14 October 2006

Final: Michigan 17, Penn State 10

My prediction: Penn State 20, Michigan 17
Final score: Michigan 17, Penn State 10

Penn State kicked off to Michigan to start the second half, and the Nittany Lion defense responded by stopping the Wolverines from reaching midfield. Michigan punted, and Morelli converted a huge 3rd and 19 to Derrick Williams, but was hit on the play and left the game (the hit was questionably late, and Morelli was driven into the ground, but there was no flag). He was replaced by backup Darryl Clark, but the drive stalled on the next series.

Penn State's defense kept the Nittany Lions in the game for a long time but couldn't keep Michigan from scoring their second TD of the game with 25 seconds left in the third quarter. This is becoming a routine this year: the defense keeps the game close for a while (i.e., Ohio State game) but the offense never responds.

The Nittany Lion offense was anemic after Morelli left the game. Then Darryl Clark was hurt and Paul Cianciolo came into the game. When your third string quarterback is playing (and not by choice), it isn't a very good night. Cianciolo found Tony Hunt for a 44 yard touchdown with 3:18 left to make the score 17-10.

Penn State kicked to Michigan and the defense held. Michigan punted to Penn State and amazingly enough, Penn State had the ball with a minute and a half left and down by a touchdown. However, expecting magic from Cianciolo was just too much. You do have to give it to Penn State for the heart they showed in never giving up this game. For as much as Michigan dominated the game, the Penn State defense kept it close and gave the team the chance.

Penn State's offensive line got destroyed in pass protection. They gave up 5 sacks in the first half and two more in the second. Tony Hunt had little success running the ball, but then again Penn State never established the run in the first place.

The Nittany Lions' brutal schedule of three top five teams (two of them on the road) is finally over (Notre Dame, Ohio State, and Michigan). I had hoped at the outset of the season that we could win at least one of these three, and I thought Michigan would be it, but it was not to be. Wisconsin is the only remaining ranked opponent. Illinois, Purdue, Temple and Michigan State should be wins, with only the Wisconsin game a toss-up. 9-3 and a decent bowl game is still reachable.
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