If you watched this game, you’re probably as frustrated as I am. The Michigan football team dropped its first game of the year to Penn State in four overtimes 43-40. Michigan (5-1, 1-1 B1G) suffered from early turnovers and conservative play-calling late in the loss to Penn State (4-2, 1-1).
The first half was all Penn State. Devin Gardner struggled again as he turned the ball over three times. Those turnovers put the Michigan defense in a bad spot multiple times. Otherwise, the defense played pretty well given the circumstances.
The only real Michigan highlight from the first half was a 59 yard touchdown pass from Gardner to tight end converted to wide receiver Devin Funchess. Brendan Gibbons added a late field goal as well.
Penn State freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg put the Nittany Lions up 21-10 at half thanks to his 3 passing touchdowns.
Michigan came out with a bang in the second half as Frank Clark recovered a fumble and returned it 24 yards for a touchdown. Both teams traded field goals before Gardner found Jeremy Gallon for a 16 yard touchdown pass. Michigan held the advantage at 27-24 heading into the final quarter.
Gardner found Funchess again early in the fourth quarter for a 37 yard touchdown. Up by 10, Michigan allowed a field goal and then a Hackenberg 1 yard run for a touchdown to tie the game at 34 with under a minute in regulation.
Bring on overtime. Lots of overtime.
This is where things got interesting.
In the first overtime, neither team scored as both kickers missed field goals. Get used to this.
In the second overtime, Gibbons and Penn State’s Sam Ficken both made field goals.
After a Penn State turnover in the third overtime, things looked good for the Wolverines. Gibbons had other plans as he missed his third field goal of the game.
Michigan took the lead in the fourth overtime on a Gibbons field goal, but Penn State scored on a 2 yard run by Bill Belton to seal the victory for the Nittany Lions.
What was one of the worst football games I’ve seen in a long time, had finally ended.
Devin Gardner finished the game completing 15 of 28 passes for 240 yards and 3 touchdowns. He also rushed for 121 yards on 24 carries. Other than Gardner, the Michigan offense struggled. Fitz Toussaint carried the ball 27 times. He gained 27 yards. Even I can do that math and figure out that’s 1 yard per carry. Absolutely unacceptable for a Michigan football team.
That brings me to the play-calling. Al Borges was insistent on running the same run play that would go for very little yardage time and time again. Late in the game and in overtime, the play-calling was extremely conservative and was one of the reasons why Michigan lost this game. They played scared and not to lose. That ended up costing them this game. I could go on and on about this, but just know that the coaching staff deserves some heat after this game.
Funchess had another big day as he caught 4 balls for 112 yards and 2 scores. Gallon had 7 catches for 95 yards and a touchdown.
For Penn State, Hackenberg was 23 of 44 for 304 yards, 3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. Bill Belton gained 86 yards on his 27 carries and the game-winning touchdown. Standout wide receiver Allen Robinson was held in check for most of the game thanks to Blake Countess. However, some big catches late in the game helped him finish with 84 yards. Brandon Felder hauled in 6 passes for 96 yards and 2 scores.
Michigan’s defense kept them in the game. Penn State scored 14 first half points off of turnovers. Highlights from the defense included Clark’s fumble recovery for a touchdown, interceptions from Jarrod Wilson and Raymon Taylor and Jake Ryan’s return.
I predicted a 35-14 Michigan win in our staff picks and I couldn’t have been more wrong.
I have none.
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