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Penn State hands Michigan first loss in fourth overtime

Michigan v Penn State Getty Images

I had to rewrite this game story a few times. You see, Michigan had a ten point lead midway through the fourth quarter and Penn State’s offense was looking to be out of steam. But then, almost out of nowhere it seemed, Penn State pulled an 80-yard touchdown drive with 50 seconds to play in regulation with no timeouts to use. The score tied the game at 34-34 but Michigan still had a chance to sneak out of State College with a win, but a 52-yard attempt by Brendan Gibbons in the final seconds of the game fell short, which ended up sending the game in to overtime. Things really started to get crazy after that.

Penn State served Michigan their first loss of the season, with Bill Belton scoring the game-winning touchdown in the fourth overtime for a 43-40 victory that 107,000 fans will not soon forget. Belton’s touchdown was the only time in four overtimes the ball crossed a goal line. Michigan had their chances to secure another tight victory this season, but a mixture of special teams failures and missed opportunities would come back to haunt the Wolverines.

In the first overtime Penn State kicker Sam Ficken missed a 40-yard attempt, but Michigan was unable to capitalize because the Nittany Lions special teams unit blocked a 40-yard attempt set up by conservative play calling. Michigan got as close as the eight yard line to open the second overtime, setting Gibbons up for a 25-yard field goal. Penn State would answer with a 36-yard kick from Ficken to force a third overtime.

The third overtime started ominously for Penn State when Allen Robinson fumbled the first play of the third overtime. On an end-around play, Robinson never gained control of a handoff from Penn State’s freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg. The ball dropped loose in the back field and Michigan defensive lineman Frank Clark pounced on the ball to turn the game over to Michigan’s offense with a golden opportunity to walk out of Beaver Stadium with their first win against the Nittany Lions since 2007. But from 33 yards back, Gibbons had his kick fly left of the goal post despite being set up in the middle of the field. Yes, this game would need a fourth overtime and it was becoming clear this one was not going to be decided by special teams.

the fourth overtime did not go well for Michigan’s offense. Two incomplete passes by Devin Gardner failed to move the football forward, and a delay of game put Michigan back on the 30-yard line. A seven-yard run by Gardner set Gibbons up for a 40-yard attempt, which was good for a 40-37 lead before Penn State got their chance. Penn State relied on the running game to start moving the football forward, with Belton carrying the load. Belton had taken over in the backfield as the primary rusher after Zach Zwinak‘s struggles became a problem. Belton carried the football three times to put Penn State in a fourth and one. Rather than kick and move to a fifth overtime, Penn State head coach Bill O’Brien kept his offense on the field to pick up the first down. It worked, with Belton showing patience to pick up a couple of extra yards. After a pass interference call against Michigan in the end zone gave Penn State a free first down, Belton cashed in with a run to the left side of the field and nothing but open room from two yards out. The touchdown by Belton clinched the win for Penn State and sent Michigan home regretting giving Penn State a shot at this one.

Michigan’s defense had done a good job in the second half, which started with a fumble returned for a touchdown on Penn State’s first play of the second half. The return cut Penn State’s lead to 21-17 and the Wolverines took a 27-24 lead in to the fourth quarter. A 37-yard touchdown pass from Gardner to tightend Devin Funchess caught Penn State without a safety on the field and a linebacker chasing down field well out of position. It was a play like that which seemed to show how Penn State’s depth issues were starting to hurt them. But this Penn State team found a way to bounce back when the going got tough, something that eluded them a week ago in Bloomington, Indiana. Penn State gets all sorts of credit for coming back the way they did time and time again, but there are some real concerns about Michigan going forward now.

Michigan once again struggled in a game they probably should have won without much of a problem. The road woes continued for Michigan head coach Brady Hoke, and now the Wolverines are left scratching their heads instead of celebrating a 6-0 start. Can Michigan still come back and make a run for Indianapolis, the site of the Big Ten championship game? Absolutely, because nobody in the Big Ten’s Legends Division is running away with anything. Northwestern lost to Wisconsin and Michigan still has games against the Wildcats, Michigan State and Nebraska ahead of them before getting to Ohio State.

