Penn State came up on the wrong end of a true Big Ten defensive battle with Michigan in Week 11. The loss on Saturday afternoon in Beaver Stadium dropped the Nittany Lions to 8-2 on the year and 5-2 in Big Ten play, all but officially eliminating Penn State from competing for the Big Ten championship. Penn State’s offense continued to come up small against a good defense, and Michigan did its part to take away any opportunities for Penn State.
The final box score was not a pretty one for Penn State, especially on offense. With Michigan taking to the ground to establish control and winning the turnover battle, Penn State knows it has some big areas to improve before challenging for a Big Ten title any time soon.
Here is a look at some of the key stats from Penn State’s 24-15 loss to the Michigan Wolverines in Week 11.
Drew Allar: 10/22, 70 yards, 1 TD, 49 rushing yards, 1 rushing TD
Penn State quarterback Drew Allar is going to receive a decent amount of heat for the lack of offensive production, and some of that will be fair. But he also did not get much help from his receivers. Allar does have to perform better in these types of games if Penn State is going to elevate itself moving forward.
Allar is still just a sophomore and the defense he just faced is the best he has faced so far. It did not go well but how does he use this experience, and the experience at Ohio State, to make things better in the future? That is the key for Allar and this Penn State offense.
Red Zone success
Penn State: 3-for-3, 15 points
Michigan: 2-for-2, 10 points
Penn State scored the first points of the game with a short field goal by Alex Felkins from 20 yards out in the first quarter. At the time, you may have felt like that was a missed opportunity for Penn State. you would have been right. Penn State did score both of its touchdowns in the red zone with all three red zone trips netting points, but settling for a field goal early and getting a late touchdown to dig into a big deficit is a bit of an empty feeling.
Michigan actually scored two touchdowns from outside the red zone, and was also forced to settle for a field goal at a critical point in the game.
Michigan used the ground game to perfection
Michigan didn't complete a pass after halftime but outscored Penn State, 10-6. https://t.co/QAZn2HPXC0
— Tyler Donohue (@TDsTake) November 11, 2023
This is hard to do, even in a defensive game such as this. Michigan quarterback completed 7 of 8 pass attempts in the first half for 60 yards, and the running back duo of Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards pretty much took it from there.
29 yards: Penn State receivers combined receiving total
Penn State only had 74 passing yards in the entire game, but the wide receivers accounted for just 29 of those yards. Kaden Saunders had one catch for 13 yards, although it came in a clutch moment on fourth down to keep a drive alive). Dante Cephas had 2 catches for 11 yards. KeAndre Lambert-Smith was limited to just 1 catch for 6 yards. Malick Meiga caught one pass but actually lost a yard on the play.
Penn State’s wide receiver concerns have plagued them all season long, and it hurt them in a big way against a team as talented as Michigan.
Kevin Winston Jr.: 12 tackles, 5 solo, 0.5 TFL
Penn State got a busy day from Kevin Winston Jr., who led the Nittany Lions with 12 tackles. The 12 total tackles is a season-high for Winston, as are the 7 assists he recorded in the game,
1 - Sacks by Penn State's defense
Michigan took away opportunities to bring down quarterback J.J. McCarthy thanks to its running game taking over, but the Nittany Lions recorded just one sack in the game. The return of Chop Robinson didn’t help against this Michigan offensive line, although the Nittany Lions did end the game with 7 TFL.
Points off turnover margin: -3 for Penn State
Penn State quarterback Drew Allar lost a fumble on what was looking to be a pretty promising drive to start the second half. It resulted in a short field goal by Michigan in the third quarter to go up 17-9, but it also ran off just over 8 minutes of game clock. In a defensive game like this, that proved to be critical.
Penn Stae’s defense was unable to recover a fumble by Blake Corum and ended the game without a forced turnover to create any opportunities for its offense.