The convenient thing about college football is that if you lose early enough in the season, you can come back and win a conference title and earn a trip to the playoffs.
That’s the case this Saturday night when unbeaten Penn State hosts hated and once-beaten Michigan at Beaver Stadium before 107,000-plus fans in a white out game.
Sure, Penn State is favored, but this will be a low-scoring game and Michigan certainly can win. Its defense could dominate Penn State’s offensive line, spelling trouble for the run game and for quarterback Trace McSorley when he tries to pass.
In other words, McSorley will have to win this game by running and by throwing passes after he buys time. Plus, Penn State will need a strong performance from its kicker, Tyler Davis, who has struggled mightily this season.
Prediction: Penn State 16, Michigan 14.
But, if the Nittany Lions fall, not all is lost. Unless they get thoroughly thumped, they should remain in the top 10 and be in great position to climb back into the top four and the playoffs if they win out.
Because if they win out, they will have beaten Ohio State (very difficult to do), Michigan State (somewhat likely to happen) and a potentially unbeaten Wisconsin (possibly could happen) in the Big Ten championship game. Meanwhile, Michigan – which has a bad offense – should lose to Ohio State, giving it two conference losses.
So, it could shake out that Penn State still controls its own destiny after a Saturday night loss. Winning out would give it the tiebreaker edge over the Buckeyes (head-to-head) and Spartans (also head-to-head) in the event either one ties the Lions for the Big Ten East Division crown.
And a Big Ten champion one-loss team will be difficult to leave out of the four-team national playoffs.
RANDOM SHOTS AND SECOND THOUGHTS
-- Most wedding receptions are too long. If they could just chop off that last hour, they would be almost bearable.
-- It’s embarrassing how universities and their football fans pander to ESPN to be picked to host the College GameDay television show on Saturday mornings. And yes, Penn State – my beloved alma mater – is guilty of this, too.
-- After the National Football League and players’ union reps met on Tuesday, they issued a statement that included this gem: “As we said last week, everyone who is part of our NFL community has a tremendous respect for our country, our flag, our anthem and our military.”
I guess they have so much respect for the national anthem that some players don’t bother to stand for it. Which is their perfect right to do because, in part, they have a collective bargaining agreement that does not require them to stand. But it’s disingenuous to then say they have a tremendous respect for the anthem.
It’s one or the other, fellas.