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Michigan Football vs. Penn State: Grades, Reaction

You know, I don’t think 49-10 is an accurate descriptor of how much of a butt-whooping that was.

Penn State v Michigan Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images

There’s an old saying - how there are three types of people in this world: the ones who make things happen, the ones who watch things happen, and the ones who wonder what happened.

Well, about the only thing in doubt during this one, as Michigan stifled the Nittany Lions in the first half and cruised to a 49-10 victory, was whether Penn State belonged in the second category or the third.

NCAA Football: Penn State at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

This was a dominating performance from start to finish, and the Wolverines put up more first-half points against the Nittany Lions than any Michigan team has ever done. This was also the sixth first-half shutout for U-M in the last two seasons, which ties them with Florida for the most in FBS.

Oh, and Michigan got back the title of winningest program ever, since Notre Dame lost to Duke. Feels pretty good to be a Michigan fan.

Alright, let’s hand out some grades.

Wilton Speight: B-

Speight still isn’t hitting on all cylinders yet. But Cable Wilton Speight is okay, too - he had 189 pass yards on 21/33 with one score, and he led an offense that had zero turnovers. Plus, there was that 9-yard run on 4th and 7. Overall, good stuff.

NCAA Football: Penn State at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

De’Veon Smith: A+

De’Veon was hitting his holes. He was explosive, and athletic. His decision-making was great. And he flat-out refused to go down, again and again. Today, Michigan’s #4 showed who was the best running back in the stadium, and it wasn’t Saquon Barkley.

This was easily De’Veon’s best outing since BYU, the fourth game of the season last year. Let’s hope he can keep building on it this time around.

Other running backs: A

Of course, for De’Veon to do that, he’ll need help from these guys to keep him healthy. There was something subtle and powerful about the teamwork these guys showed today, tagging each other out and producing in a somewhat limited number of reps.

Sure, Chris Evans, Karan Higdon, and Ty Isaac are all still trying to find their own rhythm, and each is trying to earn a larger role on the team. They’ll get better as the season goes on. But they’re doing the right things.

One last thought: I was asleep, but Karan Higdon Woke Me Up. What a player.

NCAA Football: Penn State at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Fullbacks: A+

These guys haven’t attracted attention so far, and probably won’t throughout the season. But Khalid Hill has been a valuable weapon and Henry Poggi has settled in nicely. So much for any concerns before the season.

Wide receiver: B-

These guys disappeared just a little bit today. Just a little bit. Jehu and Darboh combined for 8 catches for 62 yards.

Tight end: A-

It’s been the Jake Butt Show at tight end this season, which admittedly sounds pretty awesome. JB had four catches on four targets, including 43 yards in the first half. After a quick one-yard loss at the start of the second, Michigan put all the awesome stuff in their playbook away.

Oh, and Devin Asiasi scored his first career touchdown. “Asiasi oy oy oy,” as Mick would say.

NCAA Football: Penn State at Michigan
Khalid Hill getting knocked out of bounds on a 3rd and 3, 15-yard gain by the goal line
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY
NCAA Football: Penn State at Michigan
Jehu Chesson, contemplating why he only has 7 helmet stickers on the left side
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY

Offensive line: A+

Yep, they’ve earned it. This group showed guts, and grit, and determination, and I’m really proud of them all.

This staff has been praising these guys for weeks, with Kyle Kalis even telling the fans to “relax” about a week and a half ago. I’m prone to trust them, but I wasn’t quite seeing it on the field until this week. This is an encouraging sign heading into Wisconsin week.

Defensive line: A+

I know this came against Penn State’s O-line. But that was still so much fun to watch. Just days after wishing that Michigan’s dominant, pillaging defensive line of old would return, they did with a fury. It was great to see Taco Charlton out there again.

Back seven: A

Speaking of guys coming back, Jourdan Lewis was out there, shutting everything down. He took over a lot of the slot coverage, which helped Michigan clean up its biggest weakness from past weeks. As a result, Michigan held the Nittany Lions to 191 total yards in this game.

Mike McCray also chipped in with an interception, and Jabrill was wonderful as always. This pass defense really stepped up with Jourdan in the fold.

Special teams: B

Alright, so it wasn’t as good as last week. But Michigan still did pretty well on special teams, and Jabrill collected 75 total yards on special teams with one play coming this close to being a touchdown. C’mon, Jabrill!

Leon Halip, Getty Images