Michigan looks to keep College Football Playoff hopes alive as 'revenge tour' reaches Penn State

Wolverines on seven-game winning streak

Karan Higdon celebrates a touchdown with Shea Patterson while playing Wisconsin on Oct. 13, 2018, at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Michigan football will be back in action this weekend against Penn State after a bye week put its seven-game winning streak on hold.

Though Michigan hasn't played since the afternoon of Oct. 20, a lot has happened to impact the Wolverines over the last 13 days.

When the final seconds ticked off the clock in East Lansing and Michigan improved to 7-1, it still wasn't considered the favorite to win the Big Ten East Division. Hours later, that changed when Purdue put a 49-20 hurting on Ohio State.

Now, Michigan could be one Buckeyes loss away from heading into Columbus later this month with the division already in hand.

Last week, 11 teams ranked in the AP Top 25 lost as the Wolverines watched from the sidelines. When the dust settled, Michigan emerged as the No. 5 team in all three polls -- most importantly, the season's first College Football Playoff rankings.

Shea Patterson reacts to a teammate's second-quarter touchdown against Michigan State at Spartan Stadium on Oct. 20, 2018, in East Lansing, Michigan. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Penn State represents a tough challenge for Michigan, especially after eclipsing 500 yards last year against Don Brown's defense. Trace McSorley is the type of dual-threat quarterback that has given Michigan fits, and the Nittany Lions are desperate to stay alive in the conference.

Michigan is also coming off a bye and playing with the added pressure of being ranked in the CFP poll's top five. The Wolverines have struggled in these big situations under Jim Harbaugh, but this team has shown signs of being much more composed and resilient.

Saturday is another stop on Michigan's "revenge tour," coined by defensive end Chase Winovich. Losses against Wisconsin and Michigan State a year ago were avenged in October, but there are two more stops on the route.

Penn State handed Michigan its most humiliating loss of 2017, running away in the second half and winning 42-13. Even up 29 points in the final moments, James Franklin opted to go for one last score instead of running out the clock.

Everything is on the line for Michigan. It's not only the revenge tour and an undefeated Big Ten record: The Wolverines also need to avoid a second loss to stay in the College Football Playoff conversation.

Brown and the Michigan players admit they think about last year's embarrassing loss in Happy Valley. Revenge has fueled the Wolverines this season, so those memories could bring out the best in Michigan.

If the Wolverines can survive, they'll likely move into the top four of the College Football Playoff rankings, with a trip to Columbus just weeks away.

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