Recently in All-Sports Blog Category

12124369.jpeg

By Jack Dougherty, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With three minutes remaining in the first half Sunday afternoon at Jeffrey Field, Penn State and Nebraska were dead even at 1-1.

Both teams had created the same amount of chances and had shared possession evenly all afternoon. The only difference between the conference rivals at this moment was Nebraska's eighth-leading goal scorer all time, Jaycie Johnson, was standing behind the ball on the penalty circle with no one but freshman goalkeeper Amanda Dennis in front of her. 

The only other penalty kick Dennis faced in her young collegiate career was against Long Beach State three weeks prior. She was unable to save that opportunity, but this time she stepped up and made the biggest play of the match.

In the battle between the seasoned veteran and the new kid on the block, Dennis read Johnson's run, dove to her left and stopped her attempt to keep the game tied at one.

"We scouted her. I knew that she was going to go to the left side, so I was hoping she would stick to the game plan, which she did," said Dennis. "I made the save and kept it at a 1-1 tie."

What would've been a one-goal lead for the visitors with momentum on their side heading into halftime turned out to ignite the home crowd and send Penn State to the locker room on a high note. 

"Certainly that ball goes in and it's a completely different game," said head coach Erica Dambach. "She continues to come up big for us, certainly not playing like a freshman."

Dennis also made a one-handed punch save in the 83rd minute to hold the Cornhuskers to one goal.

"You have to make those kinds of saves. It boosts everyone up," said Dennis. "It's a Sunday game, everybody's exhausted on a Sunday, especially when you're getting close to the 90-minute mark, so just making saves like that I got to keep my team in the game."

Dennis has held opponents to one goal or less in eight straight games. With Penn State only losing once in that span. 

Offensively, Megan Schafer stole the show for the Nittany Lions with two goals on four shots. She scored two goals all season leading up to this game.

Schafer got the Lions on the board in the 16th minute with a 12-yard shot that found the bottom left corner of the net off the assist from Salina Williford. 

In the 69th minute Schafer broke the 1-1 tie with a long run to catch up to a through ball from Nickolette Driesse and finished over goalkeeper Audrei Corder for what ended up being the game-winner.

In a game comprised of 23 total fouls and two yellow cards, Schafer flourished like she usually does in physical contests.

"Megan Schafer is a Big Ten soccer player at its finest," said Dambach. "This is where she thrives."

"I just love when it comes around for conference play," said Schafer. "It's just such a physical game, and sometimes it's not the prettiest of games but I love that. It just gets me fired up even more. It's kind of weird but I like contact more. I think that's why today was so successful."

Penn State boasts a bevy of forwards who can outrun the quickest of defenders, but in games that rely on a physical presence, the team turns towards Schafer in the middle to get the job done. She did just that on Sunday.

The Lions will be back in action at Jeffrey Field on Friday, Sept. 30 at 6 p.m. For another conference battle against Illinois.

Calculated Moves Provide Yazujian Complete College Experience

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

9475341.jpeg

By: Greg Campbell, Penn State Strategic Communications


Calculated.


That is probably the word that best describes Tyler Yazujian. A young man that has placed his eggs in many baskets - both academically and athletically - but in his own words thinks that he's "done pretty well, so far."

 

Pretty well is one way to put it, but when taking a closer look at what he has been able to do while on the University Park campus, it is extraordinary. Every Penn State student deals with classes and studies, while many of them are involved in clubs and extracurricular activities, but what Yazujian has done in five years is in some ways improbable.

 

Nearing completion of his bachelor's and master's degrees simultaneously in the College of Information Science and Technology, a three-year starter at long snapper as a member of the Penn State Football program, four years as a member of Penn State's club baseball program, three summer internships with the Red Cell Analytics Lab and membership in the Red Cell Student Group, all on top of everything that goes along with being a college student.

