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No. 5 Michigan’s revenge tour adds No. 14 Penn State to the list

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The revenge tour for No. 5 Michigan (8-1, 6-0 Big Ten) had quite the second half performance against No. 14 Penn State (6-3, 3-3 Big Ten) on Saturday. The Wolverines dominated the hapless Nittany Lions 42-7 in a loud statement game in the latest game on Michigan’s revenge tour this season. Now with wins nailed down against three of the four teams to beat them last year (Wisconsin, Michigan State, Penn State), the eyes in Ann Arbor are already looking forward to the regular season finale against Ohio State for the grand finale.

Michigan’s defense, led by revenge tour frontman linebacker Chase Winovich set the tone in the first half by allowing just one third-down conversion to the Nittany Lions before halftime. Winovich sacked Trace McSorley and recovered a fumble in the first half as Michigan took a 14-0 lead into halftime with a Shea Patterson touchdown run and a pass to Donovan Peoples-Jones. Michigan continued to wear down Penn State on the line of scrimmage on both sides of the field, with the offense staying on the field for 11 minutes in the third quarter alone and doubling the lead heading to the fourth quarter.

Michigan delivered what felt like the knockout blow at the end of the third quarter when Patterson tossed a touchdown pass to Zach Gentry at the end of a 90-yard drive. Penn State’s defense appeared to be gassed on the drive after spending over 11 minutes on the field in the third quarter. But just moments later, that lopsided 21-0 lead became 28-0 when Tommy Stevens came in to replace McSorley at quarterback and Stevens tossed a pick-six to Brandon Watson.

With memories of Penn State running up the score on them a year ago in Happy Valley, Michigan continued to pour it on in the fourth quarter with more big plays on the ground. Karan Higdon (132 rushing yards) and Chris Evans (57 rushing yards) each scored a short touchdown run to pad the lead as Michigan continued to look like the class of the Big Ten. A late touchdown run by Stevens allowed Penn State to avoid being shutout for the first time since 2001, against Michigan.

The home team in this series has won by a lopsided score in each of the last three meetings, and the winning team has scored at least 42 points in each.

Michigan continues to build a steady place atop the Big Ten East standings. Now at 6-0 in Big Ten play, Michigan owns a one-game lead over Ohio State and a two-game lead over Michigan State with a head-to-head tiebreaker on the Spartans already under their belt. Penn State falls to 3-3 in Big Ten play and is now eliminated from contention for the Big Ten championship game with head-to-head losses to all three teams in front of them (Michigan, Michigan State, and Ohio State). With just Rutgers and Indiana left to play before ending the year on the road against Ohio State, it sure looks as though the Big Ten East could be decided in the regular season finale in Columbus, but Ohio State has been cracking and the possibility exists Michigan could clinch the East division before having to face Ohio State.

Michigan will be on the road against Rutgers next week. Penn State will look to rebound next week at home against Wisconsin. It will be the toughest game remaining for Penn State.

Michigan flexing on Penn State, pitching shutout in Big House

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When on the road against a top five team, you simply cannot make as many mistakes as Penn State did in the first half against Michigan. As a result, Penn State finds themselves trailing the Wolverines 14-0 in Ann Arbor, and it doesn’t really feel that close of a game. Failures on third downs, penalties, questionable coaching decisions and an inability to take advantage of opportunities have burned Penn State after one half, while Michigan continues to stick to their identity of power running and defense to hold the upper hand.

Penn State came out swinging on the first play of the game with Trace McSorley completing a 25-yard pass to tight end Pat Freiermuth to get the Nittany Lions to midfield, but back-to-back sacks by Chase Winovich and Josh Uche forced Penn State to punt the ball from their own 36-yard line. Penn State also had to burn a timeout on the punt too.

Karan Higdon then went to work on the ground, carrying the ball on each of Michigan’s first three plays with gains of one, 10, and 50 to get into the red zone. Quarterback Shea Patterson would be the player to get the Wolverines on the board a few plays later with a keeper off to the left side of the line.

Penn State appeared to create a great opportunity early in the second quarter with a blocked field goal attempt by former Penn State commitment Quinn Nordin. A return for a touchdown was taken off the board due to nullifying chop block penalties by Michigan and Penn State, but the Nittany Lions took over at the 35-yard line and quickly advanced to midfield following a pass interference penalty on the Wolverines. But one play later, McSorley and running back Miles Sanders had confusion on a handoff and Winovich pounced on a fumbled ball out of McSorley’s hands.

Michigan stuck with their running game to do most of the damage from there and Patterson ended a 10-play drive with a 23-yard touchdown pass to an open Donovan Peoples-Jones for a 14-0 lead.

Penn State didn’t pick up a third down conversion until the final two and a half minutes of the second quarter. At that point, Michigan held Penn State to -2 rushing yards while the Wolverines had 122 yards on the ground in the first half. Later in the half, Penn State appeared to be threatening to at least get some point son the scoreboard before halftime, but a missed wide open pass by McSorley to his intended receiver (DeAndre Thompkins) for an easy touchdown was followed by a sack on third down by Jordan Glasgow to move the ball well out of field goal position.

Michigan appears to be in great shape at the half, but Penn State is not buried just yet. If the Wolverines continue to pound away though, they could walk away with a big win against Penn State.

No. 6 Michigan too strong for No. 24 Michigan State; Wolverines win first road game vs. ranked opponent since 2006

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A week after blowing away Wisconsin, No. 6 Michigan (7-1, 5-0 Big Ten) was ready for a defensive showdown against No. 24 Michigan State (4-3, 2-2 Big Ten). Behind a strong performance by the Michigan defense against a battered Michigan State offense, the Wolverines overpowered the Spartans in a lightning-delayed game by a score of 21-7.

