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No. 10 Penn State Football Falls 24-15 To No. 3 Michigan

No. 10 Penn State football (8-2, 5-2 Big Ten) lost to No. 3 Michigan (10-0, 7-0 Big Ten) Saturday afternoon at Beaver Stadium.

Without suspended head coach Jim Harbaugh, offensive coordinator Sherrone Moore served as Michigan’s head coach. Despite that, the Wolverines ground the Nittany Lions down to hand them their second loss of the season.

However, it looked at the start as if Penn State’s defense might lead the way to a victory in front of Beaver Stadium’s raucous crowd, as it forced two punts to begin the game. After the Nittany Lions took a 3-0 lead, though, things went badly for them as Michigan scored back-to-back rushing touchdowns.

Allar, who rushed for a touchdown to end the first half, fumbled on the first drive of the second half. The Wolverines expanded their lead with a field goal following that play. Both teams scored once again in the half, as Michigan won 24-15.

How It Happened

Penn State won the coin toss and deferred to the second half. Onto the field trotted the Michigan offense under a deafening Beaver Stadium crowd. Blake Corum received the opening handoff for no gain. Then, J.J. McCarthy found AJ Barner for a 12-yard completion. Another carry from Corum was good for four yards, but then, a false start penalty set the Wolverines back for 2nd-and-11. A three-yard gain brought up 3rd-and-8, and then, McCarthy was swallowed up by Dani Dennis-Sutton for a 10-yard loss to end the drive.

Like Corum, Nick Singleton rushed for no gain to open Penn State’s inaugural drive. Drew Allar’s next two pass attempts were incomplete, and the Nittany Lions punted the ball.

Corum fumbled to open the drive, but the Wolverines recovered the ball. McCarthy completed a seven-yard pass to Colton Loveland, which brought up 3rd-and-3. He dropped back under pressure from Chop Robinson, and his pass was batted down by Abdul Carter. Michigan punted for the second time in a row.

Allar found Tyler Warren for a 19-yard gain, who bodied his way to midfield. Two gains by Singleton gave the Nittany Lions another first down, and a pass interference call against Will Johnson moved Penn State to Michigan’s 30-yard line. The Nittany Lions got all the way to the 13-yard line two plays later, and then found themselves knocking on the door at the four. Allar tush-pushed his way into 1st-and-goal at the three two plays later. However, the drive stalled and Alex Felkins’ 21-yard field goal attempt was good, giving Penn State a 3-0 lead with 2:17 left in the opening quarter.

McCarthy found Cornelius Johnson, who was wide open for a 13-yard gain. On 3rd-and-long two plays later, he scrambled through a wide-open hole for 13 yards to end the first quarter. Michigan’s momentum continued, as Donovan Edwards broke loose for a 22-yard gain all the way to Penn State’s 27-yard line. The Wolverines faced 3rd-and-8 two plays later, but McCarthy found Semaj Morgan for a 19-yard gain. Then, on 1st-and-goal, Corum ran it in for a touchdown to take a 7-3 lead with 11:56 left in the second quarter.

Kaytron Allen danced around the Wolverines for a nine-yard gain to open the drive. However, two negative-yardage plays forced the Nittany Lions to punt.

McCarthy fired a pass to Johnson, who was again wide open for an 11-yard completion. Then, Corum broke loose for a massive 44-yard gain, bringing it to Penn State’s 21-yard line. The Wolverines, however, found themselves at 3rd-and-11 two plays later. But then, Edwards rushed 22 yards into the end zone for another Michigan touchdown, making it 14-3 with 6:07 left in the second quarter.

Allen responded in fashion with a massive 34-yard gain to Michigan’s 41-yard line. The drive looked like it was stalling but on 4th-and-6, Allar found Kaden Saunders for a 13-yard completion to keep it going. The Nittany Lions found themselves at 4th-and-1 soon after, and then, Allen took the snap and passed it to Allar for a four-yard gain. Then, Allar pounced for an 11-yard rush into the end zone to cut Michigan’s lead to 14-9 with 29 seconds left in the half, as the two-point conversion attempt didn’t work out.

Singleton had a five-yard rush to begin the second half. He was stuffed on the next play, but Allar scrambled eight yards for a first down. Two gains by Singleton brought up 3rd-and-2, but then, Michigan recovered Allar’s fumble while attempting to rush for a first down.

The Wolverines took over at Penn State’s 49-yard line. Runs by Corum and McCarthy brought up 3rd-and-2, and the former picked up the first down. Michigan found itself facing 4th-and-1 three plays later, but McCarthy picked up nine yards to extend the drive. He picked up another nine yards two plays later, bringing up 1st-and-goal. Edwards was forced out of bounds at the four-yard line on 3rd-and-goal, and James Turner’s field goal attempt was successful, giving Michigan a 17-9 lead with 3:36 left in the third quarter.

After two Allen rushes, Allar found Warren for a six-yard pass on 3rd-and-3. An incompletion followed by passes to Theo Johnson and KeAndre Lambert-Smith weren’t enough for another first down, and the Nittany Lions punted to complete another scoreless third quarter for Michigan.

Riley Thompson’s punt put the ball at Michigan’s three-yard line. With the student section right behind the line of scrimmage, Penn State’s defense forced a much-needed three-and-out.

After Penn State went three-and-out, Michigan regained possession. The Wolverines got the ball to midfield, but the drive quickly stalled as the crowd reached a crescendo.

Penn State began the drive at its own 12-yard line. The Michigan defense left no room for the offense, as another three-and-out was forced.

The lack of offense continued, as Michigan went three-and-out again. The Wolverines punted to Penn State’s 26-yard line.

Singleton managed a four-yard gain, the only one of the drive. Allar threw three consecutive incompletions, including on 4th-and-6 to give Michigan the ball at the 30-yard line. On the first play of the drive, Corum rushed into the end zone to take a 24-9 lead with 4:15 to go in the fourth quarter.

Despite having only four minutes left in the game, Penn State rushed four times in the nine-play drive that resulted in Allar connecting with Johnson for a touchdown. The two-point conversion was unsuccessful, making the score 24-15, which ultimately did it to end the game.


  • Michigan being without Harbaugh should’ve made pulling off an upset less difficult for Penn State. Instead, the Nittany Lions were slowly beaten by the Wolverines, who had momentum and appeared confident throughout most of the game. A prime opportunity at home was wasted, and the Nittany Lions will once again settle for being the third-best program in the Big Ten.
  • Once again, James Franklin proved he can’t get it done on a consistent basis against top-10 teams, as he is now 3-17 against them. The Nittany Lions fell to now-No. 1 Ohio State earlier in the season, and now, Michigan. His team was considered a series contender for the College Football Playoff, but instead, history repeated itself.
  • Penn State’s rushing defense was uncharacteristically bad, as the group that was statistically elite in that category allowed 231 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns. Michigan slowly but surely wore the defense down by doing this, which is why it won.
  • Allar had a weak showing. His 45% completion rate and 70 passing yards left more to be desired in such a big game.

What’s Next

Penn State faces Rutgers at noon on Saturday, November 18, at Beaver Stadium. The game will air on FOX or FS1 and will be Penn State’s final home game of the season.

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About the Author

Nolan Wick

Nolan is a third-year journalism major from Silver Spring, Maryland, which means he's an avid fan of all D.C. sports teams. If Nolan isn't writing about or watching sports, you can probably find him listening to all sorts of music or traveling. To keep up with Nolan, you can follow him on Twitter @nolan_wick or email him at [email protected].

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