U-M: Game Breakdown

Check out the good, the bad and the ugly from the Nittany Lions' trip to the Big House.

MAN OF THE HOUR: Make this Men of the Hour. QBs Chad Henne and Michael Robinson both had some issues. But both played inspired ball late in the game.

TURNING POINT: Steve Breaston busted a 41-yard kickoff return with less than a minute left and his team trailing, 25-21. A jubilant Lion sideline got quiet in a hurry.

NUMBERS GAME: Penn State had more yards passing and rushing than U-M, but special teams' blunders and turnovers negated that edge.

INJURY REPORT: Lion freshman receiver Derrick Williams injured his left arm on a late kickoff return and did not return. His arm was in a sling when he left the field. Penn State reported that Williams' arm would be checked when he returned to State College and an update will be issued at some later time.

TWIST OF FATE: Who would have guessed the two seconds the officials added to the game clock with half a minute to go would prove so critical? Give Lloyd Carr credit for asking for them. Not sure why they were granted, though.

SPECIAL DELIVERY: Breaston showed why he is one of the nation's best return men by popping a big one at a critical time. Not-so-special teams do in the Lions once again.

WHAT'S UP WITH: Calvin Lowry still returning punts? We're getting the sense the head coach is sticking with him in this role just to try to prove folks wrong. It's not working. Lowry failed to field a second-quarter punt that eventually rolled 64 yards and pinned PSU at its own 5.

HIT SQUAD: U-M CB Grant Mason and PSU TB Tony Hunt slammed into each other midway through the second quarter. The hit knocked Hunt from the game for the rest of the possession.

HEADS-UP: PSU K Kevin Kelly, a 5-foot-7, 170-pounder, picked up a bad PAT snap and - in shades of Burt Reynolds in The Longest Yard (the original) - slooooowly ran left and ducked into the end zone for a two-point conversion.

HIDDEN HERO: The Michigan offensive line kept Henne safe on the final drive. Of course, it helped that Penn State did not blitz on the final play of the game.

LOST IN THE SHUFFLE: Given the problems Penn State had on placements in this game, one has to wonder if the loss of starting holder Paul Cronin for disciplinary reasons was not more significant than originally thought. In fairness to new holder Jason Ganter, Jason Alford's snaps seemed to be as much an issue as anything with the holds.

DID YOU NOTICE:

  • That Joe Paterno received a louder round of applause in the pregame introductions than Carr? Tough home crowd.

  • That E.Z. Smith replace Isaac Smolko on punt snaps? Jeremy Kapinos reportedly had trouble with Smolko's snaps, which have a bit of a hook to them. Kapinos was one of the few bright spots for the Lion special teams in this one (47 yards per kick).

  • That former Lion and current San Francisco 49er Anthony Adams was on the PSU sideline? The Niners have a bye this week and Adams is a Detroit native.

  • That freshman linebacker Jerome Hayes made the trip even though he had yet to play in a game? Hayes did not play Saturday, either.

    UNANSWERED QUESTION: With a wide-open Big Ten race, will the Lions fold after their first loss or come back smoking at Illinois.

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