At the time, when envisioning the recap I’d write the following morning, I was hopeful that Michigan’s goal-line series near the end of the second half would serve as a guiding theme for the rest of the game and the season. After three stalemates in the trenches, Karan Higdon finally sprung loose to the pylon and brought Michigan to within 1 point following a 14-0 start from the Nittany Lions that might have felled a team with less mettle. However, buoyed by a resurgent defense sparked by David Long’s near pick-six, the Wolverines offense seemed to have turned a corner and upgraded to mediocre. Rather than continuing to run Higdon into a brick wall, Michigan found their athletes in space, with John O’Korn looking at least playable as a scrambler-cum-QB. Poised to receive the ball to start the second half, Michigan had begun to scheme around their obvious weaknesses, and looked ready to at least mount a challenge to the #2-ranked Nittany Lions on their home turf.
It was all a mirage. The brick wall bounced back and obliterated the Wolverines with a 52-second, 7-play, 75-yard drive that set the tone for the rest of the game. The offense reverted to anemic. Joe Moorhead and Trace McSorely picked apart a defense that can no longer be seriously considered among the nation’s elite, constantly isolating Saquon Barkley and DaeSean Hamilton against overmatched linebackers and safeties. Whatever bright spots emerged in the first half were smothered by the onslaught that followed. The icing on this urinal cake of a game: O’Korn probably didn’t even play poorly enough to merit getting benched next week against Rutgers.
Penn State, much like Michigan at this time last year, is a playoff contender rife with talent and experience rounding into full form. A borderline top 25 team heading into the Lions’ den at night should get eviscerated. But as a fan who lives and dies with this team every Saturday, it’s impossible to just accept such detached analysis. Don Brown, the talisman to which Michigan’s hopes of present respectability and future dominance cling, was tarnished by James Franklin and co., yet again lowering expectations beneath the bedrock. Performative pessimism and outrage have been en vogue among the locals since Iowa last year and will remain so until Michigan beats the Buckeyes by 40 and wins a national title. I try to resist getting caught up in the myopic ebb and flow of football fanaticism, but man, everything sucks right now, and I didn’t ever expect to feel this way with Jim Harbaugh in charge.
In lieu of humor and whimsy in the body of the actual blog, here’s 5 tweets I liked during the game.
If you’re gonna go down early…
As things devolved, Michigan fans clung to flags as a saving grace. The men in stripes couldn’t wrest the rags from their grip, evidently, as Penn State was never penalized on offense or defense.
Mike McCray covering Saquon Barkley in space was always going to end in doom. Good thing Michigan took every possible precaution to avoid this matchup… until it happened like half a dozen times. Whoops.
What’s the point of doing this if I can’t shamelessly plug my Twitter?
I’ve got a couple door frames to paint too. Might do so next Saturday around noon.