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Season Stolen: Michigan 24, Penn State 15

The football was less than complementary

NCAA Football: Michigan at Penn State Matthew O’Haren-USA TODAY Sports

On a beautiful November day, the Penn State Nittany Lions clashed with the Michigan Wolverines. And what a battle it was in front of 110,856 fans, the second largest crowd in Penn State history.

Penn State deferred the kick to the second half, giving Michigan the ball first. Chop Robinson managed to get a hit on JJ McCarthy on the second play of the game, getting him right back into the action. After the Wolverines got a first down, they went backwards, and a big sack on third down by Dani Dennis-Sutton gave the Lions the ball at their 26 yard line.

Nicholas Singleton got the start for Penn State at running back, but the offense couldn’t get anything going, ending in a three-and-out on their first drive. Michigan took back over and nearly fumbled the ball away on first down, though managed to recover it. A second sack, this time by Chop, resulted in another punt.

On the next drive, Drew Allar found Tyler Warren over the middle for a big gain to midfield. A steady mix of Singleton, with some help from an Allar scramble got the Lions to the 4 yard line. A tush push saw the Lions get first and goal, but they couldn’t punch it in, and so settled for an Alex Felkins field goal to go up 3-0.

Michigan rattled of a quick first down, followed by a McCarthy designed run for another to close the first quarter. A big run to start the second quarter got Michigan down to the Penn State 27, and another big third down conversion got the Wolverines to the 6 yard line. An illegal substitution penalty moved the ball again, and Michigan punched it in to go up 7-3 early in the second quarter.

Kaytron Allen took the first carry of the next drive for nine yards, but the Lions couldn’t convert a first down and had to punt the ball away on fourth and inches. Another quick Michigan first down and Blake Corum broke free for a huge rush down the left sideline to the Lions’ 21 yard line. Following two timeouts by the Wolverines, it seemed the defense had things contained but Donovan Edwards broke free on the right side and it was suddenly 14-3.

On the ensuing drive, Kaytron Allen broke free for a 34 yard rush to the Michigan 41, but the offense stalled again. On 4th and 6 at the 37 yard line, the Lions converted with a nice pass to Kaden Saunders to keep the drive alive.

The Lions pulled out the Philly Special for another fourth down conversion a few moments later to the Michigan 11 yard line. Drew Allar kept it from there, charging in for a TD. The Lions attempted a 2-point conversion but couldn’t connect, making it 14-9 with less than 30 seconds left in the half.

Penn State received the ball to start the second half, and Allar again used his legs to gain a first down to get things going. On another third down attempt, Drew appeared to have the first down, but the ball was punched out, and was recovered by Michigan at the Penn State 49 yard line.

On the ensuing drive, Michigan put together a few gains on the ground, before the defense held the Wolverines up for a 4th and inches at the 31 yard line. McCarthy unfortunately sprung free for the conversion, getting the ball into the red zone. The defense ultimately held, keeping Michigan to just a field goal attempt, extending the lead to 17-9.

The Lions got back to work on offense, with Tyler Warren converting an early third down attempt, but ultimately stalled out near midfield. Riley Thompson boomed the punt, which was downed at the Michigan 3 yard line.

In the shadows of the student section, Michigan had to burn a timeout, before coming up just short on third down. Following the punt - and a holding penalty - Penn State took over at their 28 yard line.

On the next drive, the Lions attempted a flea flicker, but without an open receiver, Allar threw it away - only it ended in an intentional grounding penalty. A deep attempt fell incomplete, and the Lions handed it back to the Wolverines once more, despite the refs not calling an obvious block in the back on the return.

Michigan proceeded to hand the ball off again and again, knowing the clock was the biggest impediment to their victory. A questionable pass interference call on Kalen King moved the ball to the Penn State 33 yard line. A false start and a negative rush moved the Wolverines back to midfield, where they ultimately had to punt.

Backs against the figurative - and literal - wall, the Lions took over at their 12 yard line, needing a spark on offense. That spark proved to be elusive, and Penn State went three and out. A 56-yard punt by Thompson moved Michigan back to their 31 yard line, but again the clock was doing Penn State no favors.

The defense did its part yet again, forcing a Michigan three-and-out, and the Lions got the ball back with less than 5 minutes to go in the game at their 26 yard line. Facing 4th and 6 at their 30 yard line, and no clock left, Penn State had to go for it, but Drew’s pass fell incomplete.

The writing was on the wall from there, as Michigan scored a touchdown on the very next play to make it 24-9. The first play of the next drive saw Drew Allar nearly get intercepted.

Instead, an unsportsmanlike penalty moved the ball out near midfield, and the Lions drive was kept alive. Later, a hands to the face penalty again chipped in, and Penn State was down to the 11 yard line. A couple plays later, Theo Johnson caught a hard pass to make it 24-15, and a two-point attempt on perhaps the weirdest formation ever fell incomplete.

Michigan recovered the onside kick, and proceeded to run out the clock, sealing the win. Ultimately, the defense came to play yet again, but was let down by the offense yet again. In both of their big tests this season, the Lions came up short, leading many fans to feel frustrated. While the refs did no favors for Penn State, the reality is the defense played well enough to keep the team in the game. The ineffectiveness of the offense once again doomed the Lions, who now have a home game against a resurgent Rutgers squad to try to right the ship.