FINAL: Penn State 42, Michigan 13. And who saw this coming? Penn State just hung six touchdowns on what some believed was the country’s best defense. What a statement win by the Nittany Lions.
7:50 left in 4th Quarter (Josh): Penn State lost last season 49-10 to Michigan, so I can’t help but think this second-half beatdown might be motivated by last season just a little bit. Heard one Michigan fan on my way to the press room yell, “Are you freaking kidding me? They scored again?” Like most U-M fans, she was not happy.
7:53 left in 4th Quarter (Ryne): Trace McSorley rushes for his third touchdown, pushing Penn State’s lead to 42-13. McSorley now has 76 yards rushing on 11 carries. The quarterback had a 19-yard run to set up his nine-yard touchdown run.
9:50 left in 4th Quarter (Ryne): Penn State sacks John O’Korn twice, including on fourth down. That pushes the Nittany Lions’ total to six sacks. Seven players have been credited on the sacks. Kevin Givens recorded the sack on fourth down.
13:11 left in 4th Quarter (Ryne): Saquon Barkley makes a juggling catch for a 42-yard touchdown to push Penn State’s lead to 35-13. The running back dropped a pass along the sideline in the second quarter, but this time, he secured the catch for his third touchdown of the night. He now has 111 yards rushing and two touchdowns to go with 53 yards receiving and score.
END OF THIRD QUARTER
3:02 left in 3rd Quarter (Josh): It’s official. This is the largest crowd to ever attend a game at Beaver Stadium. The announced attendance was 110,823.
5:13 left in 3rd Quarter (Josh): You know, it really felt like this quarter was moving slowly — but the Nittany Lions really milked the clock on that last drive. Make it Penn State 28-13 now, and it would take a small miracle for U-M to overcome that deficit with its terrible offense and Penn State’s great defense.
14:08 left in 3rd Quarter (Josh): Penn State should be happy that Donovan Peoples-Jones dropped that receiver screen. It looked as if the blocks were set up pretty nicely; that one could’ve gone for quite a few yards. Instead, it’s an incompletion — and John O’Korn gets sacked on the next play.
With Penn State leading 21-13 at halftime, here are three takeaways at the break:
▪ Penn State has added a nice wrinkle to its offense: Direct snaps.
We all saw that come through on the second offensive play of the game. On what looked like a traditional RPO play, Saquon Barkley handled the shotgun snap and housed it.
Joe Moorhead’s had his thinking cap on.
▪ There was something a little off with Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley. At least early.
In the first quarter alone, he missed a couple wide-open receivers and crucially wasn’t on the same page with tight end Mike Gesciki. McSorley threw over Juwan Johnson’s head on a would-be first down, flat-out missed Barkley on a crossing pattern from the slot and threw to where he thought Gesicki would break — and didn’t — on a momentum-killing interception.
McSorley’s had poor start to games before. Think Week 2 against Pitt.
He rebounded well in the second stanza. We’ll see if he continues that after the break.
▪ After a slow start, Michigan’s defense is starting to look like Michigan’s defense.
The Wolverines are a nasty bunch, and despite surrendering two first-quarter touchdowns, they’ve gotten after McSorley and nearly had an interception in the end zone — Penn State’s own end zone.
Michigan’s front-four versus Penn State’s offensive line continues to be the matchup to watch in this one.
▪ Bonus takeaway: Mike Gesicki has unreal hops.
END OF SECOND QUARTER
00:53 left in 2nd Quarter (John): That’s a big score for Penn State. A three-yard run by Trace McSorley to extend Penn State’s lead to 21-13 just before halftime is important. Michigan had rattled off 13 unanswered points following a fire start by the Nittany Lions. A response to the Wolverines was certainly welcomed by James Franklin and company.
1:45 left in 2nd Quarter (Josh): And that 14-point lead has already dissolved. Thought that would be pretty safe against an offense as terrible as Michigan’s, but today’s a weird day in the Big Ten. (After all, Rutgers actually won.) The Nittany Lions still lead 14-13 after U-M’s most-recent TD run, thanks to an earlier missed PAT by Nordin. Thought we were on the verge of a runaway game, but it looks as if it’s going to be another dogfight. Maybe it’s best if you ready our blood-pressure medication now.
5:47 left in 2nd Quarter (Josh): Newsflash: Saquon Barkley is human. He just dropped a rare pass on a wheel route that would’ve set the Nittany Lions up nicely in the red zone. Can’t really be too mad at Barkley if you’re a fan. I mean, he’s the reason PSU has the lead.
9:59 left in 2nd Quarter (Josh): Can U-M march 70-plus yards to score a TD once this game? It really doesn’t seem like it. If the rest of this game turns out to be a battle of field position, Penn State still has to like those odds. A lot.
10:30 left in 2nd Quarter (Josh): Thought of the Quarter: I love me some Tom Petty ... but I don’t know if “Freefallin” is the best song to play for the No. 2 team in the nation.
