Michigan 21 Penn State 17 – Game 10 Recap



Final Score: 21-17, Michigan by 4 over Penn State
SP+ Projection: Michigan by 1.8 (+2.2)
CD Projection: Michigan by 6 (-2)


GAME 10 RECAP @ Penn State

Michigan did not play their best game of the season, but managed to claim their biggest victory to date, 21-17 over the Penn State Nittany Lions. In baseball, you can compliment a pitcher after a similar performance when he is able to get a win without his “best stuff”. I would say this game serves the same purpose for me. I think even higher of this 2021 Michigan Football team because they were able to win a big game, in a legit road atmosphere, even though the Wolverines had to fight some headwind.

Offensively, the Wolverines were led by all-world running back Hassan Haskins. Haskins carried the ball 31 times for 156 yards (5.0 ypc). He added 5 catches for another 45 yards also.

While H2 was doing a lot of heavy lifting on the ground, the Five Factors metrics point to a less successful day than Michigan has been accustomed to this year. Michigan only managed a 38% Success Rate on run plays. This is just the 2nd time in 2021 that the average Expected Points Added (EPA) on run plays was below zero.

One main reason for this was a stuffed run attempt on 4th & 2 in the 2nd quarter. That turnover on downs was worth -4.150 EPA. The remaining run plays averaged an EPA of +0.074.

Again, Cade McNamara showed his poise and leadership in big moments for the Michigan offense. All 3 touchdowns came via the pass. McNamara was 19-of-29 (65.5%) for 217 yards to go with the 3 TDs.

In stark contrast to the called run plays, the Wolverines averaged an EPA of +0.342 on called pass plays. Erick All collected his first career touchdown reception, and it was an even he’ll never forget. All snatched McNamara’s pass on a shallow crossing route and outran the PSU defense 47 yards to the end zone for the go-ahead score in the 4th quarter.

This game was another major test for 1st year defensive coordinator Mike MacDonald. No passing tandem that Michigan has faced to this point is more dangerous than Penn State’s WR Jahan Dotson and QB Sean Clifford.

Heading into the game, many local & national pundits were still reticent to place their confidence in U-M’s secondary. The Wolverines kept a lid on Dotson, allowing 9 catches, but only 61 yards. Sean Clifford finished 23-for-43 (53.5%) for 205 yards and 1 touchdown.

Clifford’s stat line looks very pedestrian, but appeared heroic if you were able to watch the game. Michigan tallied 7 total sacks, and 4 additional hurries. Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo were absolutely impossible to block, again.

This week was also the first time Michigan did not overwhelmingly dominate the special teams phase of the game. That is more a compliment to Penn State than an indictment of the Wolverines. Jake Moody converted 3 PATs, and Brad Robbins averaged 52.4 yards per punt. PSU’s punter/kicker Jordan Stout was also booming punts, averaging 51.0 yards per kick. However, Stout did miss a 42-yard FG attempt in the 3rd quarter.

This was another shining example of Michigan playing complementary football where all 3 phases of the game were picking each other up. The Wolverines will continue to work on converting short yardage opportunities on offense, and the defense has two monster passing attacks coming next. Michigan can still improve a good amount, but this team is capable of playing championship football. Onward!

About Clint Derringer

@clint_derringer on Twitter U-M B.A. Sport Management & Communications ‘05 U-M M.S. Program & Project Management ‘18

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