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Detroit News scouting report: Penn State at Michigan

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

Penn State at Michigan

Kickoff: Noon Saturday, Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor 

TV/radio: ABC/WWJ 950

Records: Michigan 2-3, Penn State 0-5

Line: Michigan by 2

Angelique S. Chengelis of The Detroit News breaks down the Wolverines’ game against the Nittany Lions:

Shaka Toney

Key matchup


Penn State has 12 sacks this season by eight players, and the Nittany Lions’ average of 2.4 sacks a game is fifth in the Big Ten. In the loss to Iowa last week, they had 10 tackles for loss and three sacks. Michigan must zero in on defensive end Shaka Toney, who had three of those tackles for loss against Iowa and two sacks, not to mention he forced a fumble. It was his second multi-sack game of the season after recording two against Indiana. Michigan’s offensive line will have its work cut out trying to limit the havoc Toney can create. He has 19.5 career sacks, tied for 10th all time at Penn State. As an aside, he was voted a team captain before this season and said former Michigan quarterback Tom Brady is his idol. Toney told reporters he watched the video of Brady speaking to the Michigan team a few years ago saying that being voted a captain at UM was among his greatest honors.

Nittany Lions to watch

Jahan Dotson

Jahan Dotson, WR: The 5-foot-11, 182-pound junior is the only Penn State receiver to total at least 30 receptions, 527 yards and six receiving touchdowns in the first five games of a season. Dotson earned his third 100-yard receiving game of the season with eight catches for 139 yards and a touchdown last Saturday against Iowa. Dotson’s 527 yards rank 15th nationally and his six touchdowns rank tied for seventh among teams who have played at least five games. His 31 receptions are tied for 21st. His receiving yardage total in the first five games of the season are the most by a Nittany Lion since Allen Robinson’s 621 yards in 2013. He is one of six Big Ten receivers with at least three 100-yard receiving games this season, and he’s averaging 17 yards a reception, 17th nationally.

Sean Clifford, QB: Clifford, a redshirt junior, has completed 57.2 percent of his attempts for 1,070 yards and 11 touchdowns against eight interceptions. Since 2000, a Penn State quarterback has only thrown for 11 or more touchdowns through the first five games of a season on three occasions, including two by Clifford – he passed for 12 touchdowns through the first five games of the 2019 campaign. (Trace McSorley also threw 12 touchdowns in the first five contests of 2018.) The 6-2, 217-pound Clifford ranks third in the Big Ten for TD passes and 37th nationally. Clifford is 10th place in Penn State history with 36 touchdowns. He has had three passing touchdowns in each of the first three games this season, as well as two against Iowa, and has nine career games with three or more passing scores.

Subscription: Chengelis: Will Michigan turn to advertising in Big House to recover huge 2020 losses?

Jayson Oweh, DE: The 6-5, 252-pounder has made 33 tackles this season, tied for the team high, becoming just the second Penn State defensive lineman since 2000 to total 30 or more in the first five games, joining DaQuan Jones in 2013 (30). Oweh’s 5.5 tackles for loss are tied for the team lead with Shaka Toney, and he is averaging 6.6 tackles per game to rank sixth nationally and second in the Big Ten among defensive linemen. Oweh has 25 tackles over the last three weeks, with nine at Nebraska, a career-best 10 the previous week against Maryland and six last week against Iowa.

Facts and figures

►Penn State, now 0-5 after the 41-21 loss to Iowa, is the first team to start a season 0-5 after it was ranked in the top 10 of the preseason AP poll. The Nittany Lions, who went 11-2 last season, were ranked seventh in the preseason.

►With the loss at Iowa, Penn State is guaranteed its first losing season since 2004. The Nittany Lions have given up 180 points through give games, an average of 36 per game. Penn State’s scoring defense is tied for 100th nationally.

Michigan has a 14-9 series record against Penn State and a 3-2 record under Jim Harbaugh. In the last eight meetings between the teams, the winner has scored at least 40 points five times. Last year’s game at Beaver Stadium wound up being close after the Nittany Lions built a 21-0 lead. Michigan nearly tied the game in the final minutes and Penn State held on for a 28-21 win. The three games before that, the points piled on. Michigan won 42-7 in 2018, Penn State won 42-13 in 2017, and Michigan won 49-10 in 2016.