Out For Revenge, Michigan Wanted To "Run Up" Score Against Penn State

They left no doubt in Saturday's blowout.

Will Burchfield
November 03, 2018 - 10:05 pm

They left no doubt in Saturday's blowout.

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Shea Patterson didn't take it on the chin against Penn State last year like so many of his Michigan teammates. Didn't matter. ​He still took it to heart, and wanted to exact revenge a year later. 

Mission accomplished in the Wolverines' 42-7 demolition of the Nittany Lions on Saturday night. 

"It was a great feeling," Patterson said. "I wasn’t a part of the team last year, I understood Penn State ran up the score. Our mindset was to just come out here and play the best game, and if we had the chance, we were going to run it up, too." 

Penn State kept their foot on the throttle throughout last year's 42-13 victory, to the point where they tried jam another touchdown down Michigan's throat rather than taking a knee in the dying seconds. For the Nittany Lions, this was in response to the Wolverines' 49-10 victory a year prior. 

Funny how things come full circle. 

Michigan went up 42-0 with two fourth-quarter touchdowns Saturday night before Penn State finally scored on its last drive of the game. Running back Karan Higdon, who finished with 132 yards and a touchdown in his seventh-straight 100-yard performance, deemed the game personal. Darn right it was personal. 

"It was intense. Guys were really into the game, as always, but this one was definitely personal. Knowing that they tried to score at the end of the game last year, I know our defense had a stud game tonight and when they got that touchdown they were pissed. That just shows you personal this game really was. We wanted to shut them out," Higdon said. 

The leader of that defense, Chase Winovich, set the tone by sacking Trace McSorely on the third play of the game. Josh Uche sacked him again the play after that. The Wolverines finished with five sacks, forced Penn State to pull McSorley for parts of the game, came up with three takeaways and held the Nittany Lions to just 186 yards of total offense. 

It was another dominant performance by the nation's top-ranked defense -- and a statement after being gashed for over 500 yards in last year's game, 131 of which came in the fourth quarter of a blowout. 

"They bullied us last year," Winovich said. "They ran the score up, there was five seconds left and they were laughing, it was a jolly time. We wanted our lunch money back. We wanted them to pay interest. The bank's closed on Sundays, but it looks like we’ve got some deposits to make." 

Quite the metaphor. Asked where it came from, Winovich said, "It was kind of, like, we didn't want to just beat them, we wanted to get after them. There's just a lot of frustration that's been built up the last couple of years with things not going the way we've wanted them."

For No. 14 Penn State, who certainly didn't look like the 14th-best team in the nation, Saturday was a humbling of the sort it hasn't received since...2016 at the Big House. The Nittany Lions have lost five games since that 49-10 drubbing by a combined 12 points. Their latest defeat was the third worst of the James Franklin era, which dates back to 2014. 

"I don’t know if Penn State gets beat like that too often," Patterson said. "We were firing on all cylinders tonight. Defense payed lights out, Karan was running the heck out of the ball, and we were making plays on offense and special teams, so it was a lot of fun." 

At the center of it all, as he has been all season, was Patterson. He threw two touchdowns and ran for another before he was lifted midway through the fourth quarter. On his final drive of the game, with the Wolverines up 28-0, he was still taking hits to gain extra yards. It was clear he wanted in on the payback. 

Asked how he tapped into that feeling without being a part of last year's team, Patterson, "I get it from the brotherhood that we have here. We’re so close to all these guys, and I think that’s why we're being really successful right now. Just to know that they did that to my brothers, I think it's just as personal. It gives me that much more motivation to get back at them." 

No one wanted to win Saturday more desperately than defensive coordinator Don Brown. His unit was embarrassed last year, and he said this week it stuck with him for the next 12 months that he didn't put his players in a position to succeed. His players knew that. They wanted to make it up to him just the same. 

Another mission accomplished. 

"I wanted to win this for Coach Brown," Winovich said, before quoting something he saw on Twitter. "It was our revenge, but it was his redemption." 

Speaking of revenge, the Winovich-dubbed Revenge Tour continues to gain steam. Michigan has now beaten three of the four Big Ten opponents it lost to last season, in consecutive games, no less. The fourth, Ohio State, lingers at the end of the line. 

Winovich wore a new Revenge Tour tee shirt to his post-game press conference, the front of it featuring a skeleton holding a grim reaper sword. 

"The revenge tour, for me, wasn’t necessarily some slogan," he explained. "It was just me putting a label on the feeling and the attitude that already existed on the team. It wasn't necessarily, like, 'We gotta beat these teams (in particular).' The revenge tour is just the grittiness and the fire and the things that I think were missing in years previous, mixed with legit talent." 

The Nittany Lions were the latest victims in its path, a year after rolling over Michigan themselves. 

Toward the end of Patterson's press conference, a reporter circled back to ask if the Wolverines really talked about running up the score if the opportunity arose. Patterson smiled, just as Hidgon next to him. 

"We were going to be aggressive," Patterson said. "That’s what it was."