Penn State looked dead in the water for 45 minutes Saturday afternoon. Its defense was keeping it squarely in the mix — as the unit has so often this season — but the Nittany Lions' offense had only mustered a pair of field goals.
Then, everything started to swing the Blue and White's way. A long-awaited touchdown drive followed by a fumble recovery deep in Michigan territory enabled Penn State to pull back in front.
That ended up being the Lions' lone moment of glory, as the Wolverines retook the lead on their ensuing possession and didn't let it go.
We'll have much more on this game in the next few days, but for now, here are the three biggest takeaways from Penn State's 21-17 loss.
wolverines' pass rush dominates
A big part of Penn State's offensive implosion Saturday was its inability to contain Michigan's Aidan Hutchinson and David Ajabo. The duo was finally neutralized on Penn State's game-tying drive, but by then they had already done their fair share of damage.
The pair feasted, combining for five of the Wolverines' seven sacks on the day. The Nittany Lions had trouble putting together a consistent pass rush of their own, although Arnold Ebiketie did have two sacks — the second forcing the Cade McNamara fumble.
Haskins heats up
Hassan Haskins didn't do much early on, but he got stronger as the game wore on. The Wolverines' star back finished with 156 yards on 31 carries, shouldering the brunt of the load with Blake Corum, the other half of Michigan's dynamic duo, out of the picture with an injury. The rest of the Wolverines ran for a combined -10 yards on 10 carries.
lee gives lions spark
Apparently, Keyvone Lee saves his best for Michigan. After a 134-yard breakout game against the Wolverines in 2020, he finished with a solid performance once more against the maize and blue Saturday.
At long last, Penn State had someone emerge in the run game, and while it wasn't a record stat line by any means, the sophomore took on would-be tacklers to move the chains a number of times.
Expect Lee to receive the bulk of the Nittany Lions' carries down the stretch — or maybe don't expect anything, because you really never know with this coaching staff.
Penn State has lost four of its last five, spiraling as the regular season comes to a close. Unfortunately for the Nittany Lions, the schedule ends with a better-than-usual Rutgers squad and a visit to Top-10 Michigan State.