Michigan 28, Penn State 16

Submitted by Ace on November 21st, 2015 at 4:12 PM

The difference. [Eric Upchurch/MGoBlog]

There were shades of the dark, recent past. A non-existent running game. An ugly interception. Catching seemingly all the bad breaks.

One particularly bad aspect of that past was missing, however. While James Franklin cost Penn State a chance to win by kicking a field goal from the one and mismanaging their timeouts, Jim Harbaugh stood opposite him, competent and then some.

Michigan won this game due to coaching and finishing drives, and the two were inextricably linked. Both teams had one touchdown from outside the red zone, Michigan's a 26-yard pass from Jake Rudock to Jake Butt before PSU responded with a 25-yard fade to Saeed Blacknail. The Wolverines converted all three* of their red zone chances into touchdowns. Penn State also had three, but ultimately settled for three field goals, stymied by a stout Wolverine defense and their own conservative playcalling.

James Ross laid some licks. He wasn't alone. [Upchurch]

While the game remained close throughout, Michigan controlled most of the action, outgaining PSU 343-207. Outside of a bad pick, Jake Rudock continued his pinpoint ways of the last couple games, throwing for 256 yards and a pair of scores on 36 attempts. Amara Darboh moved the chains and earned a hard-fought touchdown on a steady diet of wide receiver screens and added a remarkable sideline snag; Butt found open spaces for 66 yards; Chesson stretched the field and chipped in M's best run of the day on a 20-yard end-around. While it was a frustrating day on the ground, the weapons in the passing game again proved their steadily increasing worth.

On the other side, Michigan allowed an early 56-yard run to standout freshman back Saquon Barkley and otherwise limited him to 12 yards on 14 carries. The defensive front beat up quarterback Christian Hackenberg, who managed just 131 yards on 37 attempts and took four sacks among many, many hits. By PSU's last-gasp drive, Hackenberg seemed out of it—quite possibly injured—and even started trotting off the field before barely getting the play off on fourth down; his final throw sailed harmlessly out of bounds.

If you're looking for the moment that turned around the game, the muffed punt that Chesson recovered inside the ten, setting up a one-yard Sione Houma plunge for a 21-10 lead, is the simplest answer. But if you'd like to say it's the moment Michigan hired Harbaugh, whose timely aggressiveness got the Wolverines a critical score late in the first half for the second straight game, it'd be hard to argue.

Ultimately, that's why this game will be fondly remembered—if quickly lost in the excitement of the week to come—instead of another nightmare in Happy Valley. Be gone, ever-fuzzier recollections of McGloin and Floyd and 27-for-27 and missed overtime field goals. Michigan is one Ohio State victory away from playing for the Big Ten East.

*Not including the game's final drive, when Michigan kneeled out the clock while inside the PSU five.


Michigan Fan L…

November 22nd, 2015 at 9:01 AM ^

LOL.  I visited some of the Penn State message boards throughout the week last week and most of them talked about how the officials always favor Michigan.  That was a shock to my system, but O.K.

So I checked those same message boards after the game yesterday, and even the Penn State fans were saying the referees kept them in the game.  Wow.  How about that?

Let's Go Blue!!!!

Michigan Fan L…

November 22nd, 2015 at 9:15 AM ^

The definition of targeting?  Let me help you out.  I have the official NCAA rule book right in front of me.

Page 10, paragraph 4: "If a Michigan player is flagged for targeting, eject that player.  I repeat - eject that player."

Page 15, paragraph 2: "If an opponent targets a Michigan player, reverse the call, pick up the flag, and dance a freakin' jig."


Gooooooooooo Blue!!!


November 22nd, 2015 at 6:19 PM ^

Targeting is when a Michigan player gets blocked into the opposing team's QB and barely hits him while falling on top of him.  It's not when an opposing team's player hits Rudock in the head with his shoulder or helmet when he is sliding feet first or when the opposing team's player leaves his feet and hits Rudock in the head with his helmet.


November 21st, 2015 at 4:22 PM ^

It didn't feel like we were playing PSU after the first quarter. It felt like we were playing against the refs.

When something good happened, I held my breath, waiting for the inevitable flag. When something bad happened, I was confident that we could recover. But seriously, fuck those refs.

Michigan Fan L…

November 22nd, 2015 at 9:10 AM ^

You took the words right out of my mouth. 

Fortunately (or unfortunately), I'm also a Detroit Lions fan so I learned early on in 2008 to hold my applause after a good play because a flag was coming.  Every time the Lions made a good play, which was rare, a penalty flag would magically appear out of nowhere.  That year I mastered the art of "hold the applause."

A holding call on a defensive lineman?  Really refs?  Really?

Go Blue!!!!!


November 21st, 2015 at 4:22 PM ^

We weren't great, screwed plenty of stuff up, but got it done when it mattered and came out on top.

Every game isn't going to be a one-sided shutout (although I want them to be!), so getting through a slog like this one was a job well done.


November 21st, 2015 at 10:38 PM ^

surely I thought the Big Ten should review the tape after the personal foul for low block on Chesson or was it Darboh? when he hit the PSU DB's arm next to his shoulder! 

did anyone else think Zettel deserved the targeting? he freaking leaves his feet!! its like one of those bad hits in hockey when they launch into the a man at the boards! i dont understand how you review that on video and still wave off the targeting.



November 21st, 2015 at 4:30 PM ^

A chance to beat THE ohio. A chance for the Big Ten. A chance for Roses. A chance for the playoffs.

Minnesota and Indy balances out the worst thing ever.

Nine wins. And a chance for more.

In one year. Less, really.

Thank you, Regents. Thank you, Mr. Hackett.

Thank you, Bo.




November 22nd, 2015 at 12:40 PM ^

A note of caution, despite all of us seeing the rise of the phoenix out of the ashes of the bitchRod and cHoke era : in cHoke's 1st year he went 11-2 with a win over ohio and Va Tech in the Sugar Bowl.  After that?  well we know.  The big difference I see is a team playing with tenacity, beating teams we should beat even if we aren't playing well, not letting poor officiating impede the mission and most of all playing hard. You could never say that about the previous two regimes.   They won, if at all, with individual talent, not team play and once opponents zeroed in on that, we were doomed.  Ironically enough, ref incompetence might have actually helped us by not calling Zettel for targeting.  If Molester U has any chance of beating Sparty, they will need all the defense they can muster.  But jeez we need to learn how to run the ball again! Why wasn't De' Veon in there for more carries? Anyone have some insight into that?


November 21st, 2015 at 4:38 PM ^

Loved the team effort this week. Harbaugh has brought them a long way. The one thing that gives me pause is the number of unforced turnovers, which dig holes that are very difficult to get out of.

Cranky Dave

November 21st, 2015 at 4:41 PM ^

And improved passing game won the IU and PSU games. Defense played better-5 sacks I think. In addition to the overturned targeting call the PI on Peppers was horrible. And there were two blatant holding on RJS the refs missed. Glad to get out bWith a win but need to be perfect next Saturday