 

"I'm just a guy who comes in every day, does what is asked of him and doesn't need credit when he is doing well," said Yazujian. "I would call myself a hard worker, which is something that translates from the weight room to the practice field to the classroom to club baseball, to pretty much anything I involve myself in."

 

A native of Royersford, a suburb 30 miles northwest of Philadelphia, he arrived on the University Park campus with his sights set on playing club baseball alongside his studies. He accomplished his first goal, making the club baseball roster - a program that is a regular contender on the national scene - following tryouts in November.

 

After practicing for a couple of weeks, he decided he would take a chance on earning a run-on spot for then-head football coach Bill O'Brien.

 

"I missed the [run-on] tryouts the first time, so I went out in when they had them again in December," said Yazujian. "When I made the team, I thought I was going to have to quit baseball, and that was tough for me because those were my closest friends. I had just come to college and I knew those guys really well."

 

He admits now that the opportunity to wear the iconic blue and white helmet was too good to pass up, but O'Brien - and now head coach James Franklin - gave Yazujian the opportunity to continue his interests with the club. In his four seasons on the diamond, he owns a 5-1 record on the mound with a 3.03 ERA in 46.2 innings of work.

 

"It has really made my college experience much more broad and fun."

 

Broad and fun? It sounds more like hectic and exhausting, but the laid back, mild mannered fifth-year senior has taken it all in stride and excelled in every role he has assumed.

 

So much has he excelled on the field, he was awarded a scholarship by Coach Franklin during the winter of 2016. The scholarship was special to Yazujian, even though he was already utilizing academic aid he was receiving from a CyberCorps Scholarship for Service, but for him it was more about representing the special teams unit and setting a great example each day.

 

"The scholarship wasn't about the money," said Yazujian, "it was more about gaining that mutual respect from teammates, coaches and administrators. Getting that acknowledgement from my teammates and coaches, especially as a long snapper, was great. We [specialists] don't always get noticed, which can be a good thing."

 

The decision wasn't hard for the coaching staff, as special teams coordinator Charles Huff said there was no hesitation in providing Yazujian with the scholarship he had earned, both on and off the field.

 

"When opportunities arise to reward someone for doing the right things on and off the field Coach Franklin is sure to do that," said Huff. "Yaz is a perfect example. He does the right things on and off the field and brings elite value to this team in a multitude of ways. We were excited to be able to reward him for his hard work, dedication and commitment to this program and this University."

 

While his athletic pursuits have been many, his biggest role to date is being a student. Many students arrive on campus with aspirations of chasing a double major, but few rarely follow through. Yazujian has again impressed by working on his undergraduate and master's degree coursework in chorus as a part of the first cohort in the College of IST's first Integrated Undergraduate/Graduate program offering.

 

"My [academic] program allows me to take my undergraduate and master's courses at the same time" he said. "The basis for the program is that instead of taking the conventional path of doing four years as an undergraduate and two more years in graduate school, you blend those together, shave a year off and get two degrees in five years."

 

Calculated, but still busy.

 

"Busy people get things done," said Yazujian.

 

That's a motto he lives by and his résumé shows that. When not on the gridiron or diamond, Yazujian has used his free time to work in the Red Cell Analytics Lab (RCAL) each summer. In 2014, he had an internship all but locked up with the Department of Homeland Security. The CoSIDA Academic All-American checked all of the boxes - academic, coursework and social - along clearing the vetting process for gaining top secret clearances, but the timing just wasn't right.

 

"I just wasn't able to make it work [with the Department of Homeland Security]," said Yazujian, "but I have done work relevant to homeland security. Working in the Red Cell Analytics Lab, I've created some scenario based simulations that were used in the classroom."

 

In 2015, his samples found their way into U.S. Marine Corps Col. Jacob Graham's 400-level class based around deception and counter deception. Working with teammate Chris Gulla, the pair recreated and modified the 2007 Russian cyber-attacks.

