UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Back from a bye week, Penn State football is set to return to Beaver Stadium as Nittany Lions host Michigan in the annual Penn State White Out game Saturday.
Having ascended to No. 2 in both the AP Poll and Amway Coaches Poll, second-ranked Penn State will open a challenging middle-third portion of the conference slate. The Nittany Lions are focused on nothing more than this week's assignment though, as No. 19/15 Michigan makes its first trip to Happy Valley since 2015.
Earlier this afternoon, Penn State running back Saquon Barkley earned a spot on the Sporting News Midseason All-Americans list. Averaging 217.0 all-purpose yards, Barkley is ranked atop the Big Ten and FBS standings in the category, having put together a standout first half of the regular season.
When asked about containing Barkley, Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh named containing him critically important in his Monday afternoon press conference.
"It will be a team effort defensively to go against a great player and a really outstanding offense - a really good quarterback, good receivers, a line and backs that are hitting on all cylinders," Harbaugh said.
Ranked third in the Big Ten in rushing yards, eighth in receiving yards and first in kickoff returns with an average 32.3 yards per return, Barkley has brought fans to their feet and stunned opposing sidelines along the way this year.
"He can catch the ball out of the backfield, he can run all the assortment of runs inside the tackles, on the edge - a very good pass protector," Harbaugh said. "He's a multi-purpose back who can do everything well."
Defense vs. Defense
Penn State's defense has been equally as impressive this year, entering the week allowing fewer than 10 points per game (9.0), good for first in the FBS standings. On the flip side, Michigan's defense is surrendering just 223.8 yards of total defense, which is also atop the FBS standings. Regardless of the numbers, Harbaugh noted that Michigan was still looking at options when it comes to attacking the Nittany Lion defense.
"Very good defense," Harbaugh said. "I don't see a lot of big plays right now. I don't see them giving up a lot of plays in the running game or the passing game, which means they are really sound. You can already see really good players in the front seven and in the secondary. They get to the ball, close up gaps and they're rarely out of position."
Helped out by two shutouts, Penn State's defense has not surrendered a single point in the opening quarter, as the only FBS team to hold opponents scoreless in the first quarter to date.
Get the Signs Ready
Penn State announced Saturday that ESPN's College Gameday will takeover Happy Valley, marking the 16th time Penn State has hosted the pregame college football program. ESPN's College Gameday broadcasted live from the 2016 Big Ten Championship Game, but returns to Penn State as its site for the first time since 2009.
In White Out Conditions
Saturday marks the 10th stadium wide Penn State White Out game in program history. The Nittany Lions have hosted a Penn State White Out that's either spanned the entire stadium or just the student section in each of the last 12 seasons.
Penn State White Out History
Oct. 9, 2004 vs. Purdue (student section)
Oct. 8, 2005 vs. Ohio State (student section)
Oct. 14, 2006 vs. Michigan (student section)
Sept. 8, 2007 vs. Notre Dame (full stadium)
Sept. 27, 2008 vs. Illinois (full stadium)
Sept. 26, 2009 vs. Iowa (full stadium)
Oct. 30, 2010 vs. Michigan (student section)
Sept. 10, 2011 vs. Alabama (full stadium)
Oct. 27, 2012 vs. Ohio State (full stadium)
Oct. 12, 2013 vs. Michigan (full stadium)
Oct. 25, 2014 vs. Ohio State (full stadium)
Nov. 21, 2015 vs. Michigan (full stadium)
Oct. 21, 2016 vs. Ohio State (full stadium)
The Nittany Lions and the Wolverines have met for a total of four Penn State White Out games, most recently in 2015, which followed a thrilling four-overtime win against Michigan in 2013.