ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Sean Clifford threw for 163 yards and scored one of Penn State’s three rushing touchdowns, and the Nittany Lions finally broke their winless skid to start the season, beating Michigan 27-17 on Saturday.
Keyvone Lee and Will Levis also ran for TDs, and Penn State (1-5, 1-5 Big Ten) never trailed in this matchup of proud programs that have struggled mightily in this pandemic-shortened season. Hassan Haskins ran for 101 yards and two touchdowns for Michigan, but the Wolverines (2-4, 2-4) never found much of a consistent rhythm offensively.
It was the 899th victory for the Penn State program, and the Nittany Lions had to wait a while for this one. This was the first time they’d started a season 0-5, but three impressive touchdown drives were enough to hold off Michigan.
Penn State led 20-17 in the fourth quarter before a 12-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a 2-yard scoring run by Levis.
Cade McNamara, who came off the bench to guide Michigan to an overtime win at Rutgers last weekend, was off target for much of this game. He went 12 of 25 for 91 yards.
Penn State marched 75 yards in 10 plays on the game’s first drive, taking a 7-0 lead on a 6-yard run by Lee. That was about as smooth as it got for either offense, however.
Haskins broke free for a 59-yard run later in the first quarter, and he eventually scored from 2 yards out to tie the game.
Clifford was shaken up briefly in the first half, but after returning to the game he broke free for a 28-yard touchdown run to put the Nittany Lions back on top. A muffed punt gave Penn State a field goal just before halftime.
Michigan closed within three when Haskins scored on a 2-yard run with 13:12 remaining, but the Wolverines couldn’t keep Penn State out of the end zone on the ensuing drive.
Penn State: This season went south for the Nittany Lions a while ago, but this was a solid effort. They’ve had to go deep into their depth chart at running back, but Lee ran for 134 yards in an impressive showing. The only major problem for Penn State was some bad penalties that helped Michigan hang around.
Michigan: McNamara and Joe Milton both played at quarterback, and neither could get anything going. The Wolverines were outplayed pretty much start to finish by a previously winless opponent.
Penn State is scheduled to play at Rutgers next weekend. Michigan hosts Maryland.