 

"As a professor of practice, I do a lot of very hands on practical application analytic exercises or analytic decision games," said Col. Graham. "These are large scale simulations that allow students to solve the problems we see in our world today. Tyler has done a masterful job with some of things I have asked him to do over the last three years in helping create scenarios for my classes."

 

This past summer the RCAL utilized a program called GeoCue, software provided by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, to organizing freshman students in gathering data from around campus using social media. They used GeoCue to scrape that data off their devices and placed it into a geospatial tool to map out geo-location information from the social media profiles.

 

"The program [GeoCue] is basically used by disaster and quick response teams. This is software that can be used on a global level to help [government] departments decide where to allocate resources and where to send help."

 

Nestled between Rec Hall and College Avenue, and spanning across Atherton Street, there are not many student-athletes on the UP campus venturing deep into the uniquely designed Information Sciences and Technology Building, but Yazujian spends countless hours in one of the most sophisticated labs on any college campus.

 

He will graduate from Penn State this spring with a bachelor's degree in security risk analysis and a master's degree in information science and technology.

 

"Right now I am taking two graduate level courses," Yazujian said. "I've finished all of my undergraduate coursework and now it is just a couple of graduate classes and finishing up my thesis."

 

"Plan A is to extend the football career, but realistically that is not an easy task. Whenever football ends, I have a position waiting at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency as an analyst. I will hopefully be working there after graduation, but they understand my situation [with football]."

 

The comment rolled off his tongue effortlessly, as if that was exactly what he had calculated when he arrived in Happy Valley.

VIDEO: Postgame Players - Michigan

| No Comments | No TrackBacks
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State Nittany Lions Koa Farmer, Brian Gaia, Trace McSorley, Chris Godwin and Saquon Barkley meet with the media following the Big Ten opener at Michigan.

VIDEO: Postgame James Franklin - Michigan

| No Comments | No TrackBacks
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head coach James Franklin meets with the media follow Penn State's Big Ten opener on the road at No. 4/5 Michigan. 

12119569.jpeg


By Zach Reagan, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State men's soccer found themselves in yet another game requiring extra time. The Nittany Lions were awarded a penalty kick in the second overtime and Austin Maloney beat the goalkeeper to defeat Wisconsin, 2-1, Friday night at Jeffrey Field.

 

Through eight matches so far this season, five of them were overtime matches. Penn State (4-3-1, 2-1-0 Big Ten) found themselves on the winning side Friday, but it didn't come easy against the Badgers (3-2-1, 2-1-0 Big Ten), who came into the game undefeated in the Big Ten.

 

The Nittany Lions started the match with a different looking lineup. Head coach Bob Warming decided to go with senior Evan Finney in goal. Finney was the Nittany Lions' opening game starter but took a bad collision to the head in the second game of the season. Freshman Arie Ammann filled in during Finney's absence.

 

"It was pretty emotional honestly to start," said Finney. "I took a bad, bad blow to the head. I was in the hospital for a day."

 

Finney sported his customized rugby style head gear that he was fitted with after the injury. Perspiration got into his eyes from the headgear but he battled through it to record the victory. He felt very comfortable with the defensive backline in his first game back.

 

"It was just like I picked up right where I left off," said Finney.

 

Also missing from the lineup was senior team captain and team leader in scoring, Connor Maloney, who remained inactive after sustaining an injury in Sunday's Maryland match. Warming told the team that a collective effort was needed to replace his importance on the field.  Maloney not only scores, but with the use of GPS technology used by the team, he runs the most miles in every training and game, according to Warming.

 

"We had a lot of miles to make up with everyone else," said Warming. "I thought Aymar (Sigue), Dayonn (Harris), Mason (Klerks) and all these guys made up all that ground that we lost from the running of Connor."

 

At halftime the match remained scoreless with little scoring opportunities. Early in the second half, Penn State benefitted from a Wisconsin miscue. In the 54th minute, Wisconsin defender Sam Brotherton headed Pierre Reedy's header directly into the top center of the net to put Penn State up 1-0.

