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Three Takeaways From Penn State’s 41-17 Loss To Michigan

Penn State made it a game for a while, but Michigan’s dominant run game made all the difference.

Oct 15, 2022; Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA; Michigan Wolverines quarterback J.J. McCarthy (9) rushes in the first half in the first half against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Michigan Stadium. Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Saturday’s contest against Michigan did not go exactly as planned. The Nittany Lions got dominated on the ground, and could never really get off the field, as Michigan ran away with the victory. Here are your takeaways

1: A clear third

If you are of the belief that Ohio State is the best team in the conference, this game proved that Michigan is the unquestioned second best team. We’ll figure out who’s actually the best team in the conference in the last week of the season, but Penn State is clearly not in that conversation.

Of course, a certain Orange team will stake their claim as the third best in the conference, and given Penn State’s inability to stop the run in this one, they might be right!

2: Big plays were the difference

Penn State used two big plays to get back in the game when they were down 13-0. A big run from Sean Clifford set up the first touchdown, and a pick six from from Curtis Jacobs a little later made the game 14-13 in the Lions’ favor. In the second half, two big runs from Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards made a 17-16 Penn State lead quickly turn into a 31-17 deficit, and the Wolverines simply relied on their running game to close the game out.

Speaking of the running game, the Lions came into the contest ranked 5th in run defense. One could say Michigan had a lot to do with the performance, but it’s quite clear that the Lions are not the 5th best team at stopping the run. Manny Diaz will need to figure something out and quickly, because another team that likes to run the ball awaits a week later.

3: We all got our wish

As luck would have it, this exact situation was one discussed by our commentariat a few days ago. Penn State gets down big (or Clifford gets injured), the Lions opt to go with Drew Allar, and Allar leads a comeback that gives everyone hope for the future. The first two certainly happened, but but the miraculous comeback never came.

We didn’t get the miraculous comeback we all fantasized about, but one has to assume Allar is going to see increased playing time, if not an outright starting role, the rest of the way. And now that the façade of a Big Ten championship has been revealed, maybe it is time to see where we can go with Allar.