No. 5 Michigan improved to 7-0 on the season after beating No. 10 Penn State on Saturday afternoon at Michigan Stadium. Here are key takeaways from the game.
Smashmouth football wins the day
Michigan had an astounding 418 yards on the ground against the No. 5 rushing defense in the nation. It was an impressive showing and then some from the entire operation. Blake Corum rushed for 166 yards and two touchdowns, Donovan Edwards went for 173 yards and two scores, and J.J. McCarthy chipped in with 57 to power the attack.
Michigan’s receivers blocked at a high level, and Michigan’s offensive line was able to thoroughly manhandle Penn State’s front seven on a consistent basis. Michigan’s approach was old school and it was demoralizing for the Nittany Lions.
Michigan’s defense dominates once again
Michigan’s pass-rush is for real, a unit with a relentless motor. They made Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford’s day a rough one — Clifford threw for just 129 yards while suffering two sacks and five QB hits. Penn State was just 4-of-12 on third down and Michigan’s defense played exceptionally well, giving up just two big plays on the day. Sean Clifford did have a 48-yard throw and 62-yard rush in this one, but that’s about it as far as impactful plays from Penn State’s offense. Michigan’s defense held PSU to just 268 yards on offense.
J.J. McCarthy made some mistakes he can learn from
McCarthy was 17-of-24 on the day for 145 with an interception and 57 rushing yards. McCarthy’s interception appeared to be swatted in the backfield before hitting a couple of Penn State helmets to ultimately be returned for a touchdown. This put Penn State ahead in the game 14-13 and a 13-0 lead quickly evaporated. McCarthy made some good runs down the stretch and settled down after that unfortunate turn of events. Michigan ultimately went ground heavy, which was a wise decision in retrospect.
Michigan’s showing they can make second-half adjustments
Michigan had a slim 16-14 lead at halftime, but the second half was a different story. Michigan outscored Penn State 25-3 in the second half and rushed for 250 yards. This is the third consecutive week Michigan dominated in the second half, and it’s looking like this trend is here to stay. Offensively and defensively Michigan’s coaches deserve some credit for throwing more seasonings into the recipe when they’re necessary.
Statement win? Sure
Michigan fell to No. 5 in the AP Top 25 poll heading into this matchup for abstract reasonings, and their victory over PSU proves they deserve to be ranked higher, not lower. Many expected a close game today, but many were wrong. Michigan was clearly the better team in every facet of football. It’s the time of year when we separate contenders and pretenders, and after this big win, it’s clear Michigan’s for real.