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5 Reasons Why the Penn State Nittany Lions Upset the Michigan Wolverines

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5 Factors That Contributed to Penn State's Upset of Michigan

Matthew OHaren - USA Today Sports

The Michigan Wolverines traveled to State College on Saturday looking for a win over the Penn State Nittany Lions to keep their undefeated season intact.

They were involved in a four-overtime thriller with the Nittany Lions that went back and forth and eventually ended up in a win for the Nittany Lions, giving the Wolverines their first loss of the season.

It was nothing new for the Wolverines. Having to earn wins back from teams they should beat has practically become a routine for the Wolverines this season. The difference is this time they just couldn’t pull out the win.

The question is how were the Nittany Lions able to upset the Wolverines?

It could be any number of things. Is it the fact that the Nittany Lions are just that good or did the Wolverines finally shoot themselves in the foot with all the mistakes they tend to make?

It has to be all of Michigan’s mistakes.

The turnover problem that the Wolverines have had this season has gotten them into trouble more than once by putting them into close games with teams they should’ve beaten. The Wolverines’ turnover-prone quarterback Devin Gardner can barely go a game without a turnover. The Penn State game was nothing new, though he did have a good game aside from the turnovers.

The Wolverines have not yet established their running game. Gardner is their running game, so they are putting a lot on his shoulders by depending on him to be their running and passing game. Could that have something to do with it?

It could be any number of things. Michigan has made plenty of mistakes over the course of the season that could’ve resulted in a loss, and those mistakes have finally caught up with them.

What mistakes and other factors may have contributed to their loss to the Nittany Lions?

Jenna Aquino is a Big Ten Football writer for Follow her on Twitter, “Like” her on Facebook, or add her to your network on Google.

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5. The Energy in Beaver Stadium

Matthew OHaren - USA Today Sports

No matter who they are playing or what their record is, you can always count on Penn State fans to make sure that stadium is plenty loud. Their excitement and energy bring some energy to a Penn State team that’s going through a rough time and has nothing to lose, thanks to their NCAA sanctions. You can’t say the Penn State fans didn’t have anything to do with this win over Michigan.

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4. Turnover-Prone Devin Gardner

David Butler II - USA Today Sports

Last week’s win over the Minnesota Golden Gophers was Gardner’s first turnover-free game in nine starts. He had a total of seven turnovers in the two games before that. Gardner’s tendency for turnovers was back in this game against Penn State as he had two interceptions and a lost fumble. He played great besides that.

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3. Michigan’s Dependence on Devin Gardner

Matthew OHaren - USA Today Sports

Michigan depends too much on Gardner. Granted, he is a mobile quarterback and will contribute in both the running and passing game, but taking control of both aspects of the offense should not fall squarely on his shoulders. He has been Michigan’s running and passing game lately. He was 15-for-28 with 240 yards and three touchdowns and had 121 yards rushing against Penn State. That’s a lot for one player to handle. Michigan’s running game needs to get going.

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2. Michigan’s Lack of a Running Game

Rick Osentoski - USA Today Sports

Michigan does not have much of a running game, and it cost them dearly on Saturday. Gardner is their running game, and it should not be that way. The rest of the running game needs to get going and take some pressure off of him. Gardner ran for 121 of their 149 rushing yards against Penn State. That means the rest of the running game had less than 30 yards rushing. Running back Fitzgerald Toussaint is not playing up to his potential and only ran for 27 yards in this game. He can be dangerous if he gets in his groove, and that’s exactly what Michigan needs him to do.

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1. Christian Hackenberg

Matthew OHaren - USA Today Sports

Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg made himself look like more than just a true freshman by staging a Nittany Lion comeback in the fourth quarter that sent the game into overtime. They had the ball at their own 20-yard line with 50 seconds left, and Hackenberg then hit the biggest pass of his career. He completed a 36-yard pass to receiver Allen Robinson that set up a one-yard score by Hackenberg to tie the game and force overtime. Hackenberg was impressive, and had the Wolverine defense been able to stop him on that last drive, the outcome of this game would’ve been totally different. We would not be talking about a four overtime thriller that resulted in a Penn State win. Instead, we would be talking about how Michigan somehow pulled out another win.

Related links: Michigan Wolverines Still Need to Work on Their Running Game