 

The Badgers turned up the offensive pressure later in the second half. In the 77th minute, Wisconsin's Christopher Mueller snuck a rolling shot into the right side of the net from 12 yards out, beating a diving Finney to even the game at 1-1.  A score that stood at the end of regulation.

 

Physicality on the field turned up a notch in extra time. There were more tough challenges for the ball as each team vied to an important Big Ten win. Overtime was a tale of two ten minute periods. Wisconsin had pressured to score in the first session, before Penn State finally broke through in the second ten minutes. Wisconsin committed a foul on Noah Pilato in the box which led to the game-winner.

 

Without Connor Maloney, the Blue and White had to go with alternate penalty kick taker. Dayonn Harris was supposed to take the kick but felt extreme leg fatigue from playing 87 grueling minutes, so Austin Maloney, Connor's younger brother took the kick. The sophomore midfielder scored as he went top left corner as Wisconsin's goalkeeper went right.

 

Maloney sprinted across the field to celebrate his first career collegiate goal with the roaring Sons of Jeffrey student section. Also celebrating the goal was honorary captain Bob Little, a former Penn State men's soccer player who played on the 1954 and 1955 national championship teams.  Maloney's game-winning penalty kick was a bit more special to Little as he donates the money to endow Austin's Maloney's scholarship.

 

Alongside Little were Dick Packer, Ron Coder and Don Shirk who served as honorary captains for the match. They sat with the Nittany Lion team during the game and were honored for playing on Penn State's national championship teams under legendary coach Bill Jeffrey.

 

The Nittany Lions are back in action when they take on Temple at Jeffrey Field on Sept. 27 at 7 p.m.


For more information on Nittany Lion men's soccer, log onto www.GoPSUsports.com and follow the team on the various social media platforms.

12119242.jpeg


By Jack Dougherty, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It took some time for Penn State (6-2-2) to crack Iowa's (6-5) tight defensive game plan, but the Nittany Lions used a second half surge to power past the Hawkeyes, 2-0, Friday night.

 

After a scoreless first half that featured only four combined shots on target, Penn State ramped up the aggressiveness to start the second frame.

 

Penn State earned a long free kick in the 55th minute and Elizabeth Ball got above the defense to head the ball home to give the Lions a 1-0 lead. It was her first goal of the season and fifth of her career.

 

"It's so much fun to go forward," said Ball. "Every time we have a free kick or a corner I'm just super excited to get in there and see what I can do."

 

Ball also led the defensive unit to its fourth shutout in the last five games. The back line held the Hawkeyes to 10 shots and four on target.

 

"You saw tonight what she's capable of doing," said head coach Erica Dambach. "She's leading the back line and then we need a goal and she goes forward and puts on in the back of the net. She's just getting better and better and I think as the season goes on we've seen that every year that she comes into her own."

 

This is about the time last season that last year's back line hit its stride, and the same could very well be happing with this group of new faces led by Ball in the middle.

 

"They're becoming more of a unit" said Dambach. "I think they're getting much more comfortable. We've got two new players in that back line in [Alina Ortega Jurado] and [Grace Fisk] and obviously [goalie Amanda Dennis] is really starting to lead that back line."

 

Dennis hasn't stopped improving since game one. The freshman has surrendered eight goals this season, but only one in the past five games.

 

"We really respect Amanda. It's not even like she's a freshman," Ball said. "It's really nice to have somebody so solid back there that we don't have to worry about, and she just gives the whole back line and the whole team confidence."

 

In the 81st minute Dennis made a full-stretched diving save of Iowa forward Bri Toelle's left foot that seemed destined to the upper left corner of the net. What could've been a momentum shifter for the Hawkeyes turned out to amp up the crowd and preserve the shutout.

 

"We scouted [Toelle] so we knew that she was going to take a lot of shots from distance, so I just dropped back on my line and made a nice, easy save and kept us in the game," Dennis said.

