Your eyes weren't deceiving you -- Michigan's first offensive drive against Penn State looked a lot like their first quarter performance against the Lions last year in Happy Valley. Tate Forcier and Brandon Minor led a steady, precise 70 yard touchdown drive against little resistance from the Nittany Lions. There was good reason for concern, but the afternoon quickly turned into complete domination by Penn State. It was not just a solid road win against a pretty good team. The Lions came together and produced their best showing of the season, one week after their last-best performance of 2009.
Wish you could play Iowa next week? Me too, although nothing appears to be stopping that freight train anymore. And for the record, you haven't lived until you've perused the BHGP comments from last night's liveblog and this morning's afterglow. Hard not to root for those people.
Back to Penn State and Michigan. You know it's a good game when the reporters from the other side use terms like "scared" and "panicked". Daryll Clark threw four touchdowns -- three of them to tiny white possession receiver Graham Zug. After Michigan's opening scoring drive, they racked up a grand total of three points and 180 yards over the final 56 minutes of the game.
What flipped Penn State's switch? A little confidence from the top.
So on Friday night at the team hotel, Paterno provided a pick-me-up to his players.
"He said, 'I've been telling you guys how good I think you are. It's time you tell me how good you are, and go out and play that way,'" Penn State quarterbacks coach Jay Paterno said. "It was a great moment [Friday] night. When they left the snack last night, they were all pumped up."
The younger Paterno walked up to senior quarterback Daryll Clark after the meeting.
"He goes, 'Damn, I'm ready now,'" Jay said.
Joe Paterno's attitude adjustment continued in the moments before the game:
Paterno continued to emphasize his point in the stadium tunnel moments before kickoff.
"Both teams come out of the same tunnel, and we were waiting for Michigan to go down [first]," Clark said. "They're going rah-rah and making a lot of noise, running down the tunnel. We looked over and Joe and he's jumping up and down, talking about, 'Yeah, yeah.'
"I'm looking at him and I'm like, 'OK, it's time to play some football.'"
And so it went for Penn State, a week that began with questions about the remnants of the losing streak against Michigan, and a game that began with a cold, cutting Michigan touchdown drive ended with the Lions repeatedly dropping the hammer on a helpless Wolverine team. Penn State, with its wholly flawed national resume and the clunker against Iowa now officially in the background, established itself as a BCS contender and appears to be peaking at the right time.