Fight the Power (Michigan 41, Penn State 17)

Photo: Patrick Barron/MGoBlog

Michigan beat Penn State 41-17 in what began as a stupid rock fight in the first half while Michigan dropped a few rocks on themselves, and became a one-sided slaughter once the score finally caught up with the stat sheet in the second.

Michigan ran 65% of their 79 plays from the Penn State side of the 50. 

They had possession for almost 42 minutes. 

Michigan never punted. 

Four hundred and eighteen rushing yards. Against Penn State. In a top ten matchup. Get the F outta here.

Like last year, every game is another step in Michigan figuring things out. Like a guy who goes out and buys a shiny new thing and eventually learns what all the buttons can do. Michigan's offense is still learning what all the buttons can do. But those buttons can do a lot. It's a process. 

And while offenses take a little while longer to get there because they're inherently more nuanced, the defense is already fully armed and operational. For reasons passing understanding, we lost Mike McDonald, Aidan Hutchinson, David Ojabo, Dax Hill and Josh Ross...and got better. There's still a lot of season left to go, but man, how good will this group get?

This was yet another game where an opposing quarterback left early because he's either injured or it's just cruel and unusual to leave a kid out there while 290-pound boulders chase him down and collide into him from opposite directions over and over again.

The long and short of it is Penn State got overwhelmed by a much better team on Saturday. List any and all stats that you want, they all paint a glowing picture of a Michigan program that has come light years from whatever that poor excuse for a season we had in 2020. God, that feels like 20 years ago. 

Say what you want, and I could say plenty, but this game was over before it started because of the fundamental difference between both programs. Michigan is becoming a unicorn in college football as a team that won't kill you with flash, but will bleed you dry over the course of 60 minutes using a punishing defense and a ground game that is all about ball control. That, and the fact that our quarterback does have a rocket arm and can run a 4.5 forty. 

That's how Michigan wins now. Frustratingly sound football with the elusive threat of a homerun at any moment. And it's almost impossible to beat if things are going right.

This is all to say that Michigan now finds itself on a collision course with the Buckeyes on November 26th. I mean, really, thats all thats left. Okay, yeah, Michigan State is a rivalry and throw out the record books, blah blah blah...I don't see how Michigan could possibly be overlooking the Spartans after what happened last year. And I can't believe I'm saying this, but I guess you have to circle Illinois on Nov. 19, the week before The Game, as a possible showdown now as well.

I guess?

Anyway, I'm not going to say anything about Ohio State other than no one has looked unbeatable this season in college football. And even though they're putting on shows every week lighting up terrible opponents, they're still vulnerable against the exact type of team Michigan is. Every team is vulnerable against what Michigan is – that's maybe the craziest part of all this. I'm not saying history will repeat itself but the only way to slow down Ohio State's vaunted passing game is to pressure Stroud and keep him off the field as much as possible – the two biggest strengths Michigan has.

Regardless of what Michigan does between now and the last game of the season, no one nationally is going to be giving the Wolverines a realistic shot at the upset in Columbus. And that's fine. No one did last year either. The narrative that's out there right now is Michigan is one-dimensional on offense, and while the defense is pretty good, there's no way anyone can slow down CJ Stroud and his dynamic receivers. 

Sound familiar?

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