Michigan still burns over Penn State attempt to run up score

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

Ann Arbor — Maybe you don’t remember the end of Michigan’s 29-point loss at Penn State last season.

"We still remember, fourth quarter, five seconds left in the game, they have their players in, they ran a last play," says Michigan defensive lineman Kwity Paye of last year's encounter against Penn State.

The Michigan players do, especially those on defense. Defensive coordinator Don Brown hasn’t let them forget and showed them a clip as a reminder last week during the Wolverines’ bye.

Fifth-ranked Michigan, unbeaten in the Big Ten and atop the East Division standings, plays No. 14 Penn State on Saturday at Michigan Stadium. The Wolverines have considerable motivation, not only to keep their winning streak alive as they pursue a spot in the Big Ten championship, but also the 42-13 loss to the Nittany Lions.

And, specifically, the end of that game. With 3:19 left in a blowout, Penn State started its final possession at the Michigan 47-yard line. The Nittany Lions ran seven run plays and also benefited from a Michigan offside penalty. They reached the UM 6-yard line and ran Miles Sanders for a chance to score, but he was tackled for a 4-yard loss.

“We still remember, fourth quarter, five seconds left in the game, they had their players in, they ran a last play,” Michigan defensive tackle Kwity Paye said Tuesday night. “So we put that in our back pocket and we just remember that every single day as we’re working that they disrespected us. So, we’ve got to come out and show them who we were this year.”

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Brown said last week he has thought about that game every day since the loss. Michigan allowed 506 yards of offense, including 224 rushing. Paye said the players think about how the Nittany Lions tried to score at the end of the game more than the 29-point loss or the 508 yards allowed.

“Just cause I don’t know what they were trying to pull or what message they were trying to send,” Paye said. “We’re just remembering that every single day, every single practice.

“Coach Brown had pulled up the play and we saw the guys on the sideline smiling and high-fiving each other. So we take that to heart.”

Fifth-year defensive end Chase Winovich said Monday the end of that game has not been brushed off.

“It lingers with us every day,” he said. “It lingered with us in winter conditioning. Obviously, we don’t like what they tried to do at the end of the game, trying to score the touchdown. Hey, they’ve got to do what to do. It’s football, so we’re not going to whine about it. We’re just going to focus on what we can control and keep getting better every week.”

Penn State had lost badly at Michigan, 49-10, in 2016 and the Nittany Lions were motivated by that as the prepared to face Michigan last season.

Safety Josh Metellus said he defense has a chip on its shoulder because of the way they lost to Penn State a year ago.

“It was embarrassing, there’s no other way around it,” Metellus said. “We shouldn’t have lost like that. We know we’re better than that.”

Metellus has hung onto that Penn State finish, as well.

“I find that as disrespectful,” he said “It was two seconds left on the clock and they tried to run the ball to score even more. I take that personally. This game is real personal.

“We brought it up. It’s not something we stress on. It is what it is. You can’t do nothing about it now. All we can do Saturday is go out and make a statement.”

Jon Runyan, Michigan’s left tackle, said he doesn’t think that much about the final play, but acknowledges there’s something about Penn State that has the team especially motivated this week.

“Obviously there’s some bad blood between us,” Runyan said Tuesday night. “We beat them the two previous years before we went into their place. They had one of the best players in the country (running back Saquon Barkley). We weren’t able to do much on offense, unfortunately.  This year we’re moving on and hopefully it will be a different outcome for us.”


Twitter: @chengelis