Once again, strong defense helped Michigan upset Penn State.
Tom Brady threw two touchdown passes and the No. 22 Wolverines forced five turnovers in a 27-0 victory Saturday, handing No. 9 Penn State its first shutout in 11 years.
"I think you saw a Michigan team that was pretty fired up out there," Brady said. "That was the most enthusiastic we've been in the last eight weeks."
It was the seventh consecutive victory for Michigan (7-2, 6-0 Big Ten) and kept the Wolverines on track for consecutive conference championships. Penn State (6-2, 3-2) went into the game with a defense ranked in the top 11 of four NCAA defensive categories, but gave up 360 yards to the Wolverines.
"I was concerned if somebody decided to run right at us, whether we were strong enough," Penn State coach Joe Paterno said.
Last year, the Nittany Lions were ranked No. 2 and Michigan No. 4 when the teams met at State College, Pa. But a 34-8 victory vaulted Michigan to No. 1 and the Wolverines went on to win the national championship.
"It's frustrating to come out here and get embarrassed again by the Michigan team," linebacker Brandon Short said.
Brady was 17-of-30 for 224 yards with a 26-yard touchdown pass to Aaron Shea in the first quarter and a 7-yard scoring strike to Tai Streets in the second as the Wolverines forged a 17-0 lead at the half.
| Michigan's Clarence Williams can't handle a pass from quarterback Tom Brady Saturday, but Penn State couldn't touch the Wolverines. (AP) |
Anthony Thomas scored on a 1-yard run and Jay Feely added two field goals.
Kevin Thompson, who had been intercepted just for times all season, gave up two of three interceptions by the Nittany Lions, who also lost two fumbles.
"Our biggest problem was that we never really got into a rhythm," said Thompson, who was 8-of-21 for 94 yards. "We had sacks, penalties, fumbles and interceptions. And when you get that kind of play from your offensive unit, you can't look to score."
Defense was the key as Michigan held the Nittany Lions to 13 first downs and 200 yards while forcing key Penn State mistakes.
Perhaps the biggest play of the game came on the first snap of the second quarter.
Penn State, trailing 10-0, had recovered a fumble and driven 19 yards to the Michigan 1 where it appeared the Nittany Lions would kick a field goal.
But the quarter ended, and paterno changed his mind. He called his field goal unit back while the teams were moving to the other end of the field.
"We needed that touchdown, and I thought that was the thing to do at the time," Paterno said.
When play resumed, Aaron Harris tried to dive in for the touchdown, but he was driven back by Sam Sword, Ian Gold and Tommy Hendricks.
"I had no idea where the play was going, but we got a great push up front and we didn't get knocked off the ball," Sword said. "Our defensive line got great penetration and it was a huge play for us."
It was one of many.
On the third snap of the game, Juaquin Feazell sacked Thompson for a 7-yard loss. The Wolverines, after the punt, went 63 yards in eight plays to record the first first-quarter touchdown Penn State had yielded this season.
Thompson's fumble on Penn State's next possession set up an 18-yard field goal by Jay Feely that gave Michigan a 10-0 lead with 8:44 left in the first quarter.
The Nittany Lions missed another scoring opportunity with 4:23 left in the second quarter when Travis Forney was wide on a 32-yard field goal attempt.
The Wolverines responded by driving 80 yards for another touchdown on Brady's pass to Streets. Brady hit 4-of-4 for 66 yards in the drive, including a short toss that Thomas turned into a 41-yard gain.
"I don't expect anything like this to happen two times," Penn State linebacker LaVar Arrington said. "It's the same thing over again. We thought we had a good game plan, but they exploited everything we didn't do."
The mistakes continued in the third quarter when DeWayne Patmon picked off Thompson's pass, setting up a 49-yard field goal by Feely.
Late in the third quarter, Bruce Branch fumbled a punt at the Penn State 19. But the Nittany Lions got the ball back three snaps later when David Macklin picked off Bradys pass at the 1.
Michigan iced the game with Thomas' 1-yard touchdown run with 3:03 remaining, capping an 11-play, 46-yard drive that took 7:15 off the clock.
Penn State's last shutout was Nov. 14, 1987, a 10-0 loss to Pittsburgh.
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