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30 Responses to “Penn State hands Michigan first loss in fourth overtime”
  1. CBFAN says: Oct 12, 2013 9:52 PM

    Michigan may not win another game this season.

  2. elwaysmilehighdenver says: Oct 12, 2013 9:53 PM

    Michigan did everything possible to lose that game. Congrats PSU you scored more points.

  3. northwest1111 says: Oct 12, 2013 10:05 PM

    Michigan is way overrated, typical Big 10 hype, barely beat a MAC oppenent at home and scaped by a few other wins…..more of the same big school bias.

  4. wmatthew760 says: Oct 12, 2013 10:05 PM

    Goes to show that heart & spirit can win games Michigan the much more talented team. We are…..

  5. Deb says: Oct 12, 2013 10:13 PM

    Cannot BELIEVE I turned off this game thinking Michigan had it in the bag and nothing left to see here. Beats head on keyboard. Stupid, stupid, stupid!

  6. hoopsvader says: Oct 12, 2013 10:22 PM

    Bring back RichRod, this fatass eats donuts all day and loses to PSU.

  7. gershonpsu says: Oct 12, 2013 10:25 PM


  8. mrlaloosh says: Oct 12, 2013 10:31 PM

    Wolverines lose to “don’t drop the soap U”. Sad.

  9. 7mantel says: Oct 12, 2013 10:39 PM

    We are !

  10. vegasjack1 says: Oct 12, 2013 10:48 PM

    mrlaloosh: Seriously? Are you in 6th grade, or is that just a personal fantasy of yours? On the adult level, what a great game to watch! Enjoyable!

  11. barkleyblows says: Oct 12, 2013 10:52 PM

    Michigan is just terrible!! And I love it!!

    Go Blow!!!

  12. jtumen88 says: Oct 12, 2013 11:00 PM

    I called this game on the radio and I can say this was the best football game I’ve ever seen in my life. Penn State was dead in the water and they absolutely deserve every bit of that win

  13. thegloriousone says: Oct 12, 2013 11:04 PM

    Michigan has been squeaking by all year. They were the worst undefeated team in thge country.

  14. polegojim says: Oct 12, 2013 11:13 PM

    Can’t disagree with any ‘mature’ criticism.

    All credit to Penn State and Hackenberg!!!

    Michigan took every advantage of 5 GREAT ways to lose that game.

    Turnovers… Gardner is proving he doesn’t have the head to manage the game
    No Running Game… pathetic scheme blocking
    Not getting minimal 5-10 yards needed for their kicker in the 4th
    Poor Blocking for the blocked kick – weak weak weak
    #5… HORRENDOUS offensive play calling.
    Borges should just skip 1st downs, they don’t seem to matter to him anyway.

    They’ve tried to lose 3 weeks in a row, and succeeded today.

  15. vincentbojackson says: Oct 12, 2013 11:26 PM

    This kills Ohio State. An unbeaten Michigan was going to be the only thing to give their weak schedule any credibility. Now where’s their signature win? Two loss Wisconsin? Two loss Northwestern?

  16. buckimion says: Oct 12, 2013 11:43 PM

    Vincent –

    Only one thing matters – keep winning.

  17. amosalanzostagg says: Oct 13, 2013 12:39 AM

    Penn State looked great with a freshman QB.

    Keep the faith, Penn State!

  18. jrs45 says: Oct 13, 2013 12:50 AM


  19. bobc74 says: Oct 13, 2013 7:40 AM

    This game illustrates perfectly why overtime should be sudden death. You said it yourself in the article. Bill O’Brien played to WIN at the end of the 4th OT, not just to get to OT #5. Where was that intensity in the 1st OT? Now if the first team to score any points won, that would be much better. Enough of this “both teams need a chance” crap. They both had 4 quarters of chances during the game.

