INSIDE SCOOP

Inside Slant

The Sports Xchange

October 30, 2018 at 8:40 pm.

Penn State, McSorley make return to The Big House

Penn State’s a much different program than the one that arrive at The Big House and left broken and embarrassed two seasons ago.

Many of the current Nittany Lions would say that’s where things changed.

After that 49-10 loss, Penn State had gone 16-14 under head coach James Franklin. Since then, the Nittany Lions are 25-6 with a Big Ten championship and barely missed out on each of the last two College Football Playoffs.

“I think our mindset is to go in this game and try to come out with a win,” wideout DeAndre Thompkins said. “We know it’s going to be tough, we know it’s going to be gritty and not going to be pretty. But The Big House is The Big House, Michigan is a really good team, and we’re a really good team, so it’s going to be a really good game.”

And it has the potential to all but end the No. 14 Nittany Lions’ (6-2, 3-2 Big Ten) outside shot at a Big Ten title as the Wolverines (7-1, 5-0) lead the East Division with four games to go.

They’ve gotten it done with dominant defense.

Penn State will have to crack the nation’s top-ranked defensive unit that’s holding opposing quarterbacks to an NCAA-best 122 yards per game. The Wolverines are also ninth best at stopping the run.

“They’ve held seven of their last eight opponents to the lowest yardage total of the season,” Franklin said. “Most defensive coordinators will give you something while trying to take another thing away. (Defensive coordinator) Don (Brown) does not want to give up a yard in the game. He tries to take everything away from you.”

The Nittany Lions nearly had their top player taken from them a week ago.

Quarterback Trace McSorley had to sit out for a few plays after suffering a leg injury last week against Iowa. Franklin admitted his quarterback was hurting after the win but is expected to play.

“We played good football here at Penn State for a long time, and he’s got a chance to be the winningest quarterback in program history,” Franklin said. “Probably the most important stat that you can get.”