Michigan 49, Penn State 10

Michigan jumps out to a big early lead against Penn State and never looks back.

Melanie Maxwell - MLive
The Michigan Football team showed up at the Big House today ranked number 4 in the nation. The Penn State bus showed up at the Big House, but I'm not quite sure who or what got off the bus and into football pads.

If there's one word to describe Michigan's performance today it's, methodical. On both sides of the ball Michigan put on a clinic. The offense put up 49 points and amassed 515 yards of total offense. Wilton Speight looked confident and found a rhythm pretty much immediately; going 21 for 35, totaling 189 yards and 1 touchdown. But the story of the game on offense was without a doubt the rushing game. It was another effort by committee, with 7 players picking up yardage totaling 326. 

The standout performances came from De'Veon Smith (12 carries for 107 yards and 1 TD) and Karan Higdon (9 carries for 81 yards and 2 TDs). But Ty Isaac (11 carries for 74 yards and 1 TD) and Chris Evans (8 carries for 56 yards and 1 TD) also made huge contributions. Much had been made in the college football media in recent weeks about the somewhat under-performing Michigan rushing game, and although Penn State was almost completely depleted of its inside line backing core, I thought that the rushing unit came out and made a strong statement.

But whenever an offense puts up 515 yards of total offense, you better believe the big boys up front were handling business. 

Speight was rarely rushed or pressured, and running backs often had holes they could have run backwards through for first downs. As dominate as Michigan's offensive line was, the defensive line may have been even more impressive. Penn State quarterback, Trace McSorley rarely had any time to throw and often found himself in pockets that collapsed faster than a $20 tent. The defensive line racked up 6 sacks for a loss of 27 yards, and finished with 10 tackles for loss amounting in 37 lossed yards. Michigan's defensive line had piled up a solid number of sacks and TFLs in their previous 3 games, mostly from beating opposing offensive linemen with more physical play, or simply just wearing offensive lines down. 

But today I saw some coverage sacks on the rare occasions when McSorely did have some time in the pocket. There was a much more balanced feel to Michigan's defensive game today than there had been in the 3 weeks leading up to today. And I have a sneaking suspicion that a lot of that had something to do with the addition of an All-American Cornerback, one Mr. Jourdan Lewis. Though he only had 2 tackles (1 for a loss) and 1 pass break-up, his mere presence and the respect he demands, greatly altered what Penn State could do in their passing game to one side of the field. I got a chance after the game to ask him how he felt out there, and he replied, "physically I'm 100%, I just have to trust my body." Adding, "when you first get out there you have to adjust a little bit, 'cause I missed three weeks." When asked if his recent injury had any mental affect on his game he simply stated, "I know I'm prepared to play the game, so I just go out there and react." There's no doubt that Lewis' return will have a major impact on the defense being able to perform at its highest level in the coming weeks and games.

Really, there was only one negative to today's game if you're a Michigan coach, player or fan, and that was the loss of 5th year senior cornerback, Jeremy Clark. Who Jim Harbaugh suspects went down with a torn ACL. Harbaugh added, "it would have been considered an A++ day without that happening." When Jourdan Lewis was asked about the injury he said, "I almost cried on the sideline." 

You could tell that the loss of Clark, for what looks to be the season, overshadowed today's win somewhat. 

With that being said, the team's level of focus seems to be right where it needs to be going into a week of preparation for a game that after Wisconsin's thrashing of MSU, will no doubt have huge implications in not only the Big Ten, but the CFB playoffs as well...

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