#PSUvsMICH: The High Five

It was a tale of two halves and four overtimes for the Nittany Lions in their Homecoming victory against an undefeated Michigan.

Penn State had some stratospheric highs and subterranean lows in this game. But in the end, the Nittany Lions managed to knock off undefeated Michgian in front of a whiteout crowd. Given the dramatically different halves, we're going to split our highs and lows by half.


Serve and Protect: In the first half the offensive line for Penn State did a splendid job protecting Christian Hackenberg, allowing for things to develop in the pass game. They gave him time and protection to get into a groove nd get comfortable in his first primetime game.

Swinging Big: The Nittany Lion defense came out landing body blows on Michgian's offense, dazing Devin Gardner early on and grabbing two key turnovers for short-yard touchdowns.

Jump Out: Penn State's early 21-10 lead heading into halftime was big, and something you'd think would have given them momentum in the second half...you'd think.

Crowd Control: The Nittany Nation showed up in this game and was a big factor. In fact, as Michigan's left tackle was on the sideline with an injury they had to take him inside to the locker room since the U-M staff could not communicate with him on the sideline due to the noise. Hats off to the fans for coming early and staying late.

Keepin' Up: DaQuan Jones came up big in this game consistently disrupting the Michgian pocket. If not for Devin Gardner's magic/luck he would have had Michigan reeling to put together drives. Shout outs to the rest of the defensive front seven, particularly Deion Barnes, C.J. Olaniyan and Glenn Carson.


Express Delivery: The secondary for PSU allowed Funchess to get behind them too often, which burned them early on for a 59-yard touchdown and almost resulted in a second score. They contained Funchess to four catches, but for 112 yards and two TDs.

Gamblin' Man: O'Brien gambling on fourth down in PSU territory in the first quarter was an unnecessary early risk. I get wanting to set a tone, and granted, Michigan didn't get any points from it, but it was a dangerous gamble that had low probability.

Clock Management: I said this last week as well, but Christian Hackenberg still waited too long at times to make his decisions. He was grabbed down on several occasions because of this. Throw. It. Away. But you gotta love the guys heart and confidence.

Push It: Whereas the offensive line protected Hackenberg well, it could not get any early push on the interior of Michigan's defensive line.


No Quit: Despite the missteps and bumbles into the second half for PSU, this squad never quit. This team has a lot of heart and fought back to force overtime...again...and again.

Grinding Gears: The PSU defensive line made heralded running backs Fitzgerald Toussaint and Derrick Green look like a pair of Pop Warner runners, allowing them to gain 28 yards on 30 carries. These two should chip in to buy Gardner his ice packs for having the carry the running game on his back.

Mr. Robinson: He may have not his typical flashy numbers, but when the chips were down Allen Robinson made the clutch catch of the game.

Gunslinger: Jesse James had a quickdrw on the ball tonight, grabbing six for 67 yards and a touchdown.


Flat Play: If there was something PSU didn't want to happen it was letting Michigan get right back into the game with a quick turnover, but that is what Zach Zwinak's fumble did. Toss in Hackenberg's interception on the next drive and it was as if PSU didn't realize they had a second half to play. What the heck happened in the locker room at the half for the taem to come out emotionless and flat with an 11-point lead?

Broken Line: Whereas the offensive line protected Hackenberg in the first, they seemed to forget he was back there allowing for the Wolverines to get to him regularly in the second, even with three-man rushes. Some of this was on Hackenberg holding onto the ball to long, but the line had some key lapses.

Grounded: Zach Zwinak has shown a ton of heart as an old school short-yardage back, but he's not a feature back and his inopportune fumbles confirm this. The coaches should not be using him in this manner. It's unfortunate it took a critical fumble for them to shift gears to Bill Belton, but they need to keep this lineup and use ZZ in short-yardage, red zone situations.

Playing to Tie: With Michigan up 27-24 Penn State put together a nice drive, but it seemed that the staff was content to play for the tie with four free downs, which they didn't even get with Sam Ficken's wide left boot.

Flag Day: Adrin Amos killed Penn State with a series of three key pass interference calls. Inexplicable.

Spy vs. Spy: Why the PSU staff refused to spy Gardner (basically their one offensive weapon) is beyond me.

Overturned: Amazing how many key calls got bumbled by this officiating crew. Thank Joe Paterno the conference and country has instant replay.


Fight On State: Getting it to four overtimes showed fight and heart. Enough said.

Short, Wide, Blocked: Watching Michigan's kicker miss time and again reminded me of a Bobby Bowden team.

Grip It: PSU dodged a canon ball, but fumbling the handoff was a huge mistake for an otherwise sure-handed Robinson.

All Guts: Bill O'Brien going for it on fourth down in overtime had reflections of a young Joe Paterno doing the same to win the 1969 Orange Bowl.


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