College Football Picks: #14 Michigan Visits Penn St. for High Scoring Big Ten Clash

Willie Bee

Tuesday, November 17, 2015 3:17 PM GMT

Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015 3:17 PM GMT

Michigan heads to Happy Valley this week as favorites on the college football odds to come home with its ninth victory of the season against the Penn State Nittany Lions.

They're called the New Year's Six, a collection of a half-dozen elite bowl games that begin on December 31 and finish January 1. We know that four of the 12 teams involved with this year's quartet for the College Football Playoffs, those semifinal contests taking place New Year's Eve at the Cotton Bowl and Orange Bowl.

The Michigan Wolverines have already seen their chances for the playoffs go out the window, but Jim Harbaugh would love to at least take his team to one of other four bowls in the New Year's Six. Dominoes have to fall just right for that to happen, beginning with the Wolverines winning out.

They'll try and close the regular season with consecutive victories, the first opponent on that short list being the Penn State Nittany Lions. Michigan travels to Beaver Stadium for Saturday's noon (ET) boot against Penn State, ABC providing the telecast and the early college football odds showing the Wolverines to be 4 point favorites after opening -5½ at TheGreek. Most sports books are carrying 42½ for the total.

Saturday marks the 19th time the schools have met, each time as conference foes after the Nittany Lions joined the Big Ten for the 1993 season.  Michigan leads the series 11-7, a victory last year in Ann Arbor halting a 4-game win streak by PSU.  The 18-13 victory marked the fifth time in six years the outright victor covered the spread and was also the fourth 'under' winner in that span.  The Wolverines' last win at University Park came in 2006, a 17-10 triumph as 5 point chalk.

 

Maize & Blue Off Double OT Win
It's a long shot for Michigan (8-2 straight up, 5-5 against the spread) to make it to one of the New Year's Six games, the 'Kick 6' loss to then-No. 7 Michigan State in mid-October pretty much ending any playoff hopes or an invite to one of the elite bowls. But it's still possible, especially since the Wolverines still have a home date against unbeaten and defending national champ Ohio State next week.

For the right scenario to pop up, not only do the Wolverines need to win their next two games, but they also need Ohio State to drop Michigan State this week, and then for Iowa to take down the Buckeyes in the Big Ten Championship, slated for Dec. 5 at Lucas Oil Stadium. That could send Michigan to the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1.

The Wolverines needed a touchdown as the clock expired last week in Bloomington to force overtime against Indiana, finally securing a 48-41 win in the second OT period. The usually strong Michigan defense was leaky against the Hoosiers, surrendering a season-high on both the scoreboard and the stats sheet (527 total yards). Senior quarterback Jack Rudock saved the day, however, with six TD passes, four to Jehu Chesson.

 

Can PSU Generate Any Offense Against Michigan?
A perfect 6-0 at home in 2015, Penn State (7-3 SU, 4-6 ATS) has played three road games this season and lost them all. The Nittany Lions have had an extra week to absorb their latest setback, a 23-21 loss at Northwestern on a late field goal.

Penn State clawed back in that game after trailing 20-7 at halftime, but a couple of turnovers and a breakdown on kick coverage cost the Nittany Lions. They had a decent game offensively, outside the two giveaways, but still rank near the bottom of the nation averaging 350 YPG. Penn State will now face the country's 2nd-ranked defense with the Wolverines allowing under 269 yards per game.

Cloudy skies and temps climbing into the mid-40s is what the weatherman's forecasting Saturday afternoon in Happy Valley, but get an update before making your wager since there is also some snow that could arrive earlier than expected. I'm very tempted to take the home 'dog for my free college football pick, but instead will play this one on the high side of the total.

College Football Pick: Over 42½ at Bookmaker

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