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Turning Point of the Game: Penn State

What was the moment that turned the tide?

Penn State v Michigan Photo by Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images

The No. 5 Michigan Wolverines were seen as a product of their schedule; that they were only where they were because they had played and beaten much weaker opposition. For all that’s been said about the Wolverines this season, nothing was more satisfying than their 41-17 domination of No. 10 Penn State.

Before Saturday, there was true contention among Penn State and Michigan to compete with Ohio State for the Big Ten East. While the Nittany Lions aren’t out yet, as they’ll face Ohio State in two weeks, there are now more factors they will need to fall into place to return to Indy.

Michigan played like a team that was seeking to defend its Big Ten title. There was a lot of outside noise that counted them out before the season started. The magic they created a year ago was that of the past. So this 2022 Michigan team came out to set the record straight.

While the score at the end of the first half suggested a different story, Penn State had only completed one first down in that time. The Wolverines had only given up one explosive play, the 62-yard rush by Sean Clifford. This set up the first score of the game for the Nittany Lions and they were mere inches from a turnover on downs at Michigan’s 1-yard line.

With luck and a football bonked off a defensive lineman helmet on their side, Penn State would find the end zone for the second and final time. After another stop in the red zone, the Wolverines would settle for a field goal to go up 16-14 heading into halftime.

At the start of the third quarter, the Wolverines held Penn State to a field goal, their final score of the game. Their next possession would be the turning point of the game.

The Wolverines were looking at a 3rd and 4 situation, when McCarthy rushed for eight yards for the first down to Michigan’s 33. Michigan’s next play would see the handoff to Donovan Edwards. With crucial blocks set up by Michigan’s offensive linemen Olu Oluwatimi and Zak Zinter, Edwards was given the space to rush for 67 yards for the touchdown. The combination of the offensive line’s excellence and Edwards’ lighting speed defined the tone for Michigan for the remainder of this game. Hence why this week, Edwards’ long touchdown was the turning point of the game.

Penn State’s next possession saw the Nittany Lions driving in response. After getting to the Michigan 37, the Nittany Lions were called for pass interference to set up a third and long situation. Clifford rushed for 16 yards and was brought down short of the first down by Will Johnson.

Penn State opted to go for it on 4th and 6 and Clifford’s pass was incomplete with Mike Sainristil on the coverage. This defensive stop set up Corum’s 61-yard touchdown run on Michigan’s subsequent drive. The combination of all three of those possessions immediately altered how this game would end. They were a visible and palpable example of Michigan’s dominance.

It was a story many Michigan fans had heard before. An elite ground game elevated Michigan to victory with some crucial stops from the defense. Now the Wolverines enter the bye on a high note.