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Defense helps Michigan beat Penn State, stay unbeaten

STATE COLLEGE, Pa (AP) -- Rondell Biggs flew in off the edge for
one of Michigan's seven sacks, then flexed his biceps to celebrate
his mighty deed.

The good news for Michigan running back Mike Hart: He never has to face his own defense. It is fast becoming college football fact that the Wolverines' run defense is where tailbacks' Heisman hopes go to die. Michigan has yet to allow a 100-yard rusher (Penn State's Tony Hunt gave it the 'ole college try with 33), and, by holding the Nittany Lions to negative yards rushing, lowered its nation-leading numbers against the run (40 yards per game entering Saturday). Our sympathies to the backs of the Big Ten.

Player
Season avg.
vs. Mich.

Jackson-Garrison (Vandy)

65

2

Sneed (C. Mich.)

47

33

Walker (Notre Dame)

88

25

Hill (Wisc.)

141

54

Pinnix (Minn.)

92

91

Caulcrick (Mich. St.)

58

29

Hunt (Penn St.)

112

33

The Wolverines' defense provided plenty of muscle, Adrian
Arrington and Mike Hart each scored a touchdown and Michigan stayed
unbeaten with a 17-10 win on Saturday night.

"Our defense really showed that all year," Wolverines
quarterback Chad Henne said. "They played spectacular tonight and
they gave us the ball in favorable positions and sometimes we
didn't capitalize."

Henne was without one of his best weapons in big-play threat
Mario Manningham, who had knee surgery.

But on Saturday night, the defense grabbed the spotlight,
holding Penn State to 186 total yards. The Lions finished with
minus-14 rushing yards, with much of the negative yardage coming on
sacks

Michigan's front seven was too tough and fast for Penn State
(4-3, 2-2), getting into the backfield often to pressure or sack
Nittany Lions starting quarterback Anthony Morelli, who was knocked
out early in the third quarter after what appeared to be a
helmet-to-helmet hit from Alan Branch.

Backup Darryl Clark left the game too, looking groggy after
getting hit on a scramble. Yet, Michigan still got a late scare
after Tony Hunt turned a screen pass from third-stringer Paul
Cianciolo into a 43-yard touchdown, energizing a crowd eager to see
Penn State end its decade-long, seven-game losing streak to the
Wolverines (7-0, 4-0 Big Ten).

Michigan was forced to punt on its next drive, but Cianciolo ran
out of magic. A incomplete pass on fourth down sealed the victory
with a minute left.

A nice way for the Wolverines to head home to Ann Arbor to
prepare for Iowa at The Big House next weekend. Coach Lloyd Carr is
impressed with the way his team has handled the pressure of a Bowl
Championship Series-run.

"We have had an incredible stretch of games," Carr said.
"We've been through the gauntlet, I've admired the way they've
handled it. It really comes down to the leadership and the maturity
they have."

Branch, defensive end LaMarr Woodley and their fellow linemen
had a field day, holding the tough Hunt in check on the ground and
blanketing the Lions' fast receiving corps.

Seven Michigan defenders were in on sacks, led by Woodley's 2½
and two by Biggs.

"Those kids are very active, the linebackers are good," Penn
State coach Joe Paterno said about Michigan's "D." "I knew it
would be tough going in."

Paterno said after the game that Morelli had a concussion.

Penn State defense wasn't too bad, either, holding Henne to
15-of-30 for 196 yards.

With Manningham out, Arrington stepped up, slipping out of the
reach of freshman cornerback A.J. Wallace to grab a pass from Henne
down the left seam and run in the end zone for 25-yard touchdown to
give the Wolverines a 7-0 lead in the second quarter.

"We all knew we had to pick up his slack, that was big time
production missing this week," Arrington said. "We came out here
and executed pretty well. It was definitely the loudest stadium we
played in all year."

Hart's 1-yard touchdown run in the third quarter gave Michigan a
17-3 lead. Hart finished with 112 yards on 26 carries.

Henne returned to his native Pennsylvania first the time with
Michigan since spurning a verbal commitment to Penn State to sign
with the Wolverines coming out of high school three years ago -- not
a popular move with the Nittany Nation.

A loud, enthusiastic crowd appeared to give Henne problems often
as he tried to bark out plays on offense.

Morelli finished 11-of-18 for 133 yards. Hunt had 13 carries for
33 yards rushing, 78 below his season average, against Michigan's
top-ranked rush defense, but caught five balls for 85 yards.

"Their front guys are so physical and active," Hunt said.
"They are really tough."