Michigan Dominates Penn State for Eighth Straight Win
The No. 5 Michigan Wolverines humiliated the No. 14 Penn State Nittany Lions Saturday at Michigan Stadium by a score of 42-7. It was an ultimate payback victory for the Wolverines after being blown out by the Nittany Lions 42-13 at Beaver Stadium last year.
Michigan quarterback Shea Patterson accounted for three touchdowns, and the Wolverines put together a dominant performance on defense, completely overwhelming Trace McSorley and the Penn State offense.
The Wolverines improved to 8-1 and remain the only undefeated team in Big Ten play. Jim Harbaugh and company moved one step closer toward winning a conference championship for the first time since 2004 and earning their first spot in the College Football Playoff.
Michigan defensive end Chase Winovich proclaimed after the game that Michigan is the team to beat in the Big Ten. Winovich said earlier that the Wolverines are on a revenge tour this season to knock off the four teams they lost to in the regular season last year.
They have now knocked off those four teams this season with wins over Wisconsin, Michigan State and now Penn State. The last step for Michigan will be to topple No. 10 Ohio State in the regular season finale on November 24, assuming it can take care of business against Rutgers and Indiana in the two weeks prior.
The Nittany Lions drop to 6-3 (3-3) and scored with 1:59 left on a rushing touchdown by Tommy Stevens to avoid getting shut out for the first time since 2001 against Michigan.
"Defensively, they kicked our butts," coach James Franklin said.
Harbaugh did what he could to prevent Penn State from scoring at all, challenging a call on its last drive and calling timeout twice.
Michigan, clearly, was motivated to beat the Nittany Lions last year’s loss when Penn State tried to score a touchdown on its last play.
Karan Higdon ran for 132 yards and a score that put the Wolverines up 35-0 early in the fourth quarter. He has now rushed for 100-plus yards in seven straight games, one shy of the school record set by Mike Hart in 2007.
Michigan's defense held Penn State to a season-low 186 yards and forced three turnovers, including Stevens’ interception that was returned for a 62-yard touchdown by Brandon Watson as time expired in the third quarter. It was Watson's second pick-six of the season, joining Lance Dottin (1991) as the only players to do that twice in a year.
McSorley completed just 5 of 13 for 83 yards with an interception and a fumble and clearly did not look 100 percent on his right knee, which he injured against Iowa last week. He shared time and rotated with Stevens, who was 3 of 4 for 35 yards and scored the game’s lone touchdown for Penn State.
Patterson was 11 of 17 for 144 yards with two touchdown passes, a 23-yard throw to Donovan Peoples-Jones in the second quarter and a 7-yard strike to Zach Gentry. He also did damage on several zone-read plays, rushing for 42 yards on 11 carries, including a 1-yard touchdown midway through the first quarter.
With Patterson, Michigan has added another dimension under center that it has not had since Harbaugh has been at the helm. Combine that with a vastly improved offensive line, an emerged star at running back in Higdon and arguably the best defense in college football, Michigan has all of the essential components of a national championship contender.
Meanwhile, for Penn State, Franklin and his team will be challenged to bounce back against another tough opponent in Wisconsin next week. Franklin will be challenged to get his players back on track after losing for the third time in five games and getting routed as a ranked team.
Will Desautelle is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism and political science. To contact him, email email@example.com.