No. 3 Penn St. hopes to end Michigan win streak Print
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Friday, 17 October 2008 07:10
NCAAF Headline News

 STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) -No team has frustrated Penn State over the last 12 years the way Michigan has.
Nine games, nine losses to the Wolverines.
But Michigan's time may finally be up.
College football's winningest program is struggling, in danger of missing a bowl for the first time 33 years. New coach Rich Rodriguez is getting criticized by impatient fans, his spread offense sputtering.
The third-ranked Nittany Lions (7-0, 3-0 Big Ten) have been the Big Ten's best team with a high-powered offense and a typically stingy defense.
Can Penn State break the slide against Michigan on Saturday when the Wolverines visit Beaver Stadium?
``Whenever we play Michigan, it's always going to be a big game,'' Penn State defensive tackle Ollie Ogbu said. ``This is definitely a 'Get the monkey off your back' kind of game.''
. If it's a rivalry, it's been very one-sided.
For Michigan, there have been blowouts (34-8 in 1997), shutouts (20-0 in 2001) and, most recently, close calls - like the 27-25 victory at the Big House in 2005 clinched by Chad Henne's 10-yard touchdown pass to Mario Manningham as time expired.
It was the only loss hung on Penn State that year, the last time the Nittany Lions were a national championship contender.
``Well, I think when we just missed out a couple years ago, it was a disappointment to me,'' Hall of Fame coach Joe Paterno said about coming close to his third career title.
This group of Nittany Lions has been loose but focused, intent on proving it's more than just a surprise team in the Big Ten. Paterno promises he's not taking the struggling Wolverines (2-4, 1-1) lightly.
``They can go out there and beat anybody probably, if they can get a couple of kids that start to feel good about themselves, make a couple plays, get a little momentum,'' the Hall of Fame coach said.
Momentum is exactly what Michigan does not have, though, heading into Happy Valley, not after a humbling 13-10 loss last week at home to Toledo. It left the Wolverines with their worst record through six games since 1967, which was also their last losing season.
``Man, I'm still feeling hurt from that game,'' defensive tackle Tim Jamison said. ``But we got it behind us.''
at Rodriguez brought with him from West Virginia isn't working out with the players he has at Michigan.
Starting quarterback Steven Threet, a redshirt freshman, was questionable for Saturday's game with an elbow injury. Both he and backup Nick Sheridan have been inconsistent, at best, in running the offense.
The results have been miserable: Michigan is last in the conference in scoring (18.8 points), total offense (291.5 yards) and red zone efficiency (69 percent).
Rodriguez is conflicted, though upbeat.
``It may be that we're thinking too much at times. As coaches, we got to do a good job so they're not thinking as much,'' he said. ``You want to simplify it so you can play faster. Yet when you do that, it's easy for somebody to lose things scheme-wise. You got to have different answers.''
At least Rodriguez will get some injured players back with receiver and kick returner Martavious Odoms, defensive end Brandon Graham and cornerback Donovan Warren all expected to play Saturday after missing the loss to Toledo with injuries.
Yet a statistical comparison alone dramatically favors Penn State. The Nittany Lions average more than 100 yards per game on the ground (235-130) and their 259 yards allowed is about 80 less than what Michigan gives up.
cks lead the Big Ten, powering the no-name defense.
The one thing Michigan has in its favor is the streak. Penn State's last victory came in 1996, when today's Nittany Lions were in grade school and Bill Clinton was president.
``When you think about it, it's 12 years, it's almost hard to comprehend,'' Penn State linebacker Tyrell Sales said. ``If we stay focused, on task, we can go out there and get a big win.''
 

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