#10 Penn State vs. #5 Michigan: Blake Corum Dominating, Penn State Defense is Legit, and QB Breakdowns

Michigan running back Blake Corum runs for a touchdown against Maryland during the second half at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022.
Michigan running back Blake Corum runs for a touchdown against Maryland during the second half at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. /

The #10 ranked Penn State Nittany Lions travel to the Big House Saturday to take on Big Ten foe, the #5 ranked Michigan Wolverines. Blake Corum leads his squad against a loaded Penn State defense.

Michigan RB Blake Corum Carrying Wolverines’ Offense in 2022

Blake Corum was impressive in 2021 as the wingman to Hassan Haskins. After Haskins entered the 2022 NFL Draft, Corum took over as the top man on the totem pole. He’s made the most of this opportunity.

In 12 games last season, Corum ran the ball 144 times for 952 yards while chipping in 11 touchdowns. Through 6 games in 2022, Corum has toted the rock 118 times for 735 yards and 11 touchdowns. The Wolverines’ running back almost matched his career highs in half the time!

The last three weeks of stats look like something straight out of a video game. First, Corum recorded 234 yards against Maryland. Then, he put up 133 yards and 124 yards against Iowa and Indiana, respectively.

Corum will be looking for a fourth-straight game over the century mark, but he will have his work cut out for him Saturday against a strong Penn State defense. Quarterback play has been better in 2022, but the team will lean heavily on Corum in these matchups.

Penn State Defense is Loaded with Veteran and Freshman Talent

I touched on this a moment ago, but I can’t say enough how impressive the Nittany Lions’ defense has been in 2022. Penn State allowed 31 in the opening game to Purdue, but in four games since then, the unit hasn’t given up more than 14 in any contests.

Veterans Joey Porter Jr. and Ji’ayir Brown lead the way for their defense. Porter Jr. leads the squad with ten passes defended. Brown is tied for the team lead in interceptions with two.

Outside of these two, I’d argue the most impressive player is a true freshman. Abdul Carter is a do-it-all linebacker that currently ranks second on the team in total tackles. Another true freshman, Dani Dennis-Sutton leads Penn State in sacks as well.

Not only is this defense good enough to win in 2022, but they will be a juggernaut over the next few seasons. The Michigan offense is stocked with talent, so this should be a classic Big Ten battle on Saturday. We’ll see if the Nittany Lions can slow down the Wolverines.

Each Team’s QB Determines Their Ceiling in 2022

As good as Blake Corum is, and as loaded as the Penn State defense is, none of it will matter if the quarterback play is subpar. Each team rosters multiple high recruits at quarterback, but both have struggled to find the answer at the position over the past decade.

Sean Clifford is the starting quarterback for the Nittany Lions. Clifford led the way to a 7-6 season in 2021 but entered a quarterback battle with incoming freshman Drew Allar. Allar’s arm talent is undeniable; however, Clifford’s experience ultimately earned the spot.

Clifford performed well over the first half of the 2022 season, but when you watch Penn State, it is clear that his performance determines how far the program can go this season. If he plays well, they can beat anyone. If he plays poorly, anyone can beat them.

The same is true with the Michigan Wolverines. While lackluster quarterback play hasn’t resulted in a regular season loss since Oct. 30, 2021, it still serves as the barrier that Jim Harbaugh must break through to win a National Championship.

JJ McCarthy assumed the top spot on the depth chart early in the season and has guided the ship admirably. The signal-caller is completing more than 78% of his passes and has only thrown one interception all season. This is the formula needed for Michigan to win the Big Ten again.

McCarthy is coming off the best half of his season against Indiana. After a shaky start, McCarthy settled in and ended the day with more than 300 passing yards and three touchdown tosses.

Saturday will determine who is in the driver’s seat in the Big Ten, but the quarterback play will decide whether or not these two teams are legitimate National Title contenders in 2022.