STATE COLLEGE, PA. -- With a little help, Michigan would have its sights set on playing for an opportunity to play in the Big Ten Championship game next Saturday But first, U-M needed to take care of business against Penn State at State College Saturday afternoon.
And taking care of business is exactly what it did. Finishing the 2015 season with a perfect Big Ten road record and defeating the Nittany Lions 28-16.
PSU (7-4, 4-3 Big Ten) quarterback Christian Hackenberg gave the Wolverines (9-2, 5-1 Big Ten) all it could handle late into the game.
The Wolverines took a 21-10 lead into halftime and had the ball to start the second half. However, Penn State caused a strip fumble recovered by linebacker Brandon Bell. The Wolverines would surrender a 24-yard field goal due in part to a 38-yard strike by Hackenberg to Chris Godwin who dragged defenders all the way down to the goalline.
After a failed drive by the Wolverines, Penn State would later take the ball all the way down to the one only to be stopped by the goal line defense of U-M. A short field goal was blocked and U-M and somehow found its way over the crossbar to draw the score to 21-16.
Needing an answer and some offensive momentum in the worst way, the Wolverines answered with a 55-yard kick return by defensive back Jourdan Lewis who stumbled and rumbled his way to excellent field position for U-M. A 20 yard rush by receiver Jehu Chesson and a short run by Jabrill Peppers set up the one-yard touchdown rush by De'Veon Smith to essentially put the game away for the Wolverines.
“A lot of big plays on the sideline to keep drive alive,” Harbaugh said. “That was a good part of the offense today. I think we were effective. In off coverage we were able to hit some of those quick passes, wide receiver type of screens. We blocked, and got good yardage off of those. In press coverage, we were able to hit the fade route a few times. That was good fastball-curveball for us today.”
Bad penalties once again plagued the Wolverines, surrendering 13 penalties for a mouth-opening 113 yards. Giving PSU multiple stretches of new life into drives by giving up first downs.
U-M quarterback Jake Rudock finished the day with 256 yards passing with two touchdowns and one interception. Rudock is the first Wolverine in school history to throw for over 250 yards in three consecutive games.
The Wolverines will face off against rivals Ohio State at Michigan Stadium November 28.
"Yeah, you move on with humble hearts,” Harbaugh said when asked aboutpreparing for Ohio State. “… We’re right where we want to be. We’re playing for the championship."