  20. tobeexact says: Oct 13, 2013 9:26 AM

    First of all its the other way around ,bill obrien and hackensburg letting michigan hang around and giving michigan life or a pulse. First one was obrien going for it on his own 30 yard line which lead to a michigan field goal to take a ten to seven lead. Then with less then two minutes left in the first half hackensburg being a true freshman missed a wide open allen robinson which would of made it 28to 10 at the half . Then as you say the michigan kicker missed a 52 yarder before ot , well sam ficken missed a 42 yarder which could of prevented ot,see where im going with this ,you can write a story either way. And hackensburg threw two big interceptions as well in which michigan scored on.
    But here is what ive seen every game this year, and thats the backfield judge /ref , the one that sits behind the qb and should be throwing flags for offensive holding,blocking in the back and down right tackling penn state defensive players not throwing his penalty flag on out right blatant calls. Almost every big play michigan had , gardner should have been sacked, even when they showed the replay of a play for other reasons , the blocks in the back ,holding and the tackling of a penn state defensive player was right there in the middle of the replay . I watched one play where gardner was running down the sidelines and a michigan receivereciever right in front of the side judge ,tackled and or wrestled a penn state defender to the ground which resulted in gardner getting a first down. Ever since the sanctions the refs think they are part of them.
    Its actually so bad its hard to watch a game.
    And its the same when penn state is on offense ,i dont know how many big plays have been called back for holding and even the announcers have said they were horrible calls.
    And last I dont call brady hoke being conservative in ot when all you need is a field goal to win and you have a se noir kicker who is considered one of the best in the fbs.
    Of course you run the ball , get it in the center of the field and let him win the game. Thats normally a no brainer.
    But dont tell me it was michigan given the game away , this should have been a penn state blow out win.

  21. tobeexact says: Oct 13, 2013 9:39 AM

    I do happen to agree with having sudden death overtime instead of each team starting at the opposing teams 30 yard line .
    If thats what there gona stick with at least make em start at midfield, shit the way it is now most college kickers are in field goal range before they take a snap and most college qbs can throw a 30 yard td .at least make it a little more challenging to score even a field goal.

  22. MyTeamsAllStink says: Oct 13, 2013 10:05 AM

    when did Steve Schirpa start coaching Michigan?and how has this hire been any better than Rodriguez?They’ll get crushed by OSU in the same fashion.

  23. gary2525 says: Oct 13, 2013 10:25 AM

    That was horrible coaching on michigan part the oc called a bad game in overtime played way to conservative u call plays to score a td not run right run right then QB run to the middle if the field and fall down that was pathetic

  24. dkhhuey says: Oct 13, 2013 10:28 AM

    Brady Hoke is a career .500 coach and it shows – he has gotten out coached game after game and it is only because of the shear athletic talent of their players that they are able to eek out a victory against grossly over-matched teams. Yesterday, they played a team with athletic talent closer to their level and it was apparent that Bill O’Brian had a much better game plan and his team was much more prepared to play!

  25. timmons94 says: Oct 13, 2013 10:53 AM

    Brady. Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to thru life. Michigan is irrelevant.

  26. dryzzt23 says: Oct 13, 2013 11:01 AM

    Gardner is not a QB. UM needs to stop with these “athletic” QBs and go back to using classic drop-back QBs.

    Hoke has out-recruited the entire Big Ten and most of the country. UM would be wise to keep him.

  27. packhawk04 says: Oct 13, 2013 12:30 PM

    Jm just hoping no big ten team gets embarrassed in the bowl games. Really hoping OSU loses at some point so they dont get blown away by a real team. Then at least we can wonder what wouldve happened if a big ten team had to play a real team. OSU will likely be sacrificial lamb again.

  28. dkhhuey says: Oct 13, 2013 2:16 PM

    Out recruiting means nothing if you can’t coach them – see Ron Zook and Charlie Weis!

  29. xli2006 says: Oct 14, 2013 10:02 AM

    What a difference a week makes.

    7 days earlier that same PSU team got dismantled by Indiana.

    ESPN covered the story saying “Penn State really bought into Bill O’ Brien” … uhhhh, just a reminder that Fans were calling for his head all week long prior to the Michigan game.

    Michigan possibly just got exposed after escaping some very average performances earlier this year.

  30. mauricehodapp says: Oct 15, 2013 10:52 AM

    OSU now needs michigan to win the rest of the season and win big, because if they don’t then OSU doesn’t have anyone on their schedule that is a quality opponent.

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