If Hackenberg runs in a touchdown tonight I promise I'll drink every beer in my fridge. That would not be a good sign for Michigan.
Punt-Counterpunt: Penn State 2013
Something's been missing from Michigan gamedays since the free programs ceased being economically viable: scientific gameday predictions that are not at all preordained by the strictures of a column in which one writer takes a positive tack and the other a negative one… something like Punt-Counterpunt.
By Heiko Yang
Things have been getting a little heavy and off topic here. Let’s go back to feelingsball, shall we?
The last time Michigan played Penn State, most of us were sorting through some complicated feelings about whether we wanted to keep or fire Rich Rod. According to John U. Bacon’s Three and Out, the loss in Happy Valley sealed Dave Brandon’s decision, but I don’t think the outcome of the game cleared anything up for many of us. On the one hand, 423 yards and 31 points against Linebacker U! On the other hand … we made Matt McGloin look like Tom Brady. Granted, McGloin ended up being pretty good, but we didn’t know that yet. All we saw was this:
In the soul-searching (binge drinking) that followed, many of us wondered how the Michigan defense would ever dig itself out of this mess. Keeping Rich Rod’s staff wouldn’t guarantee defensive improvement, but firing him would mean several more years of coaching change awfulness that we thought we were finally putting behind us. Neither solution appeared to be a quick or satisfactory fix. Without any idea we were only a year away from being 11-2 and a BCS bowl win, it sucked to be a Michigan Wolverine.
Looking back, I wonder how Penn State fans felt after that game. Cathartic for beating Michigan three years in a row? Probably. Pity for Michigan, a once-proud program that had descended into turmoil and mediocrity? Maybe. Were they immensely thankful for the stability of their own program? I don’t know. When your coach has more all-time wins than many teams do, it’s not something to really think about. Without any idea they were only a season away from suffering the worst scandal in college football history, I bet it felt great to be a Penn State Nittany Lion.
Three years later, here we are again. Michigan vs. Penn State in Beaver Stadium. This time Penn State is spiraling downward while Michigan is (hopefully) on the uptick. The line favors the Wolverines by single digits, but anyone I’ve talked to thinks Michigan should and will win by multiple scores. I tend to agree. As much as we criticize Al Borges for lack of imagination in the run game, the unbalanced lines and heavy packages Michigan ran with impunity against Minnesota were just a preface to more elaborate and nefarious schemes to come. To stay competitive, the undersized, inexperienced backups that the Nittany Lions are running with these days on defense will have to do what we hoped Michigan’s defense would do back in 2010: Overachieve. Just this one time. For the love of God. On the other side of the ball, Michigan suddenly finds itself being more linebackery than Linebacker U, and I’m not even sure it needs Jake Ryan back for that to be the case.
This feels great, doesn’t it? To focus on the plays, not the people calling them. To worry about crowd noise, not media noise. To scrutinize where the quarterback is throwing the ball, not where the program is heading. It’s a familiar feeling now, but once upon a time we believed this to be a foreign luxury.
If Michigan does indeed win by a large margin, we can feel cathartic for ending a three-game losing streak, and we can feel pity for a once-proud Penn State team that is descending into mediocrity. Most importantly though, we should take a step back and appreciate the stability of our program, the foundation for winning that is so easy to get used to and thus so easy to take for granted. After what both teams have been through the last few years, I think we’ve all learned this lesson the hard way.
Michigan 41, Penn State 31
By Nick RoUMel
Hey, kids! See if you can identify the nine all-time Michigan at Penn State football games from a snippet of a news article. Name the year, the score, and the coach’s nickname. Answers at the end of this column!
(a) In what is simply known as "The Snow Bowl," a surprise 18-inch snowfall three days before the game made it necessary to use hundreds of paid volunteers to clear the field. But with snow piles all around them, 80,000 freezing fans watched holder Joe Nastasi score a two-yard touchdown off a fake field goal with 2:40 left to secure the Lions' second of three consecutive victories over the Wolverines.
