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Takeaways From Michigan’s Win Over Penn State

Michigan obliterates Penn State and improves to 8-1.

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

Michigan continued its revenge tour in dominant fashion on Saturday, bombing Penn State 42-7 at the Big House. The win moves U-M to 8-1 overall and 6-0 in the Big Ten. Here are our biggest takeaways from the victory:

Michigan’s Defense Dominates Another Top QB

The top ranked defense in the country completely shut down another quality quarterback in Trace McSorley, who is arguably the best quarterback Michigan will face all season (Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins would be the other). McSorley and the Penn State offense failed to score any points until the backups came in, turned the ball over three times and totaled just 186 yards. McSorley himself completed 5-of-13 passes for 84 yards and a pick, while backup Tommy Stevens threw an interception on his first pass of the game. It was complete and utter domination by Michigan.

There’s no more “wait until they play a good offense”, no more “they haven’t played anyone”, no more “it’s early in the season”. Michigan’s defense is absolutely for real, and there’s not an offense in the nation that wouldn’t struggle against Don Brown’s unit.

The Wolverines set the tone from the first drive of the game to the end, recording five sacks in addition to the three turnovers, allowing PSU to go just 2-for-11 on third down and limiting PSU to less than 200 total yards.

Penn State entered the game with the nation’s No. 26 overall offense and Michigan made it look like a high school team.

Ground Game Stays Hot

Karan Higdon ran for 132 yards and a touchdown, Chris Evans added 57 yards and a score and quarterback Shea Patterson churned out 42 yards and touchdown on the ground. The U-M offensive line looked good, and Penn State struggled to stop the Wolverines. It was the seventh straight game that Higdon reached the century mark running the ball, which is the longest active streak in the country.

As a team, Michigan ran 52 times for 259 yards and three touchdowns, averaging five yards per carry. Because Michigan was so strong on the ground, Patterson didn’t need to go crazy in the passing game. In fact, Michigan threw the ball just 17 times, completing 11 of those attempts for 144 yards and two touchdowns.

One area of the running game that was particularly effective was the read option. On several occasions, Patterson fooled both the TV cameras and the Penn State defense, pulling the ball back from the running back at the last second and keeping it for himself. He picked up first downs and a touchdown on that very play design and even threw a touchdown pass to tight end Zach Gentry on play-action. It’s the type of wrinkle the Michigan offense needed, and it’s paying huge dividends for the Maize and Blue.

Michigan Is A Serious Playoff And Title Contender

The Wolverines didn’t just beat Wisconsin, Michigan State and Penn State, they dominated. It’s a completely different team than what we saw week one against Notre Dame and the path to the College Football Playoff is as clear as ever. Take care of business against Indiana and Rutgers and all that’s left is a showdown with Ohio State and presumably a Big Ten championship game.

Michigan looks great in every facet of the game, (minus field goal kicking) and can hang with any team in the country.

It’s time for U-M to seize the opportunity in front of it, and there’s no reason it can’t.

Up Next

Michigan goes on the road to take on the mighty Rutgers Scarlet Knights next week. The Big Ten’s embarrassment is 1-8 overall and 0-6 in the conference. The last time U-M played Rutgers on the road, it won 78-0, so we’ll see if Jim Harbaugh’s crew can top that margin of victory this time around.