The College Football Playoff selection committee has shown how much it values Michigan’s résumé, ranking the Wolverines (9-0) at No. 3 despite the fact they have yet to play a ranked team. It also showed that it values the quality of the Big Ten East in general, ranking Ohio State (9-0) No. 1 and Penn State (8-1) No. 10.
Two of those teams face off in a massive showdown on Saturday when Michigan heads to Happy Valley to take on the Nittany Lions.
HOW TO WATCH ‘BIG NOON KICKOFF’ THIS SATURDAY
- 10 a.m.-Noon ET: “Big Noon Kickoff” pregame show on FOX
- Noon ET: Michigan at Penn State on FOX and the FOX Sports app
This game not only gives Michigan its first real test of the season, but it also gives fans a break from the sign-stealing saga that has been swirling about the program for a couple of weeks.
The Wolverines feature a defense allowing fewer than seven points per game, and an offense averaging more than 40.
A win here, barring upsets, puts Michigan in position to play “The Game” against Ohio State for a third straight Big Ten East title. A loss likely knocks the Wolverines out of the top four in the College Football Playoff rankings and creates a scenario that could include a three-way tie atop the division.
Penn State already has lost to Ohio State and must win to stay in contention. The Nittany Lions couldn’t get their offense going against the Buckeyes, and another flat performance would ratchet up the grumbling of fans who have been waiting for the program’s first CFP berth and first Big Ten title game appearance since 2016.
For everything to know about this matchup, scroll below for some pregame reading, then return Saturday for “Big Noon Kickoff,” followed by the game itself. I’ll provide live analysis of every big moment in the game.
How Drew Allar followed in the footsteps of J.J. McCarthy: Penn State and Michigan both made it a point to bring along their star QBs slowly. Can Drew Allar eventually duplicate J.J. McCarthy’s rise? Michael Cohen has the story.
A complete guide to the Michigan investigation: The sign-stealing scandal surrounding Michigan’s football program has rocked the college sports world. Here’s everything you need to know about the scandal and what’s next.
Betting the game: The public is all in on No. 3 Michigan in its Big Ten showdown with No. 10 Penn State, meaning sportsbooks will be rooting hard for Penn State, Patrick Everson writes.
Communication breakdown: The NCAA has been slow to embrace communications systems to allow coaches to talk to players on the field, but that might be changing, RJ Young explains.
Respect for the Big Ten: The committee has given a path to the CFP for three Big Ten East powers and placed massive importance on Saturday’s Michigan-Penn State game. Read more.
KEY NUMBERS TO KNOW
26-10: Michigan leads the overall series with Penn State.
34.0: The Wolverines have the best point differential in FBS this season, outscoring opponents by 34.0 PPG.
20+: Michigan is the only FBS team to win every game by at last 20 points this season, and is the only team in the country scoring 40-plus PPG and allowing fewer than 10 PPG.
No. 1: The Wolverines have the top–scoring offense and top-scoring defense in the Big Ten this year.
3-16: Penn State’s record against Top 10 teams under head coach James Franklin.
7: Consecutive home games won by the Nittany Lions dating back to last season. The last home loss came in October 2022 vs. No. 2 Ohio State.
173.2: Rushing YPG for Penn State, which has the No. 3 rushing offense in the Big Ten this season.
1: Turnovers this season for QB Drew Allar who also has the second-most passing touchdowns in the Big Ten this season with 20.
MORE READING AROUND THE NATION
NFL Draft: 1-on-1 matchups to watch: Late-season college football games can give scouts a chance to see prospects perform against top competition, and Week 11 is loaded with such matchups, writes Rob Rang.
Bear Bets: Chris “The Bear” Fallica delivers his best bets and insights for Week 11. Read more to find out which underdogs he likes to bark outright.
Bowl projections: Bowl season is coming! From the high-profile New Year’s Six to the mid-December matchups, find out where your team is projected to land.
What we’re watching in Week 11: Can the Wolverines pass their first real test? Can Washington remain undefeated? Our college football experts break down the big Week 11 games.
Laken Litman covers college football, college basketball and soccer for FOX Sports. She previously wrote for Sports Illustrated, USA Today and The Indianapolis Star. She is the author of “Strong Like a Woman,” published in spring 2022 to mark the 50th anniversary of Title IX. Follow her on Twitter @LakenLitman.
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