 

The Nittany Lions were able to pad the lead in the 63rd minute courtesy of Frannie Crouse. Crouse made a run up the right edge of the box and finished a loose ball over goalie Claire Graves for her team-leading seventh goal of the year.

 

Crouse is now tied for third in the Big Ten in goals scored. She also vaulted herself into a tie for 15th on the Penn State all-time goals list with the score.

 

The Lions have outscored their opponents 11-2 in the last six contests. They begin the Big Ten season 2-0-1 with a matchup against Nebraska looming this Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.

 

"This group's in a good place," Dambach said. "A couple shutouts and again back line is starting to come together and we got different people scoring goals for us. I think we got a good balanced attack right now, but we've got a very tough Nebraska team coming in on Sunday."

2016 Gameday Live - Penn State at Michigan

| No Comments | No TrackBacks
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome back to our live, interactive coverage of the Penn State football season. The Nittany Lions hit the road this week, traveling to No. 4/5 Michigan to open the Big Ten schedule at Michigan Stadium.


Live Blog Penn State at No. 4/5 Michigan
 

Freshman Feature: Biro Bonds Quickly with Teammates

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

BiroFeature.jpg

By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As the youngest member of this year's Penn State men's hockey team, freshman forward Brandon Biro is eager to show off his talents.

Time and again, the Nittany Lions emphasize hard work and a well-rounded skill set, two things Biro displays. Through two seasons with the Spruce Grove Saints (AJHL) between 2014 and 2016, Biro scored 70 goals and had 75 assists. 

The Sherwood Park, Alberta native said that growing up so close to Edmonton is what he credits with inspiring his hockey journey. Edmonton, home to the Edmonton Oilers of the NHL, is also head coach Guy Gadowsky's hometown.

Biro named Ales Hemsky who played for Edmonton from 2005 and 2014, as his favorite Oiler, However, Biro named Sidney Crosby as his favorite hockey player of all time, something many Penn State fans would agree with.

Fellow Sherwood Park native, senior forward Dylan Richard, is Biro's mentor. Each freshman on the team is given a mentor, an older player on the team who is tasked with guiding the younger member through the challenges of being a student-athlete.

"Whenever I need anything he's the guy I ask and he's always got the answers," Biro said. "I have a good relationship with Mike Williamson as well, he also played on the same Junior team as me, and is kind of from the same area. [Richard, Williamson, and I] had the same coach in Juniors and had the same path here, so whatever I need they can help me out with it."

Prior to his first visit to Hockey Valley last year, Richard gave Biro his phone number and they communicated the weeks before Biro's visit. Biro appreciated the fact that someone on the current team reached out to him, and that he was able to get to know someone before visiting.

But what Biro pointed out that he finds most important about Penn State's program is that each player relates well to his teammates.

"Overall we have a bond with every guy, that's what's so special about this team," Biro said.

Biro was able to take in all Pegula Ice Arena had to offer for the first time last November, when he witnessed the Nittany Lions sweep Sacred Heart.

"It was unreal, the fans were crazy," Biro said. "Playing Juniors in Canada 1,000 fans is the most you're ever going to see, so coming here and seeing all the fans and how loud they were it was pretty cool to watch."

Having taken in the atmosphere of Pegula as a spectator, Biro is looking forward to skating out on the ice for the Nittany Lions. 

"I can't wait for the first game," Biro said. "Since I got to experience the crowd for a game I can't wait to play in front of them. Practicing and being here all summer you're working out all the time and you just can't wait for that first game. Now it's getting close and it's going to be really exciting once the season starts going." 

12117314.jpeg

By: Tom Shively, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- A year older and a year wiser, the Penn State sophomores look to improve on the team's success from last year. The foursome of second-years can expect an increased leadership role on the team now that they have a year's worth of experience from which to build. 

