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Gameday Observations: Michigan

At long last, Penn State football finally won a game. For the first time in 335 days, the Nittany Lions made their way into the win column and weren’t the laughing stock of the Big Ten.

Penn State’s 27-17 win over Michigan was generally fun all around. Even then, you might’ve missed a few amusing things outside the Xs and Os.

Here are a few amusing things we noticed from the couch, computer, and (virtual) tailgate lots.

Poor Officiating Rears Its Ugly Head…Again

As Penn State fans probably know all too well, Big Ten officiating is often questionable at best. After all, we’re still mad about that “bullshit” game-ending call to give Indiana a season-opening overtime win over Penn State back in October.

This week, officials seemingly hosed the Nittany Lions’ defense of a clutch turnover. Referees deemed Shaka Toney illegally batted a ball away from the sideline to keep it in play, ideally leading to a fumble recovery. Instead, the penalty gave Michigan a first down to keep its drive moving along.

Terry McAulay, the NFL rules analyst you’ve probably heard from every Sunday night, felt the officials’ call was “absolutely incorrect,” noting Toney’s horizontal bat isn’t a foul. For it to be a penalty, he’d have needed to bat the ball forward.

Even then, we still have no idea what an illegal bat is.

Penn State Makes History…Again!

Last week, Penn State football etched itself into the history books by becoming the first team in program history to start a season 0-5. It was also the first team to begin the season ranked in the top 10 and lose its first five games.

This time, though, the Nittany Lions’ accomplishments were far more cheerful.

With the victory over Michigan, Penn State picked up its first win in the Big House since 2009. The Nittany Lions previously lost three straight games in Ann Arbor, including a 42-7 blowout in 2018 and a crushing 49-10 defeat in 2016.

Penn State also made headlines by starting a remarkably young lineup against the Wolverines. For the first time in program history, the Nittany Lions started true freshmen at wide receiver (Parker Washington), running back (Keyvone Lee), and tight end (Theo Johnson) in one game.

The trio went on to have a remarkably productive day, too. Lee led the way with 134 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries, while Washington posted nine receptions for 93 yards. Johnson didn’t record any statistics but should find increased playing time given Pat Freiermuth’s absence.

The Big House Didn’t Feel So Big

Widely known as the largest stadium in the country, the Big House felt rather small without a crowd Saturday. In fact, state regulations barred any spectators — including parents — from attending the game.

According to Michigan beat writer Zach Shaw, the only person in the stands Saturday afternoon was a lone event staffer. Even before kickoff, an empty Michigan Stadium is quite an eerie sight.

Harbaugh Struggles With His Mask

Jim Harbaugh has never been one to perfectly pull of ‘fits, especially his iconic khaki pants. But this week, the Michigan coach just couldn’t figure out how to wear his face mask. Well, without looking like a doofus, that is.

Harbaugh fiddled with his mask on the sideline all game long and generally struggled to keep his sideline mic under (or over?) it. Struggling to follow public health guidelines is yet another reason why Michigan sucks.

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About the Author

Matt DiSanto

Matt is a junior majoring in journalism and Onward State's managing editor. He's a huge Philadelphia sports fan, fantasy football aficionado, and washed-up drummer hailing from Collegeville, Pa. The quickest way to his heart is Margherita pizza. He loves Seinfeld, is really into video games, and would wipe the floor with you in Halo. Follow him on Twitter @mattdisanto_ for bad sports takes or email him at [email protected]

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