The No. 12 Michigan Wolverines defeated the Penn State Nittany Lions 28-16 at Beaver Stadium in Pennsylvania on Saturday to keep the Big Ten Conference championship game hopes alive for the Maize and Blue.
As ESPN describes, "The Spartans, Wolverines and Buckeyes are all 6-1 in the division, but Michigan State has beaten both and if it wins against Penn State next week, it will be in the title game. However, if the Nittany Lions pull off the upset, the winner of the annual Michigan-Ohio State rivalry would be in the title game."
Leading the way for the Wolverines (9-2, 6-1) was fifth-year senior quarterback Jake Rudock. The leader completed 25-of-38 passes for 256 yards and two touchdowns.
As for the Nittany Lions (7-4, 4-3), quarterback Christian Hackenberg was sacked four times, which caused him to struggle all Saturday afternoon. He finished 13-for-31, which was good for 137 yards and a score. Hackenberg did not throw and interception, while Rudock threw one.
Hackenberg was knocked out of the game on one of the sacks, which forced backup quarterback Trace McSorley into the game. He threw and incomplete passes, which prompted the return of Hackenberg.
After Tyler Davis made a field goal for Penn State, the Wolverines scored the first touchdown with 7:43 to play in the first quarter. Rudock found his teammate with the same first name, Jake Butt, for a 26-yard score to give Michigan a 7-3 lead.
Hackenberg responded with a 25-yard touchdown strike to Saeed Blacknall in the second quarter, but it was all Michigan the rest of the way.
With 51 seconds to play in the first half, Amara Darboh etched his name into the score sheet. Rudock completed the bubble-screen pass and let Darboh do the rest and find the end zone to give Michigan a 14-10 lead going into the locker room.
Leading the receiving game for Michigan was Jehu Chesson, Darboh and Butt. Chesson caught four passes for 69 yards, Darboh had seven receptions for 68 yards and Butt went for 66 yards on five catches from the arm of Rudock.
It was a defensive battle in the third quarter, but eventually there was a score. Sione Houma, the full back, pushed through a pile of Nittany Lions to score from one-yard and extend the Wolverine lead, 21-10.
Penn State made things interesting with back-to-back field goals from Davis in the fourth quarter to cut the Michigan lead to five points. As for the receivers, they were led by Chris Godwin with three receptions for 51 yards and one catch for 25 yards for Blacknail.
The run game, led by Saquon Barkley with 15 carries for 68 yards, was decent during the game, but the ball carriers were not able to score.
As usual, the Maize and Blue responded. From the one-yard line, De'Veon Smith entered the end zone with a big reach over the pile to push the Wolverines to a 28-16.
"Every time the momentum was shifting or about to shift, our offense responded with a big drive, touchdown drive," Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said.
Smith led the team with 13 carries for 39 yards, while Jabrill Peppers added five carries for 19 yards. Chesson took a jet sweep, his only carry, for 20 yards.
"My heart hurts for these seniors," Penn State coach James Franklin said. "Last time they'll play in Beaver Stadium and they're leaving not on a positive note."
Next Saturday, November 28, Michigan will battle Ohio State Buckeyes (10-1, 6-1) in Ann Arbor at 12:00 PM ET. Meanwhile, Penn State will head to East Lansing to play the Michigan State Spartans (10-1, 6-1) at 3:30 PM ET.