By Peter Gleason
No. 5 Michigan didn’t just beat No. 14 Penn State yesterday in Ann Arbor.
They beat the hell out of the Nots..
They were routed last season in State College and they were out for revenge.
They got it.
Shea Patterson accounted for three touchdowns and the Wolverines ran Penn State off the field 42-7.
The Wolverines (8-1, 6-0 Big Ten, No. 5 CFP) moved a step closer toward their goals of winning a conference championship for the first time since 2004 and earning their first spot in the College Football Playoff.
“We’re the team to beat in the Big Ten,” proclaimed defensive end Chase Winovich , who has said the team is on a revenge tour to beat the four conference teams it lost to last season. “That’s not a controversial statement. It’s just, I think, that’s a fact at this point.”
The Nittany Lions (6-3, 3-3, No. 14 CFP) scored with 1:59 left, avoiding getting shut out for the first time since 2001 against Michigan.
“Defensively, they kicked our butts,” coach James Franklin said.
Jim Harbaugh did what he could to prevent Penn State from scoring at all, challenging a call on its last drive and calling timeout twice.
Michigan, clearly, was motivated to beat the Nittany Lions after they won 42-13 last year and tried to score a touchdown on its last play.
“It was personal right from the start,” Karan Higdon said.
Higdon ran for 132 yards and a score that put the Wolverines up 35-0 early in the fourth quarter. He has run for 100-plus yards in seven straight games, one shy of the school record set by Mike Hart in 2007.
“I think it’s time for him to get nominated for some big-time awards,” Patterson said.
Michigan’s defense held Penn State to 186 yards and forced three turnovers, including Tommy Stevens’ interception that was returned 62 yards by Brandon Watson for its second score in the final minute of the third quarter. It was Watson’s second pick-6 of the season, joining Lance Dottin (1991) as the only players to do that twice in a year.
The Nittany Lions started banged-up quarterback Trace McSorley and he was 5 of 13 for 83 yards with an interception and a fumble. McSorley played with an injured right knee in last week’s win against Iowa. He shared time and rotated with Stevens, who was 3 of 4 for 35 yards. Stevens scored on an 8-yard run late in the game.
“When (Stevens) threw the interception there, we felt like we needed to put Trace back in,” Franklin said. “Obviously, you make the decision and you probably could’ve made the change a little bit earlier. The way they were pressuring us and loading the box, having the ball with Trace’s mobility was critical.”
Patterson was 11 of 17 for 144 yards with two touchdown passes, a 23-yard throw to Donovan Peoples-Jones in the second quarter and a 7-yard strike to Zach Gentry. He ran 11 times, often on read-option plays , for 42 yards, including a 1-yard TD midway through the first quarter.
“With Shea, they’ve added another element to their package, getting on the perimeter,” Franklin said.