Quarterback Trace McSorley surpassed 9,000 career passing yards for No. 14 Penn State, but No. 5 Michigan used a big second half en route to a 42-7 victory in Big Ten football action Saturday in Michigan Stadium.
Michigan led Penn State 14-0 at halftime, but scored four touchdowns over the final 16 minutes with the help of a pair of interceptions to put the game out of reach.
Quarterback Tommy Stevens scored Penn State’s lone touchdown on an 8-yard rush in the fourth quarter, and he was Penn State’s leading rusher with 52 yards on 10 carries. Stevens also completed 3-of-4 pass attempts for 35 yards with one interception. Tight end Pat Freiermuth was the Nittany Lions’ top receiver, making three catches for a career-high 51 yards. McSorley was limited to 83 yards passing on five completions.
Michigan’s defense limited Penn State to 186 yards of total offense and had three takeaways, with all three leading to touchdowns. Defensive lineman Chase Winovich tallied a sack and fumble recovery, cornerback Brandon Watson returned an interception for a touchdown late in the third quarter and cornerback David Long returned an interception to the Penn State 12 in the fourth quarter.
Michigan quarterback Shea Patterson completed 11-of-17 pass attempts for 144 yards and two touchdowns, and also rushed for 42 yards and a touchdown, while running back Karan Higdon rushed for 132 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries.
Middle linebacker Jan Johnson led Penn State with 10 tackles, including seven solo stops, a tackle for loss and a pass breakup on a fourth down in the first half.
On special teams, safety Nick Scott blocked a field goal in the first half that was returned for a touchdown by fellow safety Garrett Taylor, but it was called back due to a penalty.
Michigan limited Penn State to 186 yards of offense and just one touchdown, and points off turnovers accounted for half of the Wolverines scoring. Winovich’s fumble recovery in the second quarter led to Michigan’s second touchdown of the game, and Watson and Long’s interceptions put the game out of reach. Watson’s pick six came in the final minute of the third quarter, two plays after a Michigan touchdown had made it 21-0. In the fourth quarter, running back Chris Evans scored four plays after Michigan started at the Penn State 12 following Long’s pick
Patterson was responsible for three touchdowns, completing 11-of-17 passes for 144 yards and touchdown passes to wide receiver Donavan Peoples-Jones and tight end Zach Gentry, while also rushing 11 times for 42 yards and a touchdown.
Higdon rushed for 132 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries. He had a 50-yard run on Michigan’s first possession to key a touchdown drive, and his touchdown came in the fourth quarter to make it a 35-0 game.
Johnson led the unit with 10 tackles and defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos registered a sack for a fourth consecutive game. The unit faced a tough task with Michigan enjoying an average drive start at its own 41.
Michigan took a 7-0 lead after its first possession, driving 76 yards on eight running plays. Higdon moved the Wolverines into the red zone with a 50-yard rush, and Patterson finished the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run.
Michigan threatened on its next offensive drive, but Penn State’s Johnson broke up a fourth-and-2 passing attempt for turnover on downs at the Penn State 40.
The Nittany Lions were forced to punt on a third-straight drive, but Blake Gillikin pinned the Wolverines on their own 5. However, a 47-yard completion from Patterson to Nico Collins moved Michigan to the Penn State 37. The Lions yielded just 6 more yards though to force a 50-yard field goal attempt.
Nick Scott blocked the field goal attempt and Garrett Taylor recovered it and returned it for a touchdown, however a penalty negated the return and Penn State took over on offense at its own 35 with 12:10 remaining in the second quarter. The Nittany Lions moved to midfield on a pass interference penalty on their first play of the drive, but McSorley fumbled when trying to pull the ball back from running back Miles Sanders on the next play, and Winovich recovered it.
Michigan took advantage, as Patterson capped a 10-play, 48-yard drive with a 23-yard touchdown pass to Donavan Peoples-Jones.
Michigan extended its lead to 21-0 after a 13-play, 90-yard touchdown drive in the third quarter. The drive consumed 7:05 off the clock before Patterson tossed it to Zach Gentry for a 7-yard touchdown reception with 56 seconds remaining in the stanza.
Stevens took over for McSorley on the ensuing Penn State possession and immediately picked up a first down with an 18-yard rush. However, on the next play, his pass attempt was intercepted by Brandon Watson at the Michigan 38, and he returned it 62 yards for a touchdown and a 28-0 Michigan lead.
In the fourth quarter, Higdon added a rushing score, and a Long interception off of McSorley setup Evans’ rushing touchdown. Stevens led an 11-play, 75-yard touchdown drive for the final margin, capping it himself with an 8-yard run.
The Nittany Lions return to action next Saturday hosting Wisconsin in Beaver Stadium. Game time and television coverage will be announced Sunday.