Michigan’s senior quarterback has played in some hostile venues on the road, including Notre Dame, Camp Randall and Ohio Stadium.
However, Shea Patterson has never experienced an environment like Happy Valley Saturday’s contest will be under the lights and it will be Penn State’s infamous ‘Whiteout. Not to mention ESPN College Gameday will be in the building.
Beaver Stadium will be rocking, with over 100,000 fans screaming at the top of their lungs ‘We Are’ throughout the night. The noise levels even intimidates the most experienced quarterbacks and Patterson will need to be ready.
Michigan has been playing better since its’ loss at Wisconsin and is riding a three-game win streak. Patterson has thrown for 617 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions during that span. He struggled passing the ball against the Badgers and the Hawkeyes, two teams with elite defenses.
Penn State’s defense may possibly be the best unit Patterson has faced this season. The Nittany Lions are No. 4 nationally in total defense and tied for second in sacks, with 27. The front seven is very active, with star edge rusher Yetur Gross-Matos anchoring the big boys up front to go along with the best group of linebackers in the Big Ten.
It’s not a good sign for a Michigan offensive line that has underachieved thus far on the season. It doesn’t matter that Michigan isn’t undefeated because Penn State will bring its’ best. Penn State is currently sitting at No. 7 in the AP Poll, behind conference foes Ohio State and Wisconsin and will want to make a statement. After all it’s a battle of ranked teams, a East Division showdown and will structure conference standings.
The Penn State players still remember that 35-point defeat at the Big House last season and Michigan Coach Jim Harbaugh lost his last trip to Beaver Stadium 42-13. Having a no-count snap and hand signals will be vital for Patterson and the Wolverines’ offense.
Patterson will need a ton of help from Michigan’s running backs to keep Penn State’s defense from focusing on him. Screen plays, quarterback keepers will need to be ran to perfection to keep the Nittany Lions’ honest. Michigan does have a solid defense and that should keep the team in the game and give Patterson and the offense more possessions to score.
Nonetheless Saturday night will be a great measuring stick game to see how much the Wolverines’ offense have improved since the Wisconsin loss. This game also has Playoff implications. If Michigan pulls off the upset it will be Jim Harbaugh’s first victory over a top-10 team on the road.