The Nittany Lions have not gotten off to a great start on the season. However, beating Michigan has to warm the hearts of Penn State fans all around the country. Penn State now sits at 1-5 while the Michigan Wolverines fall to 2-4. So let’s talk about how it happened.
Penn State captured it’s first win of the season in a 27-17 win at their rival Michigan. It was a great start for Penn State. Up until this game, they had never scored on their opening drive this year. They relied on their running game and scored on a six-yard rush from Keyvone Lee. On the other side of the ball, Penn State’s defense had never stopped the opposing offense from scoring on the opening drive. They also broke that streak, forcing a turnover on downs on Michigan’s opening drive.
A key to Penn State having success this season was Sean Clifford performing well. Up until this game, he has failed to do so. Which was a big part of Penn State’s porous start to the season. However, this game was promising for Sean Clifford. In the passing game he was serviceable. He extended plays, kept himself safe from sacks, and had no turnovers. But the story of the game was his ability to extend drives with his legs. He had nine rushes for 73 yards and a touchdown. A few of those runs came in key situations, notably his 29-yard rushing touchdown.
Journey Brown and Noah Cain’s absences have been glaring this season. The lack of a consistent running attack has hurt Penn State’s offense. However, Penn State may have found a good replacement in Keyvone Lee. The true freshman has had growing pains, but has shown promise. His best game came this afternoon against Michigan. Lee rushed for 134 on 22 attempts and scored Penn State’s first touchdown. That’s the career high in attempts and rushing for Lee. The balance of a good running and passing attack allowed Penn State to play complementary football, ultimately leading them to the win.
Meanwhile Michigan’s nightmare season continues. They still struggle to get going on offense, and it starts with coaching. Penn State got a break with the difficulties at QB for Michigan. Redshirt freshman Cade McNamara made his first start, but got nicked up early. McNamara missed two drives, but struggled when he returned. He completed just 12-25 passes for 91 yards. However, Penn State’s defense didn’t make it easy on Michigan. Penn State’s defense had multiple pass breakups, they limited the big plays, and overall had a good outing.
Complementary football is the way you win games in football. And that is what won Penn State this football game. Many argued the historic bad start for Penn State could set the team back, but a good end to a rocky season could right the ship. #WeAre