(Saturday, October 18th)
Final Score: (3) Penn State 46, Michigan 17
University Park, PA (Sports Network) - Evan Royster ran for 174 yards and a touchdown, as third-ranked Penn State overcame a poor first half to defeat Michigan, 46-17, for the Nittany Lions' first win over the Wolverines in their last 10 tries.
The win sets up a showdown for the Big Ten conference lead between Penn State and Ohio State next Saturday at The Horseshoe, after the Buckeyes dispatched Michigan State, 45-7, earlier Saturday. Both teams head into the game as the lone undefeated teams in conference play, but the Lions have not won in Columbus since joining the Big Ten in 1993.
Daryll Clark completed 18-of-31 passes for 171 yards and a score, while running for two more touchdowns for Penn State (8-0, 4-0 Big Ten), which has won its first eight games for the first time since 1999. Deon Butler caught eight throws for 105 yards, and Stephfon Green and Jordan Norwood each found the end zone once.
"You started to wonder there early, the first snap goes over (Clark's) head and you start the 'boy, here we go again' type attitude," said Penn State assistant coach Tom Bradley, "but the players did a great job and made the appropriate adjustments. (Michigan) got us in a couple things early and then everybody kind of firmed up and started to do the things that we thought we'd be able to do."
Brandon Minor ran for 117 yards and two scores on 23 carries for Michigan (2-5, 1-2), which is in danger of having its first losing season since 1967. Steven Threet went 9-of-13 passing for 84 yards but was pulled in favor of Nick Sheridan, who connected on only 3-of-9 throws, as the Wolverines couldn't manage to score a point in the second half.
"We just weren't connecting on all cylinders tonight. We just had letdowns in certain areas," Minor said. "We're just going to have to correct that as soon as possible."
Down by three going into halftime, the Lions forced a Michigan punt on their opening drive of the second half and started with the ball on their own 14. The set stalled at the Wolverines' 25, and Kevin Kelly made a 42-yard field goal to tie the game at 17 with 6:46 left in the third.
After the ensuing kickoff, Michigan put Sheridan in at quarterback, replacing Threet. A holding penalty on first down put the Wolverines on the eight, and on 3rd-and-20 Sheridan was sacked in the end zone by Jared Odrick, giving Penn State a 19-17 lead on the safety.
The Lions got the ball at the 50 after the free kick went out of bounds. The offense scored in just four plays, as Clark's quarterback sneak from one-yard out put the team up by nine with 3:04 remaining in the quarter.
Kelly booted a 32-yard field goal on the first play of the fourth quarter after a blocked punt to increase the advantage to 29-17.
The Lions put the game away after a fumble recovery on Michigan's 20. After Norwood went down to the one-yard line on a 15-yard reception on 3rd-and-7, Clark took it in himself two plays later with 12:19 to play. Kelly hit a 20- yard field goal to go up 39-17 with 5:20 to go.
"It means a lot for the seniors and the guys," Butler said about finally beating Michigan. "This was our last go-around and you don't want to be a guy that goes through this program and does not beat Michigan. It was actually sweet to beat a team like this for our homecoming. It's big-time."
With time winding down, Green had a dazzling 80-yard touchdown reception to account for the final margin.
"I didn't expect to get that. I didn't even expect to go all the way," Green said. "I was just trying to pick up the first down to keep the clock moving. It was just a plus that we got the blocks set up and a plus that we got in the end zone."
A failed shotgun snap resulting in a 16-yard loss forced Penn State into an opening three-and-out, and Michigan got the ball on their own 14. Minor ran for 20 yards on the second play of the drive, and Threet found Kevin Koger for 16 yards to the Lions' 38.
On fourth-and-1 from the 29, Minor was able to elude two tacklers and gain the first down. Five plays later, Minor scampered five yards for the touchdown and a 7-0 lead with 6:51 to go in the quarter.
After a Clark fumble gave the ball right back to the Wolverines on the following set, K.C. Lopata added a 27-yard field goal for a 10-0 advantage.
"We definitely did face some adversity," Norwood said of the team facing its largest deficit of the season. "Most of it was self-inflicted, I think. That is something that we need. Fortunately it worked out and we came back and played well in the second half."
Chaz Powell returned the ensuing kickoff to the Lions' 48, and two plays later Royster put Penn State on the board with a 44-yard touchdown run with 2:57 left in the frame.
Threet kept Michigan's suddenly potent offense going, completing passes of 21 and 28 yards to get down to Penn State's 26. On 3rd-and-3, Threet converted with a 14-yard rush down to the five. Minor punched it in three plays later on a one-yard score with about 13 minutes to go in the half.
With two minutes left until halftime, Penn State got the ball at their own 41. Clark found Butler for a 17 yard gain, and Royster had rushes of 10 and 14 yards down to the Wolverines' 19. Clark hit Norwood for a three-yard touchdown completion on 3rd-and-goal, cutting the deficit to three going into the break.
Despite the loss, Michigan still leads the all-time series between the schools, 10-4...The attendance was 110,017, the largest at any college football game for any school so far this season...Michigan went 4-6 in 1967 under Bump Elliot. The last time the school did not appear in a bowl game was 1974...The Wolverines matched a season-high with 17 first-half points...Penn State's victory gives coach Joe Paterno 380 for his career, the most in FBS history...Before this win, the last time the Nittany Lions beat Michigan was in 1996...Royster's 174 yards is the most by a Penn State running back since Larry Johnson ran for 279 against Michigan State in 2002. It was also Royster's fifth career 100-yard game...Butler had his fourth career 100-yard game...Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez said Threet was pulled in the second half because of some recurring pain in his throwing elbow...Kelly set the record for most career points scored in the Big Ten, finishing the game with 14 points to give him 376 total points in his three-plus years at Penn State. The old record was 367, shared by Minnesota's Dan Nystrom and Iowa's Nate Kaeding.
10/18 21:58:46 ET