Michigan 31, Penn St. 41Oct 31, 2010 - 4:34 AM
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) -- Michigan's defense can help give any opponent a confidence-boost - even one led by a former walk-on making his first career start.
Against the Wolverines, virtual unknown quarterback Matt McGloin had Penn State's offense humming along like a high-octane juggernaut.
McGloin deftly guided the Nittany Lions with 250 passing yards and a score, Evan Royster ran for 150 yards and two touchdowns and the defense staved off a second-half rally led by dual-threat star Denard Robinson for a 41-31 win Saturday night.
"That's about as well as we can play ... Mac had a lot to do with it," said coach Joe Paterno, who got his 399th career win. It was the first start at quarterback for a former walk-on in JoePa's 45 years on the sideline - necessitated by a possible head injury that limited freshman starter Rob Bolden in practice this week.
After a two-game slide, things are looking up again in Happy Valley after the Nittany Lions (5-3, 2-2 Big Ten) won their second straight and Royster broke the school career rushing record of 3,398 held for nearly three decades by Hall of Famer Curt Warner.
They're fretting again in Ann Arbor after a third straight loss for the Wolverines (5-3, 1-3) following a 5-0 start. Michigan fans were hoping Saturday would be the night the Wolverines would get a sixth win and become bowl eligible for the first time in coach Rich Rodriguez's three-year tenure.
Instead, he's back on the coaching hot seat. Again.
Blame it on the defense. Again.
"We're doing a good job of making a lot of quarterbacks look pretty good," Rodriguez said.
Opposing tailbacks, too. Royster had 99 yards and two scores in the first half alone, while an offensive line maligned all season for a choppy running game opened up holes for the senior tailback.
If not for Robinson, this might have been a blowout.
He was a virtual one-man gang, running for 191 yards and three scores on 27 carries, while throwing for 190 and a score. A bye the previous week helped him recover from right shoulder and left knee injuries, though Rodriguez said after the game the shoulder still wasn't 100 percent.
"That kid is a heck of a football player," Paterno said, "that Robinson kid."
Down by 21 for much of the second half, Robinson did his best to spark the Wolverines, including a 60-yard touchdown pass to wide-open tight end Kevin Koger and a 1-yard touchdown plunge on his own in the third quarter.
Robinson's 4-yard scoring run - his third of the night - got Michigan within 38-31 with 9:25 to go and left most of the 108,000-plus fans at Beaver Stadium nervous in their seats.
But Collin Wagner hit a 42-yard field goal to make it a two-possession game, and Robinson misfired on a fourth down pass on Michigan's next series with less than 5 minutes left.
Penn State's defense made enough plays to handcuff the Wolverines early, while the offense stomped all over the Michigan defense.
They accomplished it with McGloin at quarterback with Bolden held back after his injury last week at Minnesota. Bolden dressed and warmed up, but didn't take his usual allotment of snaps in practice this week.
McGloin finished 17 of 28 passing. Both he and Paterno sidestepped questions about a possible quarterback controversy if Bolden is ready to go for next week's home game against Northwestern.
"I haven't got the slightest idea, let me just enjoy this one," Paterno pleaded.
With a backup calling the plays, JoePa went old school on offense.
Twenty-nine handoffs to Royster. Screens to tailbacks. Passes over the middle to the team's most reliable target, 6-foot-6 receiver Brett Brackett. And just the right number of shots downfield to keep the defense honest.
"The thing is, we didn't do anything silly out there," Paterno said. "I think that's a sign of growing up."
After a Michigan field goal cut the lead to 14-10 with 8:43 left in the second, Penn State followed with an 11-play, 74-yard drive on which Royster gained 33 yards on five carries to set up McGloin's keeper from a yard out for an 11-point lead.
The creaky Beaver Stadium stands rocked as fans celebrated on the metal bleachers, waving their white pom-poms in the air. A late-arriving student section got in the act by wearing all white for a signature Happy Valley "Whiteout."
Devon Smith's 22-yard return had Penn State starting another drive at the Michigan 37, and McGloin hit Graham Zug with a perfectly thrown ball just over safety Ray Vinopal at the front corner of the end zone for a 28-10 lead.
"The frustrating thing is it's not just one person and it's usually a different thing," Rodriguez said. "The inconsistency is what's frustrating for everybody. We just have to play better."
- NCAAF FINAL
1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
--- --- --- --- -----
MICHIGAN 7 3 14 7 31
PENN ST 14 14 10 3 41 FINAL
1ST QUARTER: PENN ST - TD, EVAN ROYSTER 4 YD RUN (COLLIN
WAGNER KICK), 7:34. PENN ST
MICHIGAN - TD, DENARD ROBINSON 32 YD RUN
(SETH BROEKHUIZEN KICK),
10:59. MICHIGAN 7-7
PENN ST - TD, EVAN
Oct 30 11:18 PM
PENN ST 41 0:00 LEFT, 4TH QTR
Oct 30 11:18 PM
PENN ST 41 5:43 LEFT, 4TH QTR
Michigan 31, Penn State 41 4th - 5:43Oct 30 11:02 PM
PENN ST 38 9:25 LEFT, 4TH QTR
Michigan 31, Penn State 38 4th - 9:25Oct 30 10:52 PM
PENN ST 38 0:00 LEFT, 3RD QTR
Oct 30 10:36 PM
PENN ST 38 1:26 LEFT, 3RD QTR
Michigan 24, Penn State 38 3rd - 1:26Oct 30 10:34 PM
PENN ST 38 3:59 LEFT, 3RD QTR
Michigan 17, Penn State 38 3rd - 3:59Oct 30 10:26 PM
PENN ST 31 7:58 LEFT, 3RD QTR
Michigan 17, Penn State 31 3rd - 7:58Oct 30 10:17 PM
PENN ST 31 9:57 LEFT, 3RD QTR
Michigan 10, Penn State 31 3rd - 9:57Oct 30 10:08 PM
PENN ST 28 0:00 LEFT, 2ND QTR
Oct 30 9:36 PM
PENN ST 28 1:02 LEFT, 2ND QTR
Michigan 10, Penn State 28 2nd - 1:02Oct 30 9:27 PM
PENN ST 21 3:27 LEFT, 2ND QTR
Michigan 10, Penn State 21 2nd - 3:27Oct 30 9:18 PM
PENN ST 14 8:43 LEFT, 2ND QTR
Michigan 10, Penn State 14 2nd - 8:43Oct 30 9:07 PM
PENN ST 14 0:00 LEFT, 1ST QTR
Oct 30 8:41 PM
PENN ST 14 1:24 LEFT, 1ST QTR
Michigan 7, Penn State 14 1st - 1:24Oct 30 8:37 PM
PENN ST 7 4:01 LEFT, 1ST QTR
Michigan 7, Penn State 7 1st - 4:01Oct 30 8:30 PM
PENN ST 7 7:26 LEFT, 1ST QTR
Michigan 0, Penn State 7 1st - 7:26Oct 30 8:23 PM
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