(b) Michigan's defense can help give any opponent a confidence-boost - even one led by a former walk-on making his first career start.
(c) The scene was ripe: it was the 1,000th game in Penn State football history, played before the largest crowd in Beaver Stadium history, against the titan of a new conference, Michigan of the Big Ten, on a beautiful autumn afternoon. But there was no pleasure in Happy Valley. Penn State spoiled too many opportunities of its own and never could stop Tyrone Wheatley, the Michigan tailback, who rushed for 192 yards on 32 carries. The Michigan defense contributed a four-down goal-line stand in the second half that denied Penn State the 6 inches it needed.
(d) The loss marks the first time that Penn State has ever been shut out at home under Joe Paterno and the 0-4 start is the worst ever in the 115-year history of the program.
(e) Rondell Biggs flew in off the edge for one of Michigan’s seven sacks, then flexed his biceps to celebrate his mighty deed. The Wolverines’ defense provided plenty of muscle, Adrian Arrington and Mike Hart each scored a touchdown and Michigan stayed unbeaten with a win on Saturday night.
(f) Michigan still has Penn State's number, and that adds up to another late-season collapse for the Nittany Lions. Tom Brady's 11-yard touchdown pass to Marcus Knight with 1:46 left gave the No. 16 Wolverines a victory over No. 6 Penn State on Saturday, their third straight over the Lions.
(g) Michigan came in a 23 1/2-point underdog. Never before had the Wolverines been so lightly regarded by odds makers. Behind the running of Evan Royster and a few momentum-shifting plays by the defense and special teams, the Nittany Lions withstood the Wolverines' early flurry and snapped a nine-game losing streak to their Big Ten rivals.
(h) By the time fourth-ranked Michigan's 34-8 rout of No. 2 Penn State ended Saturday afternoon, Beaver Stadium was nearly deserted. Most of the school-record crowd of 97,498 had fled the world's largest Erector set for the warmth of their cars. But a wet, wild throng of Michigan fans in the northeast corner of the grandstand screamed and waved at their conquering heroes. "I'm just so proud," senior tailback Chris Howard said. "Defense, offense--we played the best game of our lives. We had to come out and make a statement. We made it."
(i) The undefeated Wolverines came in as 3 point favorites against a Penn State squad with a high-flying offense but a suspect defense; yet the Nittany Lions stymied the visitors on this overcast October afternoon. Devin Gardner threw a pair of interceptions and coughed up a fumble as Michigan was driving for the go-ahead score, while Penn State freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg found Allen Robinson for 2 touchdown passes, while running for another in the third quarter, that gave the home town team a lead it would never relinquish.
(a) 1995, W 27-17, Llo
(b) 2010, L 41-31, R. Ro
(c) 1993, W 21-13, Mo
(d) 2001, W 20-0, Llo
(e) 2006, W 17-10 Llo
(f) 1999, W 31-27 Llo
(g) 2008, L 46-17, R. Ro
(h) 1997, W 38-8, Llo
(i) 2013, L 21-19, B. Ho
[ED: That is a PENN STATE 21, MICHIGAN 19 from esteemed Counterpunt.]
Today, I presume.
That 9 game streak must have been so bad they couldn't remember the scores correctly.
Conservative offense? Yes. A ton of TOs? No.
The key is not falling behind by 2 or more scores.
is high-flying? Really? Based on what, exactly? And on this, the foundation of a return to sender loss thanks to usual suspect play from a turnover-prone qb, which is actually based on evidentiary proof.
Whatever. You haven't been right yet on any of these premise things, so why should we take this serious now?
24 points on IU, the offense is rolling! If Michigan doesn't murder this team then we can set our sites firmly on the Outback/Gator bowl.
...Good times. The ol' "but we had a former walk on" has long since been debunked as we started a couple on defense in 2011. The 1997 game could arguably be considered the best UM performance in modern football history. Beating the #2 team in the nation on the road, with what was at stak, by a dominating performance that actually was more impressive than the final score of almost 30 points.
i was about to disagree..... but i see he just threw the first interception. :(
ain't over til it's over!