WHAT WENT RIGHT
A week after allowing a season-high 307 rushing yards to Indiana in the Wolverines' first game without nose tackle Ryan Glasgow (out for the rest of the season, pectoral injury), the defensive linemen said they had something to prove. Michigan held Penn State to 207 total yards, including 70 rushing, six in the second half, in the 28-16 road win.
"Maybe our guys took it as a challenge that somebody had to step up and grab that share of glory that's there to be had," Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said. "From my perspective today, there were four five guys grabbing at it. It's OK to chase glory."
Penn State three times drove deep into Michigan territory and each time was held to a field goal. Michigan had four sacks of quarterback Christian Hackenberg, including two by Taco Charlton.
Jake Rudock threw for 256 yards, becoming the first Michigan quarterback to throw for 250 yards or more in three consecutive games. He had 440 passing against Indiana and 337 against Rutgers.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Harbaugh praised the Wolverines' offensive line, which allowed only two sacks against Penn State, rated No. 1 nationally in sacks. But the running game hasn't been there for the Wolverines, and it was lacking again in the victory at Penn State.
They had 87 yards rushing, including 39 from lead back De'Veon Smith on 13 carries. Smith did leap over the pile for a 1-yard touchdown, his sixth rushing score of the season. Rudock has thrown for 1,033 yards the last three games, an average of 344.3 per game, but the lack of a consistent run game can't be glossed over as the Wolverines head into their final regular-season game against Ohio State.
A receiver and safety were the next two players in the box score after Smith. Receiver Jehu Chesson had a 20-yard gain and safety Jabrill Peppers had five carries for 19 yards. Tailback Ty Isaac made the trip after dealing with an "internal matter" as Harbaugh has described, but didn't have a carry, and Derrick Green missed his second game — Harbaugh said a week ago Green was "working through" something from the Rutgers game. Drake Johnson didn't have a carry against Penn State.
Michigan is ranked 12th in the Big Ten in penalties with 76 for 676 yards this season. In the Wolverines' last two games at Indiana and at Penn State, they were penalized 13 times each game. Against Penn State, they were called for 13 penalties that accounted for 117 yards, while the Nittany Lions were penalized three times for 30 yards. Of Penn State's 14 first downs, six came on penalties by Michigan.
"Yeah, it was pretty lopsided," Harbaugh said. "Be anxious to look at them and see what it was."
In the last two games, Michigan has been called for 26 penalties for 189 yards. Rudock appeared to take a high hit from Penn State's Anthony Zettel, but the targeting call was reversed for a 15-yard roughing penalty.
"I don't know the rules of targeting, and I don't think I'll understand them after this year," Rudock said. "Whatever they call, I'm sure they're the ones who read the rulebook and know all that stuff. You're a quarterback, you're going to get hit in the head. They're trying to hit you hard. There's like a sick, sadistic thing about seeing a quarterback and wanting to hit him on defense. That's how our defense is, too."
MOST TELLING QUOTES
Harbaugh, asked after the game about the theory that teams can "lay an egg" during the season: "The egg analogy doesn't resonate with me. I don't really like comparing humans to chickens or any other type of animal."
Tight end Jake Butt on how animated Harbaugh can be on the sideline: "He's just an animated guy really in everything he does. He's a leader, he's our head coach and everyone on the team would follow him no matter what."
Harbaugh on Jourdan Lewis' 55-yard kickoff return that gave the Wolverines the ball at the Penn State 40 setting up their final score: "Jourdan was in the huddle and he looked over at me and said, 'I'm going to break their back right here,' and I said, 'Go ahead, have at it.' It was a phenomenal return. He was competing like a maniac throughout that return, just refusing to go down."
Ohio State, coming off a stunning 17-14 loss to Michigan State, visits Ann Arbor for the regular-season finale on Saturday. The Buckeyes (10-1, 6-1 Big Ten) had won 30 straight Big Ten regular-season games and had a 23-game winning streak before Michael Geiger's 41-yard field goal on the final play put Michigan State in the Big Ten East Division driver's seat.
Ohio State has had its way in recent years with Michigan and has won 10 of the last 11. Michigan's last victory came in 2011. The last time the two teams met in Ann Arbor in 2013, Michigan failed on a two-point conversion that would have won the game, but fell, 42-41.