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Penn State pummels Michigan to end streak, 46-17;
No.3 at Ohio State next
State College, PA - Early bad omens seemed to indicate rough times ahead for Penn State despite facing a 23-1/2 point underdog, Michigan (2-5). PSU's national baton twirler dropped her baton, the drum major landed on his butt after his traditional flip, and the Beaver Stadium ribbon lights briefly went on the fritz before the opening kickoff. The pre-game omens led to a 17-7 Wolverine lead in the second quarter, but the team on the field eventually overcame some early setbacks to right itself in the second half with effective defensive adjustments and a solid performance by RB Evan Royster to end Michigan's 9-game winning streak against the Lions, 46-17. The Homecoming crowd of 110,017 enjoyed tailgating on a colder than expected day, and never saw Joe Paterno along the sideline as leg injuries kept him in the heated pressbox.
The pre-game omens scared the PSU faithful as the first snap to QB Darryl Clark out of the shotgun slipped right though his hands for a 16-yard loss. Michigan's Brandon Minor (23 carries for 123 yards) scored his first of two touchdowns in the first half on his team's first possession. A Michigan FG put the visitors up by 10 before Royster's 44-yard TD run for PSU. Minor's second TD early in Q2 made it look like the Wolverine's were up for the challenge that day as their no huddle offense seemed to have the Lion defense back on its heels. Guest Game Analyst (GGA) Kelle Massimilla suggested that it was time to bring Joe down from the pressbox to get his boys fired up whether he used a wheel chair or a cane! We envisioned Joe shaking his cane at players or referees instead of his finger. With :23 left in the half, Darryl Clark's 3-yard TD pass to Jordan Norwood finished the first-half scoring to close the score to 17-14 before the Homecoming festivities featuring the Blue Band and Alumni band.
Kevin Kelly's 42-yard FG tied the score, but the momentum changed with 4:39 left in the third period when DT Jared Odrick tackled QB Brian Sheridan in the end zone for a safety to get Penn State its first lead of the day, 19-17. The ensuing punt on the free kick was shanked. State drove 50 yards for Clark's one-yard TD run. On the first play of the fourth, Kelly drilled a 32-yard FG for another PSU score, the onslaught was on. DE Aaron Maybin forced a fumble recovered by Abe Koroma at Michigan's 19. Clark scored from the one again. Kelly put up three from the 20. With 2:05 left, Stephfon Green who replaced Royster (174 yards on 18 carries) took a screen from Pat Devlin who replaced Clark (171 yards passing, 45 rushing) and went 80 yards to make the final score 46-17. If looks could kill! As his team huddled for the kickoff return, Michigan Head Coach Rich Rodriguez stood away from his team with hands on hips staring angrily. He was probably wishing that he had stayed in West Virginia. We're sure his team will improve ... next year.
Intrastate rival Michigan State and Javon Ringer loom next week for the Wolverines. We'll see the Spartans host Wisconsin the following week. For PSU (8-0), 7-1 Ohio State, ranked No. 10, awaits next week for their Big Ten showdown in Columbus. We think the Lions' sluggish start may have been in anticipation of this one. The Lions have sights on BCS implications. This is big. We plan to see them play again on Nov. 15 at home against Indiana. The picture will be a little clearer by then if they have a shot to end up in Miami on January 8.
Extra points: Great Tailgating Saturday with John and Kelle Massimilla, their friends, and kids. The Bloody Marys started to flow at 9:30 am for the 4:30 pm kickoff. Burgers for breakfast were great while the Blue Band practiced next to us in lot #12. Most of the women huddled in chairs under blankets as the 70 degree weather only two days before got down into the 40s before taking into account the wind chill. Men focused on maintaining the proper levels of antifreeze. GGA Frank Lorito brought his traditional cigars as well.
For the first time ever, I had a Lion paw applied by face painters who do it for charity. They placed it on top of the head to cut down on the glare!
Traffic opened up at around 10:30 pm after the game before we left lot 12. John fears that the IU game will kickoff at noon on the 15th. If you think leaving late from a Penn State is a hassle, getting to a 12 noon game is even worse. Everyone shows up at the same time! Traffic is horrific.
This was the first time CFF saw PSU knock off Michigan after four losses. Two other games in this series would have been seen. One we missed due to a major snow storm in 1995. The other was missed when four-year old Eric got sick the night before in our hotel room in 1999, and we sold the tickets the next morning before going home. PSU won the first, but lost the second.
This Thursday, CFF will attend its 350th game since game-tracking started in 1979 when we see Auburn visit West Virginia.