Shea Patterson passed for 212 yards and two touchdowns in the win, and Karan Higdon led things on the ground with 137 rushing yards on 31 rushing attempts. A 79-yard touchdown pass to Donovan Peoples-Jones down the right sideline in the third quarter gave Michigan a 14-7 lead. It was the only catch of the day for Peoples-Jones, and it could not have come at a better time.

Michigan State was happy to have running back LJ Scott back on the field after the senior running back had missed the last four games, but Scott was unable to have much of an impact as Michigan’s rushing defense was suffocating all afternoon. The Wolverines also made things difficult for Michigan State quarterback Brian Lewerke, who finished the day completing just 5-of-25 attempts for 66 yards. It did not help that Felton Davis III, who caught the game-winning pass at Penn State last week, went down with a reported torn Achilles in the second quarter. Lewerke was later replaced by Rocky Lombardi. Ironically, perhaps, Lewerke scored the only touchdown of the day for Michigan State by catching a pass on a trick play run by the Spartans that had Lewerke open for a pass from Darrell Stewart Jr. in the end zone.

The win snapped a 17-game losing streak for Michigan against ranked teams on the road that dated back to the final game of the 2006 regular season against Ohio State. Jim Harbaugh had been 0-4 against ranked teams when playing on the road, and this win also evens Harbaugh’s record against Michigan State and head coach Mark Dantonio.

Michigan will now get a well-deserved off week before taking the field again. When they do, they will be at home for a revenge game against Penn State. A win over the Nittany Lions (who lost to Michigan State last week) would firmly trim the Big Ten East race into a two-horse race between the Wolverines and Ohio State, if it isn’t one already. Penn State will be playing a home game against Iowa next week and Michigan State will host Purdue.

Michigan defense allows just 50 yards to Michigan State in first half

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You wanted defense? You sure have it this afternoon in East Lansing. Michigan leads Michigan State by a score of 7-0 at halftime. The Spartans have put together just 50 yards of total offense in the half against the Wolverines and have failed to convert a third down attempt on their home field.

Shea Patterson‘s touchdown pass to Nico Collins on the first play of the second quarter gave the Wolverines a 7-0 lead. It was the first passing touchdown by a Michigan player against the Spartans since Denard Robinson in 2011, and the first touchdown pass to give Michigan a lead on their in-state rivals since 2010.

The game was paused after about 10 minutes had been played during the first quarter due to lightning in the area. The weather delay lasted about 75 minutes as Michigan continued their drive to score the only touchdown of the half. Michigan had chances to add on to the lead multiple times, but the Wolverines were unable to put points on the board on three straight possessions that started in Michigan State territory. Quinn Nordin missed a 36-yard field goal and the other two possessions ended with punts to pin the Spartans in their end if not for a touchback.

Michigan State has simply not been able to figure anything out against the Michigan defense. The Spartans are 0-for-6 on third down.

Michigan State wide receiver Felton Davis III, who caught the game-winning catch last week at Penn State, was taken off the field sitting on a cart late in the first half.

No. 12 Michigan announces itself as B1G, CFP contender in pummeling No. 15 Wisconsin

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Though they led 13-7 at the half, there was a concern all the points No. 12 Michigan left on the field would come back to haunt them in the second half. There was the missed field goal on the first drive of the game. There was the interception return deep into Badger territory that netted only three points. And then there was the Shea Patterson fumble that saw another promising drive come up empty.

Turns out those concerns were unfounded. Michigan’s defense scored enough on its own to lead the Wolverines to victory as Jim Harbaugh‘s crew cruised to a cathartic 38-13 win over No. 15 Wisconsin at the Big House.

Michigan (6-1, 4-0 Big Ten) accepted the ball to open the second half and marched 75 yards in 10 plays, moving into scoring position on a 25-yard Karan Higdon rush and then finding paydirt on a 7-yard Patterson keeper. Patterson found Nico Collins for a 2-point conversion, putting the maize and blue up 21-7 at the 10:21 mark of the third quarter.

That score would prove to be enough to secure the win, but Michigan wasn’t done there. A 35-yard Quinn Nordin field goal stretched the lead to 24-7 with 11:36 remaining, and then Lavert Hill slammed the door when he intercepted Alex Hornibrook and returned the ball 21 yards for a touchdown. At that point in the game, Hornibrook had completed three passes to Wisconsin (4-2, 2-1 Big Ten) receivers and two to Michigan defenders.

The quarterback run game, which earlier sprung Patterson for an 81-yard rush to set up Michigan’s first score, flashed again when backup Dylan McCaffrey broke free for a 44-yard touchdown with 5:16 left in the game.

Though he wasn’t perfect, Patterson was more than enough to win, hitting 14-of-20 passes for 124 yards while rushing nine times for 90 yards and a touchdown. Higdon out-rushed Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor, carrying 19 times for 105 yards and a touchdown to Taylor’s 17 carries for 101 yards.

Effective as Taylor was, he couldn’t carry Wisconsin’s offense by himself. Hornibrook completed just 7-of-20 passes for 100 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions; the touchdown and the bulk of those yards came with the Badgers already trailing by 31 points.

Though the Badgers are still the Big Ten West favorites until they’re not, Saturday’s loss eliminates them from College Football Playoff contention and exposed enough cracks to show the Badgers aren’t a real threat to beat whoever comes out of the Big Ten East.

Michigan, meanwhile, now completes Phase 1 of a crucial 3-game stretch over the second half of their season. The Wolverines visit Michigan State on Saturday and then, after an off week, host No. 8 Penn State. Both teams beat Michigan a year ago — just as Wisconsin did.