Michigan Defeats Penn State

Controversy.  Drama.  Angst.  Anger.  This was the setting for the Michigan Football team as they took the field in Happy Valley earlier this morning.  Yesterday, as Michigan is boarding a plane, they found out that Jim Harbaugh is banned from the sideline over the next three games due to the sign stealing allegations.  The punishment doesn’t fit the crime.  Why punish a whole team for one or two individuals’ actions?  Was Coach Harbaugh even involved?  That has yet to be proven.  Still, this Wolverine team rose to the occasion.  Having endured a self-imposed three game ban early in the season, the Wolverines knew how to act and executed accordingly.

Last year the Michigan ground game dominated Penn State.  This year was no different.  Manny Diaz had his defense ready and on point early in the game, but Michigan Coach Sherrone Moore adjusted.  Early in the game the Penn State defense played with sound gap discipline and penetrated the Michigan offensive line regularly.  Coach Moore adjusted by their fourth possession early in the second quarter.  He started to pack the line with three extra offensive linemen and this tactic began to wear down the Nittany Lion defense.  Michigan rushed for 170 yards in the first half alone, scoring only two touchdowns.

In the second half Michigan rushed the ball 30 times.  Not one pass play was officially attempted.  Michigan played the game in a phone booth for much of the game, scoring on two explosive runs while gradually grinding the Nittany Lions into the grid iron the rest of the game.  In the end, Blake Corum’s face told the story of the game.  Bloody, battered and determined, Corum’s efforts were valiant as he rushed over 26 times for over 146 yards and two touchdowns.

One of the plays of the game occurred late in the 2nd quarter when Penn State running back Katron Allen broke off a 34-yard run but was chased down by 340 pound defensive tackle.  Kenneth Grant made an excellent effort play.  Earlier in the game Grant had tackled the runner behind the line of scrimmage to begin two Penn State offensive possessions in a row.  Grant’s efforts and example motivated the defense to continue to play at a high level against a tough Penn State offense.

Michigan defensive lineman Kenneth Grant celebrates a stop against Penn State during the second half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 11, 2023, in State College, Pa. (AP Photo/Barry Reeger)

J.J. McCarthy was cool, calm and efficient in his toughest game of the year.  He was asked to throw the ball only nine times, but only eight times count on the stat sheet because his ninth throw was negated by a pass interference call made against a defensive back.  This would have been the one and only throw McCarthy attempted in the second half of the game.  He ended the day completing seven of eight passes for 60 yards while rushing for an additional 34 yards.  His rushes were strategic, and most were for first downs.  His leadership and experience came thru for the Wolverines today.

The Wolverine defense struggled against Penn State’s rushing attack allowing 164 yards, however they held the Nittany Lions to a mere 74 yards thru the air on 23 attempts.  Coach Jesse Minter dialed up the right pressures at the right time to shut down the Nittany Lion passing attack.  Minter adjusted to the run game in the second half. The Wolverine defense only allowed one scoring drive after half time during the fourth quarter.

Michigan was weighed.  They were tested.  They were found to be worthy.  The Wolverines face Maryland and Ohio State next.  They play these squads without their leader on the sideline.  However, Coach Harbaugh will be allowed to get the Wolverines ready throughout the week.  He will help develop the game plans for Coach Moore and Coach Minter to execute.

The whole team was emotional and jubilant after this win.  They should be.  They just won their 999th win for the school on the road against a top ten rival.  Michigan believes its them against the world.  Maybe it is.  If that’s true, I am betting on Michigan.


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