Michigan did it.
The Wolverines beat Penn State (and some would argue the Big Ten) in their biggest victory of the season.
About 24 hours before kickoff, the governing body issued a timely suspension for Jim Harbaugh, leaving Michigan scrambling. But Sherrone Moore stepped up to the plate and went deep. The interim head coach took over and led the team to a massive win in a dangerous road environment, showcasing how deep and talented this staff is.
In an emotional postgame interview, Moore took after Harbaugh and gave the credit to the players. A class act from top to bottom.
It’s almost crazy to say that a top-10 matchup wasn’t the biggest story of the week, but somehow that rings true today.
Here are our five takeaways:
Kenneth Grant is dominant
Kenneth Grant put on a nose tackle clinic. Early in the game, he had a pair of massive run stops, then he made a spectacular play showcasing his athleticism when he ran down a Penn State running back in the open field, potentially stopping a touchdown.
The 340-pound monster has shown flashes of brilliance this season. He has collapsed the pocket, done a terrific job in the run game and been the freaky athlete that Harbaugh teased at the start of last season. Look for him to be a difference maker down the stretch against OSU and, hopefully, into the playoff.
The tackles ...
Simply need to be better. Michigan ran the ball for much of the game with varied levels of success, but part of that was because Karsen Barnhart was getting cooked off the edge. His guy directly ended two Michigan drives early in the game with pretty basic pass rush moves.
One dimensional offenses do not win championships. If Michigan wants to compete for a title, it will need to pick up the pass blocking.
Is there something we don’t know about Trente Jones? He has played well in his time on the field over the past two seasons, yet can’t seem to catch a break. His loyalty to the program has been immense. Hopefully, he feels he is getting enough return to make it worth his six years of commitment.
The QB run game works
It was a very predictable offensive performance from Michigan, but the offense showed valuable wrinkles. Moore did not hesitate to lean on the QB run game, and it paid off. McCarthy scampered eight times for 34 yards, but converted a number of crucial third downs and made all the right reads.
Though more passing is needed to win the next big contest, this is an element of the offense that should carry over into the OSU game and postseason. McCarthy is a great athlete, and he should utilized like one.
I get that Harbaugh was ruled out last minute, but wow that was a sad offensive game. Michigan ran the ball over 40 times and threw it just eight. The Wolverines ran into the teeth of Penn State’s elite run defense on a numbers of third downs, leading to a lot of negative plays. The Wolverines scored 24 points, but the offense was stagnant for much of the affair.
McCarthy is one of the best quarterbacks in the country. He has to be featured in the game plan weekly. Hopefully the staff will be more prepared for Harbaugh-less games in the future, but an offense almost 100% contingent on the run will not beat Ohio State.
Defense wins championships
What a stout performance.
Michigan’s defense allowed 234 yards, but got off the field when it mattered most and held Penn State to 15 points. Drew Allar failed to hit 100 yards, and the running game had it’s moments, but could not carry the offense.
This unit is elite. Will Johnson is a top talent nationally and the defensive front can hold up against anybody. Look for them to take control of other big games in the future.