11:26 left in 2nd Quarter (Josh): I don’t know if I’ve ever heard a collective groan that loud before, or a bigger sigh of relief. Trace McSorley should’ve almost certainly been intercepted in the end zone there. The Nittany Lions just escaped from a U-M TD there. And Blake Gillikin again plays the role of hero with a loooong punt that puts U-M on its own 36. That’s a big turning point, actually.
12:53 left in 2nd Quarter (Josh): Some good blocking on that fourth-and-goal Michigan TD — and lots of booing for U-M kicker Quinn Nordin, who was once committed to Penn State. You could hear some open laughing here from the press box after he missed the PAT. PSU leads 14-6.
15:00 left in 2nd Quarter (Josh): After one quarter, Penn State leads 14-0. As far as what we’ve learned? Well ... Saquon Barkley still deserves the Heisman.
END OF FIRST QUARTER
1:55 left in 1st Quarter (Josh): The only way Michigan is clawing its way back in this game is if Penn State commits turnovers. So that McSorley interception was just what U-M needed. Didn’t look like the receiver was even looking for the ball.
Michigan’s offense is not a big-play monster, though, so it’ll need help to come back from two TDs. It’s essentially like 2017 PSU playing 2015 PSU.
5:00 left in 1st Quarter (Josh): So far this quarter, Penn State has more than 170 total offensive yards. Michigan? Minus-5 total yards. Yes, that’s right — you, sitting on your couch at home, have more yards than Michigan.
9:00 left in 1st Quarter (Josh): Sorry, guys. A little bit of a technical hiccup there so we couldn’t update for like 5-10 minutes. Should be OK now. What you missed? Just Saquon Barkley being Saquon Barkley:
10:30 left in 1st Quarter (Josh): Yeah, I’d say Mike Gesicki feels just fine this week.
11:50 left in 1st Quarter (Josh): The atmosphere here is electric. The press box usually muffles out a good bit of the noise, but I’ve got to yell to communicate to the person next to me. I can’t tell you the last time I’ve had to do that. It’s almost nice when the Nittany Lions are offense — just because my ears aren’t ringing. Really, an incredible sight.
14:13 left in first quarter (John): Saquon Barkley, man. The Heisman front-runner housed a 69-yard run with ease through Michigan’s defense. It was a stellar play-call by Joe Moorhead, too. A direct snap totally fooled the Michigan defense, which was fully expected a traditional RPO play. That wasn’t traditional. Minutes later, Penn State’s defense forces a three-and-out. Momentum firmly in the Nittany Lions’ corner.
Minutes Before Gametime (John): Well, those were some pyrotechnics. What an entrance by the Nittany Lions. It’s not an odd occurrence for the Beaver Stadium press box to shake. Happens almost every time a game-changing play goes down. But before the game even starts? My hands were trembling taking the video. Credit to the Penn State student section.
20 Minutes Before Gametime (John): This place is rocking. Beaver Stadium was pretty much filled up with 45 minutes until kick, but now there’s only a sliver of empty seats at the tip top of the student section. Going through starting lineup announcements on the videoboard, the pom-pom-wielding students went wild for Saquon Barkley, of course. Marcus Allen, Mike Gesicki and Trace McSorley also received a noticeably warm reception. As expected, Will Fries was announced as the Nittany Lions’ starting right tackle. Chasz Wright will likely see some time, but Fries is the guy from the get-go — and he’ll face a steep challenge with Michigan’s tenacious front-four. Fries and the Lions are done warmups and heading back to the locker room. Kickoff is right around the corner...
60 Minutes Before Gametime (John): Saquon Barkley and Penn State’s special teams unit are the first to come out of the tunnel — and boy oh boy, is it crowded down there. The Beaver Stadium sidelines are absolutely jam-packed with recruits taking in tonight’s game. White Outs tend to draw the largest crowd when it comes to prospects checking out Happy Valley. Of course, when Penn State beat Michigan in a White Out back in 2013, Barkley was in attendance as a recruit — and that’s the game that really sold him on coming to Penn State. Several Nittany Lions said the same throughout the week. With the stadium quickly filling up, it’ll be a cool experience for those high schoolers on the sidelines.
90 Minutes Before Gametime (John): Howdy, folks — we’re oh so close to kick off here at Beaver Stadium, where No. 2 Penn State will host No. 19 Michigan. It’s easily the biggest weekend of the year in Happy Valley. College GameDay graced the Old Main Lawn this morning, continuing a feverish buzz that’s consumed downtown State College for the past few days. That excitement has made its way to Beaver Stadium as the gates are now open; some fans are casually strolling in, while those at Nittanyville bolted to nab the best seats they could. The White Out is always a sight to see — and this game will be, too. We won’t be providing straight play-by-play, but stick around here for thoughts and observations throughout the night from yours truly and CDT sports editor Josh Moyer.
Who: No. 19 Michigan at No. 2 Penn State
Where: Beaver Stadium
When: 7:30 p.m.
TV/Radio: ABC/WQWK 1450
Previews: Click here