For the second straight year the Wolverines pounced on a favored Penn State football team. For the second straight year the Nittany Lions shrugged it off before cruising to an easy victory. Michigan dropped a 35-10 decision to the visiting Nittany Lions last night, and, with a trip to Illinois on the horizon, marked improvements must be made to snap the teams three game Big 10 losing streak.
Graham just may have been the lone bright spot on the Michigan football team in the 35-10 loss to Penn State yesterday afternoon. Despite all the constant attention that comes with being one of the nations premiere pass rushers, Graham was still a disruptive force along the defensive line. While he notched only half a sack, U-M's senior defensive end did record 3.5 tackles for a loss, plus added a blocked punt to give the Wolverines hope of a comeback, albeit a short lived hope.
At the start of the game, it was thought that Michigan maintaining an edge in field position battle would have paid significant divide ends on the scoreboard. The four Michigan turnovers made that near impossible for Michigan to do, but Zoltan Mesko did provide Michigan with as much a boost in field position as possible. Despite the fact that Penn State entered the game second in the conference in net punting, this was an area dominated by the Wolverines. Mesko averaged 44.9 yards per punt.
Speculation on the offensive line was prevalent before the start of the season. With David Molk out of the lineup with a bad foot, those questions just get worse. The Penn State defensive front devoured Michigan's line with five sacks. It also helped forced four Michigan turnovers. When the Wolverines weren't turning the ball over, Tate, and Denard, were running for their lives. Penn State's defensive front had a lot to say in Michigan's sub 50% passing day.
For the second Big 10 game in a row, Michigan's lack of experience and athleticism up the middle of the field was exploited. Iowa attacked the Wolverines safeties with tight end passes deep down the center of the field. Penn State used the same strategy, and it lead to Quarles' 60-yard touchdown reception.
On Penn State's other three touchdown passes, the Nittany Lions attacked out of the slot position. Graham Zug doubled his career touchdown tally by exploiting mismatches in the middle of the field, then beat the Wolverines converted safety on flag routes to the corner of the end zone.
In Michigan's last two losses, the Maize and Blue turned the football over nine times. You won't win football games in the Big 10 with an average of 4.5 turnovers per game. After a trip to Illinois this weekend, it won't get much easier. The Wolverines still host Ohio State and Purdue at home, plus trip to Madison, Wis., in just a few short weeks. If Michigan doesn't elminate the turnovers in each of these upcoming games, a record of 5-7 may be in the cards...
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