Defenseman Kelsey Crow tallied a pair of goals and assists in her initial campaign as a Nittany Lion, but she acknowledged the improvements she made in the offseason to help prepare her for the 2016-17 season. 

"Over the summer, one thing I think I realized I struggled with was being an offensive threat," said Crow. "As a defenseman, I want to be able to shoot the puck through traffic and be able to create really good rebound opportunities or maybe join the rush more.

"One thing I still want to work on is one-timers, I want to be able to put myself in a position where I can take those shots. The beauty of that shot is that I can catch the goalie off guard a little. It's quick and it's more likely to create rebounds so I want to be able to use that shot to create more scoring opportunities." 

Crow also senses a renewed energy in the locker room with the arrival of the new freshman class. 

"We've had four or five years to get this program going," said Crow. "People that have been here and even the new girls understand there is a very family-type aspect of this team and every single girl is clicking with each other. I'm looking forward to seeing that chemistry develop further on the ice and helping us to win games."

Forward Victoria Samuelsson takes a slightly different perspective, excited for an increased role on the team as a second-year player.

"It feels good [not being a freshman anymore], I feel like I'm getting more of a place on the team," said Samuelsson. "That always builds confidence. Our team is doing really well and bringing a lot of energy every day."

Samuelsson finished 2015-16 with a goal and 12 assists, ranking second all-time in assists by a freshman in Penn State history. Her father, Ulf Samuelsson, played 15 years in the NHL and was an instrumental part of her development as a player.

"He helped me become the hockey player I am today," said Samuelsson. "It motivated me and it brought our family closer too."

Meike Meilleur and Hannah England also return for round two to complete the sophomore class. Those two players combined for two goals and seven assists last year. 

You can see the team on the ice this weekend as there is an exhibition Saturday at 4 p.m. against Guelph at Pegula Ice Arena. The regular season begins Sept. 30 at Clarkson.

2016 Gameday - Penn State Opens B1G Slate at Michigan

| No Comments | No TrackBacks


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With the non-conference slate wrapped up, Penn State hits the road this week traveling to No. 4/5 Michigan.

The Nittany Lions (2-1, 0-0 Big Ten) head to Michigan (3-0, 0-0 Big Ten) for a challenging Big Ten conference opener as the Wolverines prepare host Penn State in their fourth of five consecutive home outings in Michigan Stadium.

Quarterback Trace McSorley continues to leads the newly installed Penn State offense, ranked first in the Big Ten in passing yards and 20th nationally in the FBS standings. 

"I feel like the offense in general is really comfortable with running the new system with coach Moorhead and going through three games now we have a really good feel for the offense and how a game week goes from Monday to Saturday," McSorley said.

Among a host of offensive options that have continued to emerge throughout the season, McSorley found Chris Godwin for 117 yards on seven receptions against Temple. Godwin's 6.0 completions per game is also among the best in the Big Ten at sixth in the standings. DaeSean Hamilton joins Godwin highlighting the Penn State passing game as the duo has combined for more than 50 percent of the Nittany Lions' completions this year. Add in running back Saquon Barkley and tight end Mike Gesicki, who each accounted for a pair of plays measuring at least 52 yards against Temple. 

The Nittany Lion offense will have to find a way to execute against a Michigan defense that's currently leading the FBS in third down conversion and red zone defense, while also ranked second in tackles for loss. Led by do-it-all Jabrill Peppers, the junior leads the team in tackles (28), sacks (2.5), tackles for loss (9.5) and is also leading the nation in punt retuning with 173 yards.   

Offensively, the Wolverines are fourth nationally averaging 53 points per game, guided by quarterback Wilton Speight. His targets include a combination of quick wide outs in Jehu Chesson and Amara Darboh along with tight end Jake Butt. Between the three, combo is responsible for seven touchdowns on the year, with all three averaging at least 42 yards per game.

