know: 13: Penn State has forced a turnover in 13 consecutive games.
14: The Buckeyes recorded 14 tackles for loss as they held Indiana to 128 total yards last week.

Score Prediction: 
John Patishnock: Penn State 24, Ohio State 21
Vincent Lungaro: Ohio State 24, Penn State 17


Penn Staters At The Next Level: Week Seven

After a quiet couple of weeks, Chris Godwin produced one of his best performances of the season on Sunday.

Tampa Bay rolled to a 38-3 win over the Bears and Godwin led the way for the Bucs with eight catches for 111 yards and a touchdown.

The Buccaneers now head into a big Week Eight matchup with the divisional rival Saints.

Mike Gesicki, Tight End, Miami Dolphins

Mike Gesicki celebrated National Tight Ends Day in style, accumulating seven catches for 85 yards and a touchdown.

The Dolphins dropped a close one to the Falcons, but Gesicki continues his fine form of play with Tua Tagovailoa back under center.

Nick Scott, Safety, Los Angeles Rams

Nick Scott recorded his second interception of the season on Sunday and it proved to be a big one.

The former Nittany Lion closed out a tougher-than-expected win for the Rams over the winless Detroit Lions with a game-sealing INT.

Blake Gillikin, Punter, New Orleans Saints

Blake Gillikin appears on our rundown for a second straight week.

Gillikin booted six punts in New Orleans’ Monday Night win in Seattle, dropping four of them inside the 20-yard line.

A couple other notes to mention from this past weekend’s action.

We’re sending out best wishes to former Penn Stater Miles Sanders, who left the Eagles’ loss to Las Vegas with an ankle injury and did not return. Miles had to be carted to the locker room late in the first quarter.

Former Penn State lacrosse star Chris Hogan, who played 11 seasons in the NFL and won a pair of Super Bowls, announced his retirement from football this past weekend. Heck of a career, Chris!

PENN STATE PREVIEW: ILLINOIS

Each week, we’ll tell you what to expect, what to keep an eye on, and where and when you can catch the Nittany Lions this football season. Let’s dive into this week’s preview for Penn State’s homecoming matchup with Illinois.

Game Details: No. 7/8 Penn State (5-1, 2-1) vs Illinois (2-5, 1-3). Noon ET kick-off, broadcast on ABC.

Venue: Beaver Stadium.

Weather Forecast (via AccuWeather): High of 54. Cloudy with a shower in spots; a chilly autumn afternoon for Homecoming.

The Line: Penn State -24 (via SI SportsBook).

All-Time Series: Penn State leads 20-5.

Last Meeting: Penn State won 56-21 in the 2020 season finale at Beaver Stadium.

Keyvone Lee. Penn State vs Illinois (2020). Photo By Steve Manuel/The Football Letter

Last Week: Both teams were on a bye.

Other Big Ten Games This Weekend:
– Northwestern at No. 6/6 Michigan (Noon ET, FOX)
– Wisconsin at No. 25/N/A Purdue (3:30 PM ET, BTN)
– Maryland at Minnesota (3:30 PM ET, ESPN2)
– No. 5/5 Ohio State at Indiana (7:30 PM ET, ABC)

Throwback Classic: 2008. Entering the game, Ron Zook’s Illini were coming off a Rose Bowl appearance and returned star players Isiah “Juice” Williams and Arrelious Benn. Up to that point, it was also the highest-scoring White Out game with a combined 52 points. After the Illini opened the scoring, Derrick Williams did a Derrick Williams thing and returned the ensuing kickoff to the end zone to even things up at 7-7. Williams finished the game with a kick return for a touchdown, a rushing touchdown and receiving touchdown to lead the Lions to a 38-24 win.

Derrick Williams. Penn State vs Illinois (2008). Photo By Steve Manuel/The Football Letter

The Lead: Saturday’s homecoming matchup will feature Penn State’s Generations of Greatness uniforms, which are being worn for the fourth time in the last five seasons. Penn State has previously worn the uniforms in matchups against Indiana in 2017, Purdue in 2019 and Iowa in 2020. The uniforms feature numbers on the helmets, block uniform numbers, a white stripe on the sleeves, a blue stripe on the pants, a gray facemask and white cleats.

Penn State Wins If: The offense can get enough production from whoever starts at quarterback. Whether it’s Taquan Roberson or Christian Veilleux, the Nittany Lions just need their quarterback to be average and that should be plenty to blow out Illinois. Sean Clifford has been practicing this week, but it’d be a surprise if Penn State risks him in this game ahead of next week’s clash at Ohio State. I expect offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich to keep things simple for his quarterback, relying on his skill players with short routes and lean on the running game. Penn State’s defense is a juggernaut and Illinois has struggled mightily on offense. The Nittany Lions should win this easily.

Illinois Wins If: Penn State’s offense is catastrophically bad. It would take a turnover-plagued, penalty-heavy Penn State showing worse than what was displayed against Iowa (after Sean Clifford left the game, of course) for Illinois to win this game.

Keep An Eye On: Mike Yurcich using Taquan Roberson’s mobility. Roberson struggled mightily in the loss at Iowa, but one of the things that stood out to me as a positive was his ability to make plays with his legs. He picked up a couple of decent gains on designed runs or scrambles against the Hawkeyes, and it wouldn’t shock me if Yurcich uses that to settle Roberson into the game a bit early on.

Trivia Tidbit: This is the fourth time Penn State will square off against Illinois in a Homecoming game. The Nittany Lions are 2-1 with wins in 2000 (39-25) and 2006 (26-12).

Photo By Steve Manuel/The Football Letter

Number To Know: 101. This is Penn State’s 101st Homecoming game.

New Podcast: Check out the Alumni Association’s new podcast, “The People of Penn State.” On each episode of the podcast you can expect to hear the voices of Penn Staters talking about what they are passionate about, and you can expect to feel the pride and the power of the Penn State network. In the inaugural episode of the show, we talked to Tokyo 2020 Paralympian and alumni volunteer, Jake Schrom ’11. Click here to listen or check out the video version on the Alumni Association’s YouTube page.

Score Prediction:
John Patishnock: Penn State 28, Illinois 7
Vincent Lungaro: Penn State 30, Illinois 6


Penn Staters At The Next Level: Week Six

Steve Manuel/The Football Letter

It’s been a tough year for the Detroit Lions but former Penn State cornerback Amani Oruwariye has been one of the bright spots.

Oruwariye snagged another interception on Sunday in the Lions’ loss to the Bengals. He picked off Joe Burrow toward the end of the first quarter and returned the ball 18 yards.

That now gives him three interceptions on the season, which is a career-high and also ties him for second-most in the NFL this season.

Pat Freiermuth, Tight End, Pittsburgh Steelers

It was a season-best showing for Pat Freiermuth as the Steelers picked up a narrow overtime win against Seattle on Sunday Night Football.

Freiermuth caught seven catches for 58 yards.

Hopefully this means he starts to get more and more involved in the Steelers offense moving forward.

Mike Gesicki, Tight End, Miami Dolphins

Speaking of former Penn State tight ends with a season-best showing on Sunday, Mike Gesicki balled out for Miami in an otherwise pretty poor afternoon for the Dolphins.

Despite the team’s loss to the previously winless Jaguars, Gesicki caught eight passes for 115 yards.

With Tua Tagovailoa back at quarterback we should see more performances like this from Gesicki in the games ahead.