#PSUvsMICH: Game Breakdown

The good, the bad and the ugly from Penn State's really long win over the Wolverines at Beaver Stadium Saturday evening.

Penn State may have been knocked to the canvas in a 44-24 loss at Indiana a week ago. But the Nittany Lions picked themselves up, dusted themselves off and traded haymakers with No. 18 Michigan for four hours and 11 minutes at Beaver Stadium Saturday before emerging with a thrilling 43-40 quadruple overtime victory.

The wildly entertaining game featured spectacular plays from both clubs, awful plays from both clubs, and plenty of heart from nearly everyone on the field.

The teams ran the ball a combined 98 times, but the Wolverines averaged only 2.8 yards per carry and the Lions 1.9. Each team tossed a pair of interceptions. State had what appeared to be a back-breaking lost fumble. U-M's Brendan Gibbons missed three field goals, including two potential game-winners in OT.

And yet, by the time RB Bill Belton finally ended it on a 2-yard TD run in the fourth OT, one had the feeling that everyone had left everything out on the field.

Here is how we saw things.

MAN OF THE HOUR: Penn State DE and Michigan native C.J. Olaniyan had eight tackles and 2.5 sacks in what was surely the best game of his career.

CLOSE SECOND: Belton carried 27 times for only 85 yards. But he converted a key fourth down in quadruple OT (and it was not easy) and then scored the game-winning touchdown.

CLOSE THIRD: Not a perfect game for QB Christian Hackenberg. But he led PSU on an amazing 80-yard TD drive in the final minute of regulation to send the game to overtime. He was 23 of 44 for 305 yards, three scores and two picks. He also snuck in for his first career rushing TD.

GIVE THE OTHER GUY CREDIT: Michigan QB Devin Gardner was outstanding, throwing for 240 yards and three scores and rushing for 121. Michigan had 389 total yards. He accounted for 361 of them. U-M LB James Ross III had 10 tackles and a forced fumble.

TURNING POINT: Down 34-27 with 50 seconds remaining, Penn State got the ball at its own 20. Hackenberg was magnificent. He hit Allen Robinson for 14 yards, then Brandon Felder for 29, then Robinson again for 36. Robinson's amazing catch gave PSU the ball at the Michigan half-yard line, and after a Wolverine timeout Hackenberg snuck in for the score. After initially thinking about going for two and the win, PSU coach Bill O'Brien opted for the conventional PAT and tie.

SOLID STRATEGY: Penn State never gave up on the run, as it did in the IU loss. Not when U-M kept stuffing it. Not when RB Zach Zwinak had a third-quarter lost fumble for a score. It kept Michigan honest and ultimately PSU won on a run. BTW: The final play count for the Lions was 44 runs and 45 passes.

NUMBERS GAME: How tight was this game? Michigan ended up with 389 yards of total offense. Penn State had 390. Yep, that tight.

BUSINESS AS USUAL: LBs Mike Hull and Glenn Carson each logged 10 tackles for PSU. Carson was beaten on a long TD pass but we get the sense it was not his fault.

SPECIAL DELIVERY: DT Kyle Baublitz got a paw on Gibbons' 40-yard field goal attempt that would have won it in the first overtime.


• Zwinak continuing to put the pig on the ground. Penn State opened the second half with a 21-10 lead and the Lion veteran fumbled on the first play. DE Frank Clark returned it 24 yards for a momentum-swinging score.

• PSU's O-line continuing to struggle to get any sort of push when it comes to the ground game. To their credit, the O-linemen got it done when it mattered.

• The fans -- though admittedly it was not many -- who bolted when Penn State fell behind 34-24 early in the fourth quarter.

• K Sam Ficken suddenly being inconsistent again. He was 3 of 5 in this game, but his missed 40-yarder in double OT could have been a disaster.

HIDDEN HERO: DE Anthony Zettel got his first start of the season (in place of Deion Barnes) and made the most of it. He had three stops and an interception, which he returned 18 yards. He is another Michigan native.

LOST IN THE SHUFFLE: He did most of his damage early on. But Felder, who missed the IU game with an ankle injury, finished with six catches for 97 yards and a pair of scores.


• DT DaQuan Jones had nine tackles, two tackles for loss and a fumble recovery. He actually played some DE when Penn State went to a five-man front.

• Zwinak did not play another snap after his fumble for a TD.

• S Ryan Keiser returned to action after missing the IU game with a hand injury. He started in place of Malcolm Willis and had two tackles. But his left hand was heavily wrapped. He did not handle his usual holding duties, though.

• Run on Adam Geiger took over as holder and seemed to do a good job.

• Though he did not start, Willis had six tackles.

UNANSWERED QUESTION: With a bye week to prepare, do the Nittany Lions have anything for unbeaten Ohio State in Columbus?

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