Penn Statement: What Does It All Mean? Penn State 42, Michigan 13
Penn State hasn’t played a great team? Yes, and then it destroyed Michigan.
Really, Penn State? You’re supposed to be the No. 2 team in the country when your best win was over Iowa? Or Northwestern? Or maybe even Akron?
All of that’s gone now with a whitewashing of a Michigan team that might have been limited offensively, but was dominant on the defensive side.
No. 1 in the nation in pass efficiency defense, sixth against the run, and No. 1 overall in the nation in total defense.
This was the best statistical defense in the country, and with one 69-yard Saquon Barkley touchdown run, all of that went bye-bye.
224 rushing yards. 282 passing yards. 25 first downs, and 4-of-7 third down tries. This was total and complete domination of a fantastic defense full of talent and pride.
No, Saquon Barkley didn’t win the Hesiman yet, but he became the leader in the race – for now. Baker Mayfield has done more, and Bryce Love’s statistics are still unreal, but in the team’s biggest game of the season so far – and again, against the No. 1 defense in the country – he put his stamp on the game with 108 yards and two scores, and three catches for 53 yards and a touchdown. Fine, so Michigan bottled him up after that big early run – but it was too late.
With Michigan paying attention to Barkley, Trace McSorley was absolutely brilliant completing 17-of-26 passes for 282 yards and a score with a pick, and running 11 times for 76 yards and three touchdowns. He made the plays needed to break Michigan’s heart time and again.
But while Barkley and McSorley will get all the credit, give a little love to the lines. The Penn State lines destroyed the Wolverines, allowing just 103 rushing yards, and battering away for the hard yards needed on the offensive side. Penn State outphysicaled the supposedly more physical team.
This wasn’t John O’Korn’s fault in any way. He was more than fine, completing 16-of-28 passes for 166 yards, and ran for a few decent plays. He needed the defense to come up big, and it really, really didn’t.
So now what for Michigan? Another year, another campaign without Big Ten title or even a sniff of the national championship. The Wolverines will obviously go bowling, but with Wisconsin and Ohio State left to play, being better than 8-4 – and playing spoiler – is the lonely goal now.
So now what for Penn State? Next.
This was good, but the Ohio State game is the one that really matters. The Nittany Lions can probably lose to Michigan State in a few weeks and be fine, but they can’t lose in Columbus.
This was obviously an amazing and impressive step, but lose to the Buckeyes, and then they might have to try to 2016 Ohio State this and get into the College Football Playoff at 11-1.