Q&A With Zombie Nation

We're crossing enemy lines this week with a Q&A session with Penn State blogger Mike from Zombie Nation. We decided to do this one home-and-home style with both of us fielding each others questions about this week's match up in Ann Arbor.

Read my responses to ZN's questions here.

Here's Mike's answers to my completely off the cuff questions. Enjoy!

MBN: Now that Penn State broke their 9 game losing streak against Michigan last season, are fans any more confident heading into this year's contest?

ZN: Fans? Probably. Me? No way. Penn State has played Michigan too many times "expecting" to win. I've fallen into that trap (read: 2005) before, and was punished in the most painful fashion. Even last season's 46-17 blowout in Beaver Stadium, Michigan went up 17-7, and had every white-clad fan crapping his pants. I wanted to throw up, then throw it at the TV screen. The Wolverines this season are a better team. They have every shot to beat Penn State, so no Lions fan should feel confident, never mind more confident than last season. Michigan finds ways to beat Penn State. Whether its by just being the better football team, or lucking out on a few plays (read: 2002, 2005), Penn State should never go into a game versus Michigan with a cocky attitude.

MBN: Penn State fans are notorious for their awesome "white outs" where every fan in the stadium wears white. How do you feel about Michigan's so-called "maize outs"?

ZN: I've seen one before (see photo) in person, and it didn't seem all that special. Now, I'm sure when the whole stadium does it, it's more impressive. Stadium crowds have been wearing team colors for decades, like Nebraska's Sea of Red. But there's something about 110,000 people wearing white. I don't believe any college football stadium did anything like that before. But hey, what most fans don't realize is that Penn State actually tried other gimmicks like the whiteout before. There was the pathetic "Code Blue" in 2004. Ever hear of it? Of course not, because it face-planted harder than Ohio State playing an SEC team in the BCS title game.

MBN: Penn State and Michigan lead the Big Ten in total offense respectively. Do you see this game being a high scoring shootout, or more of a conservative final score?

ZN: Ever hear of defense? Penn State and Michigan might be close on offense -- UM actually leads in PPG, 37-29 -- but it's not even in the same ball park defensively. Penn State is giving up 124.4 fewer yards, and 13.2 fewer points per game than UM. On top of all that, Michigan has surrendered 11 more touchdowns on defense than Penn State (5). So, to answer your question, no this will not be a shootout by any means. If anything, I expect this game to end up with 34 or so points on the board between the two teams. Now, that's not to say it will be 20-14. Penn State might end up doing what most think, and win this one somewhat comfortably. But I'm not counting on any kind of score like last season. If you want to see the difference in this game, watch how both defenses handle the opposing offenses. Whichever team can stop the other, there's your winner.

MBN: Penn State has really only been tested once this year with a tough opponent (Iowa), and lost. Do you feel that Penn State fans have a real gauge on just how good this team is and how well they can perform under pressure?

ZN: The only thing we know about Penn State is that it can beat teams it's supposed to beat. When Iowa came into Beaver Stadium, the Hawkeyes were unranked. Now, they sit at 7-0 and in the top-10. Michigan lost by two in Kinnick Stadium. Take away that pick-six by Donovan Warren, and it's a nine-point loss. Take away Iowa's blocked punt score and safety against Penn State, and the Hawks win by only two. That was the Nittany Lions' only close game this season, as all the other wins came by 18 or more points. I wouldn't say Penn State is a great team. I'm hesitant to say they're even very good at this point. I think the Nittany Lions are peaking, but we'll see if last week was it, or if there's more mountain to climb. This trip to Michigan Stadium is pretty much a turning point for Penn State. Win like they should, and I'll call the Lions a very good team. Lose, and this is just another decent team going to a mid-level bowl.

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