But that all changed at the Big House Saturday.
On a windy, raw afternoon that seemed to call for a play-it-safe approach to offense, PSU quarterback Daryll Clark and his troops opened it up and ultimately dropped the hammer on the Wolverine defense in a 35-10 win
Clark threw for 230 yards and four TDs which, coupled with another dominating performance by the defense, helped the 13th-ranked Lions improve to 7-1 overall and 3-1 in the Big Ten and put the Big House jinx to bed once and for all.
Michigan fell to 5-3 and 1-3.
MAN OF THE HOUR: Penn State wideout Graham Zug had a career day, with five catches for 59 yards and three TDs. He clearly benefitted from the defense paying extra attention to the as of late hot Derek Moye, which is the way a receiving corps is supposed to work.
CLOSE SECOND: Nittany Lion linebacker Navorro Bowman was all over the field yet again. He had 11 tackles, an interception, a fumble recovery and a sack.
CLOSE THIRD: Is there a better lousy weather QB in the nation than Clark? He does not seem to be impacted by the elements.
TURNING POINT: Up 10-7 and facing fourth-and-3 from the Michigan 33 in the second quarter (and heading into a stiff wind), Penn State coach Joe Paterno called for a punt. Jeremy Boone's kick pinned the Wolverines at their own 8 and they panicked, as penalties and ineffective plays led to a third-and-16 from the 2. There, center David Moosman shotgun snapped the ball right past QB Tate Forcier and through the end zone for a safety. PSU led 12-7 and quickly tacked on a 60-yard touchdown strike from Clark to tight end Andrew Quarless to go up 19-7.
SOLID STRATEGY: The Lions were never afraid to pass in this game. Through three quarters, they had 227 passing yards (and four TDs) and 106 rushing yards (and no TDs.)
NUMBERS GAME: On the opening drive of the game, Michigan marched 70 yards on 11 plays for a 7-0 lead. For the rest of the first half, the Wolverines had 80 yards of total offense.
BUSINESS AS USUAL: The Penn State defense allowed 3.6 yards per play in the game. Running back Evan Royster ran for 100 yards on 20 carries.
SPECIAL DELIVERY: Chaz Powell returned the opening kickoff of the third quarter 54 yards, to the Michigan 43. Penn State cashed in with 4-play scoring drive, with Clark hitting Zug for the 11-yard TD, to take a 25-10 lead.
WHAT'S UP WITH?
Paterno's whacky towel-around-the-neck look on rainy days. He looks like a prizefighter from the 1950s. Is their no hat suitable for that head?
Michigan's Wildcat offense with Denard Robinson. PSU was clearly too athletic for it to work. His first series ended in an interception, his second in a lost fumble.
Guard Johnnie Troutman being slapped with two false-start penalties on PSU's next to last possession of the first half? It buried the Lions in the shadow of their own goalpost and helped set up a short-field scoring drive by the Wolverines just before intermission. Luckily for PSU, it was only a field goal that drew Michigan within 19-10.
Drew Astorino calling a fair catch on a punt that went to Zug. It wiped out what would have been a short return by Zug. We've said it often this season: PSU's two-man punt return setup is curious at best.
The officials freezing the clock at 36 seconds following Brandon Minor's run to the PSU 2 late in the first half. He did not pick up a first down nor did he go out of bounds. What is it about the clock operator in this place?
Penn State allowing another block of a Boone punt. Boone had no punts blocked in 2007 or '08. He has had two blocked in Big Ten play this year, one against Iowa that went for a score and the one Brandon Graham got Saturday.
HIDDEN HERO: PSU defensive end Jack Crawford had only three tackles. But that hardly speaks to his impact in this game. All three stops were behind the line, including a sack. He also forced a fumble.
LOST IN THE SHUFFLE: Quarless had two catches for 91 yards and a score. On the TD, he outran two defenders. Linebacker Josh Hull had 10 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and a sack.
DID YOU NOTICE?
PSU unveiling a new kickoff return formation, with Powell as the lone deep man and defensive end Jerome Hayes as his protector. Hayes actually returned a short kickoff 20 yards.
The Lion coaching staff may have trusted Clark to throw the ball. But it clearly was not comfortable letting him throw to just anyone. Only five players caught passes -- Zug, Moye, Quarless, Royster and fullback Joe Suhey.
UNANSWERED QUESTION: Will Michigan ever beat Penn State?