STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- First, a few injury updates. On his call-in radio show Thursday, coach Joe Paterno said that wide receiver Brett Brackett and guard Stefen Wisniewski are set to go for today's game. Brackett suffered a concussion in last week's game and Wisniewski sprained his knee during practice this week. It also looks like running back Evan Royster should be able to play despite a few dings here and there, including a finger he dislocated in practice this week.
Now, the game. Believe it or not, I get the feeling that people are overlooking Michigan. Why? Well, the Wolverines aren't very good right now. Still, this team has beaten the Lions nine straight times. That has to account for something. Don't tell me the players don't get a little spooked every time they see those winged helmets and maize and blue unis. And it has to give the Wolverines some confidence coming into the game, especially after they lost to lowly Toledo last week.
So I'm thinking Michigan gives Penn State, who may be peeking ahead to next Saturday's showdown with Ohio State, a better game than the 24-point spread would have you believe. I'm not saying this game comes down to a late drive, but I think the Wolverines will hang around into the fourth quarter until the Lions pull away.
Michigan is strong up front on defense. It could be the best front seven the Penn State offensive line has faced all season. But the Wolverines secondary is severely deficient and, as we've come to learn, the Lions offense can pretty much do whatever a defense gives them. I think quarterback Daryll Clark will attempt 30-plus passes in this game. Instead of hammering away on the ground with a banged-up Evan Royster, the Lions offense will use a bevy of short passes to open up the field down the middle.