(Featured image courtesy of Eric Upchurch)
Ann Arbor, Michigan
The Michigan Wolverines welcomed the Nittany Lions of Penn State to the Big House to open up conference play for both teams. Michigan won all three of their non-conference games in dominant fashion, while Penn State finished 2-1 after dropping a week 2 matchup to Pitt. But the Michigan Men would look dominant once again as they smashed Penn State, 49-10.
Stepping away from the football aspect of the game, several Michigan players held their fists up during the national anthem to show their protest of racial injustice. Jourdan Lewis, Mike McCray, Khalid Hill, and a few more participated in this gesture. After the game, Coach Harbaugh was asked about his players raising their fists in protest. Harbaugh responded by saying he supports them, “Because I am the football coach doesn’t mean I can dictate to people what they believe. I support our guys. I think this is something, that’s not going away, it’s gonna keep happening.”
Easily the best rushing performance of the Harbaugh era, the Wolverines plowed Penn State on the ground. The running attack piled up 326 yards from 7 different runners to score 6 of Michigan’s 7 touchdowns on the day. De’Veon Smith led the way with 107 yards on 12 carries with a score at the end of the first. Following Smith was Karan Higdon who had the best game of his career at Michigan. Higdon ran for 81 yards on 9 carries for two touchdowns. His second touchdown came on a 40-yard delayed handoff. Ty Isaac, Chris Evans, and Khalid Hill each added a touchdown and combined for 132 yards. Wilton Speight and Eddie McDoom add 10 to complete the 326 yard outing. Imagine adding Jabrill Peppers, a healthy Drake Johnson, and premier freshman Kareem Walker to the running game and it’d be dangerous! Penn State could not seem to stop any runner Michigan threw at them. Let’s hope that the Wolverines can keep this running momentum going next week when 8th ranked Wisconsin comes to Ann Arbor.
High Flying Defense
Penn State hadn’t faced a defense like Michigan’s this season, and on Saturday, they found out just how good Don Brown’s defense can play. Aside from Saquon Barkley, the Penn State offense was at a halt. Barkley had 59 of the 70 rushing yards and 77 of the 121 receiving yards. Penn State QB Trace McSorley was sacked 6 times by the Michigan front 7. McSorley also threw an interception which was taken back 22 yards by Mike McCray. The Wolverines also forced a fumble late in the fourth which ultimately ended the game. Michigan welcomed back 2 big names to the defense: Taco Charlton and Jourdan Lewis. Charlton, who injured his ankle in the season opener against Hawaii, had 3 tackles in the game. 2 of them tackles for loss. Also 1.5 sacks in the game. Lewis, who played his first game of this season, collected 2 tackles with 1 of them a tackle for loss. The All-American also had 1 pass breakup. Jeremy Clark went down with a torn ACL in the 4th. The injury will end his season and his final year at the University of Michigan. Our prayers are with him for a safe recovery. The Michigan defense is looking top notch and they’ll need to be ready to go next week for the Badgers.
Michigan’s first 4 games have been against average opponents. Week 5 brings the 8th ranked Wisconsin Badgers to Ann Arbor. Wisconsin has already beaten 2 top-10 teams this season: #5 LSU and #8 Michigan State. The Wolverines and the Badgers have similar styles of play. They both like to use pro-style offenses with a run first mentality and use their tight ends and fullbacks more than most teams. Both teams have fantastic defenses that like to cause turnovers for scores. Expect this game to be a hard-hitting, physical game that’ll be won in the trenches. Saturday, October 1st, 3:30 pm at the Big House in Ann Arbor on ABC. #8 Wisconsin @ #4 Michigan. Won’t wanna miss it!