"They're just a big, strong, physical, mature team, and then they do have some speed aspects," Franklin said. "Jabrill does that for them on defense, special teams and offense. Their receivers do that as well as their tight end, (Jake) Butt. So it's a challenge, there's no doubt about it."

Penn State will look to new faces to lead the defensive effort this week, with injuries impacting the linebacker unit.

"We've adapted to the situation fairly well," linebacker Jake Cooper said. "I know that there's injuries around and it's the next man up mentality and we've taken each other under our own wings and we've taken each other accountable for our own positions and we're growing together as a unit. We're highly supportive of each other, we're a very enthusiastic group and I think that we're going to get the job done."

Co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach Tim Banks stressed earlier this week that the Nittany Lions would have to trust their keys on defense to shut down down a dynamic Michigan offense that presents threats in both the pass and the run game.

"If you trust your key 99 percent of the time you'll be right," Banks said. "For the most part our keys are our keys and it's up to us to be extremely disciplined in reading them and then reacting to them."

Led by second-year head coach Jim Harbaugh, Michigan will square off against Penn State for the 20th time in program history. The Wolverines have not dipped below the Top 10 in the rankings this year, completing their non-conference schedule with wins against Hawaii (63-3), Central Florida (51-14) and Colorado (45-28).

Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. on ABC with Dave Fleming (pxp) and Brian Griese (analyst) and Todd McShay (sideline) on the call.

What To Watch For -

Penn State:
1. Penn State has continued to embrace the 'next man up' mentality, truly demonstrated last week by junior Brandon Smith, who stepped in at middle linebacker and finished off the day with a career-high eight tackles and a half of a tackle for loss. Smith will look to continue growing the unit, not only through leadership but effective communication, having confidently called the defense in the win against Temple.

2. James Franklin has stressed ball security throughout the season, as the Nittany Lions have struggled at times to keep the ball off the ground. Quarterback Trace McSorley noted earlier this week that although there have been issues, each has been correctable. McSorley said that specifically from the quarterback position, the key this week would be making the correct reads and taking time to be accurate with each throw.

3. Cornerback John Reid has not been under the radar on punt returns in the last few games, as his 8.8 yards per game ranks fourth in the Big Ten standings. Reid highlighted the Pitt game with his second career fumble recovery, while also registering a 59-yard punt return in the first quarter. He followed that performance with his first interception of the season against Temple to lock up a 34-27 Penn state victory.

Michigan:
1. Having made his first career start against Hawaii, Michigan quarterback Wilton Speight is averaging 228.7 yards per game with a 63.8 completion percentage on the year. Speight's best performance in the non-conference slate was in a win over UCF with 312 yards, completing 25-of-37 passes, adding four touchdowns for an all-around career-high effort. Speight sat out during the 2014 season before playing in seven games during the 2015 season.

2. James Franklin was quick to point out that Michigan would enter Saturday's matchup looking to establish their run game, mainly with a big, physical and experienced offensive line. 

"They want to establish the run with their offensive line," Franklin said earlier this week. "They want to run the ball. They want to play-action pass. They're obviously averaging a bunch of points a game."

3. All-American tight end Jake Butt has caught at least one pass in each of the last 19 games heading into Saturday's matchup. As Michigan's second-leading active career receiver with 107 receptions for 1,292 yards and 10 touchdowns, Butt is coming off back-to-back games with a team-high seven catches for at least 86 yards against UCF and Colorado.

Final Word -

Penn State and Michigan are each among the most storied programs in collegiate football. Both programs are among the Top 10 in NCAA history in winning percentage in total victories. Michigan and Penn State also share some of the largest venues nationally, with both stadium capacities stretching beyond 100,000.

The Nittany Lions will open the Big Ten schedule at Michigan for the first time since 2007. Opening the 24th season of conference play, Penn State is 11-12 in openers, since defeating Rutgers, 28-3 in last year's opener. Penn State is 7-7 when beginning conference play on the road.

 
OPEN / CLOSE

SCHEDULE/EVENTS