Thursday , June 13 2024

Three takeaways: Michigan rides rushing attack, defense to 24-15 win

Without its head coach, Michigan walked into Happy Valley and pulled out a statement win over a top-10 Penn State team. Neither offense was terribly dominant, but Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards each scored touchdowns in the first half to help the Wolverines to a 14-9 lead at the break.

Corum added a second rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter to put Penn State away.

The game went just about as expected, with the defense leading the way. Here are three takeaways from Michigan’s impressive 24-15 win.

Michigan survives without Jim Harbaugh

The biggest story in sports continues to unfold in real time. Jim Harbaugh made the trip to Happy Valley only to watch his football team compete from his hotel room. Michigan took care of business, though, and the team will head back to Ann Arbor with a perfect 10-0 record.

Michigan made a huge statement to the Big Ten and the entire country on Saturday afternoon, but the Wolverines accomplished a task not many teams could — win without your head coach on the road in a raucous environment.

The Wolverines did a fantastic job of surviving what could’ve been a disastrous situation. The team will return home with a big exhale of relief.

Harbaugh will still be able to coach throughout the week, but attention will once again quickly turn to his availability for the final two games of the regular season against Maryland and Ohio State.

Michigan proved on Saturday in Happy Valley that it is capable of winning without its head coach, but it would be much more comfortable facing off against No. 1 Ohio State with the head man on the sidelines.

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Michigan wins battle of nation’s top defenses

Entering the game, everyone knew it would be a low-scoring affair, but the defenses shined even brighter than many expected. Neither quarterback surpassed 70 yards through the air, and the difference in the game was a few big runs from Michigan’s running back dynamic duo.

Blake Corum recorded his longest rush of the season (44 yards) in the second quarter, and Donovan Edwards also ran for a 22-yard score later on in the drive.

Other than that, there wasn’t a whole lot going on in terms of offensive firepower in Saturday’s game. Roman Wilson was held without a catch for the first time all season, and Michigan was hesitant to use McCarthy’s arm in the second half.

The Wolverines allowed an opponent inside the 10-yard line for the first time all season, but Jesse Minter’s defense did an excellent job of bending, not breaking.

Drew Allar scored Penn State’s first touchdown, and he threw for one more late in the fourth quarter, but Michigan kept its streak alive of not allowing any points in the third quarter. Once again, the Wolverines’ defense was suffocating in the second half.

Penn State had multiple opportunities to drive and potentially tie the game, but even when the Michigan offense struggled, the defense stepped up to hold the lead and ultimately bring home the victory.

Sherrone Moore elects to run, run, run

Michigan’s first offensive drive of the second half featured 13 plays and 45 yards. The Wolverines took 8:04 off the clock, and they didn’t call a single pass play. The drive ended in a James Turner field goal, but acting head coach Sherrone Moore seemed perfectly content running the ball and killing the clock.

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The Turner field goal gave Michigan an eight-point lead late in the third quarter, and it was the first points the Penn State defense had given up in the third quarter all season. Minter’s defense held the exact same feat, but the Wolverines shut down Allar and the Penn State offense to carry the feat into next week’s Maryland game.

Even after the incredibly long eight-minute drive, Moore continued to call run play after run play. It wasn’t until midway through the fourth quarter until McCarthy threw his first pass of the second half. It was intended for A.J. Barner, but Penn State was flagged for pass interference, so the pass didn’t count.

All in all, Michigan attempted just eight passes all game, and all eight came in the first half.

Michigan ran the ball 46 times in the game, but it was enough to escape and get out of State College with a victory.

The Wolverines will set their sights on Maryland next week before the big showdown against Ohio State on Nov. 25.

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