Michigan football puts ‘easy schedule’ talks to rest with dismantling of Penn State

Wolverines dominate top-10 battle, 41-17

Donovan Edwards #7 of the Michigan Wolverines runs in for a touchdown in the second half of a game against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Michigan Stadium on October 15, 2022 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. (Mike Mulholland, 2022 Getty Images)

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – For the first half of the college football season, the only thing anybody wanted to say about Michigan was that it had an easy schedule. But after a thorough and convincing beatdown of No. 10 Penn State, the Wolverines should start getting some of the respect they deserve.

The first two weeks of Big Ten play pitted Michigan against an underrated Maryland team and one of the best defenses in the country at Iowa. But those were just appetizers leading up to this week’s main course: A matchup between two undefeated, top-10 teams.

Well, from a competitive standpoint, Saturday’s game fell short of the hype. Michigan embarrassed Penn State, gaining 563 yards to just 268 for the Nittany Lions. The Wolverines gained 418 yards on the ground and possessed the ball for an inconceivable 41 minutes and 56 seconds.

Mike Morris #90 of the Michigan Wolverines reacts after a Michigan defensive stop during the first half of a college football game against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Michigan Stadium on October 15, 2022 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. (2022 Getty Images)

Sean Clifford, a sixth-year senior and fourth-year starter who’s seen everything you can throw at a Big Ten quarterback, looked totally overwhelmed by the Michigan defense. He completed just seven of 19 passes for 120 yards.

Penn State’s fantastic freshman running back duo combined for 35 yards on 12 carries. Meanwhile, Heisman Trophy candidate Blake Corum’s 166-yard, two-touchdown performance was overshadowed by Donovan Edwards picking up 173 yards and two scores on just 16 carries.

For a team that lost to last year’s Big Ten champions by just four points, Penn State was unrecognizable. Michigan never punted, scoring on eight of nine possessions, with the lone exception being a 33-yard drive into Penn State territory that ended with an interception off of a Nittany Lion helmet.

J.J. McCarthy wasn’t at his best, but he still completed 17 of 24 attempts for 145 yards and added 57 critical rushing yards. Even with the pick-six, he was clearly the best quarterback in the Big House on Saturday.

Penn State players felt lucky to be down just two points at halftime. But by the end of the game, they were trying to figure out what hit them. The 41-17 final score didn’t even do this beatdown justice -- Michigan easily could have won by 50 points.

Today, as the college football world looks back on this weekend’s action, the main topics will be Tennessee upsetting Alabama or Notre Dame losing to Stanford. Nobody wants to talk about Jim Harbaugh’s team because, well, it just isn’t flashy.

Blake Corum #2 of the Michigan Wolverines runs with the ball during the second half of a college football game against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Michigan Stadium on October 15, 2022 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The Michigan Wolverines won the game 41-17 over the Penn State Nittany Lions. (2022 Getty Images)

There’s always some other flavor of the week in this sport. For the first month, everyone was enamored with Kansas being undefeated and Sun Belt teams who upset the likes of Texas A&M and Notre Dame. Then, the Belle of the ball was Lincoln Riley’s electric USC Trojans and the surprising unbeaten teams like TCU, UCLA, and Syracuse.

Meanwhile, Michigan is happy to just lie in the weeds, picking up win after win. The first few weeks were cupcakes, but there are plenty of top 25 teams that would have lost to Maryland or dropped one of the road games against Iowa and Indiana. And very few could treat James Franklin’s crew as rudely as Michigan did.

Georgia, Ohio State, and Tennessee have earned their spots at the top of the rankings, but the perception of Michigan as “unproven” or untested” is dead and buried. The Wolverines are once again among the best teams in the sport -- they proved that loud and clear.

About the Author:

Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.