CLOSING

Michigan DL Kwity Paye and OL Cesar Ruiz explain what went right and wrong in a 28-21 loss to Penn State on Saturday, October 19, 2019.
Orion Sang, Detroit Free Press

UNIVERSITY PARK, Market – About Michigan football everything was fine.

Chance to complete an incredible comeback. He hopes to keep his Big Ten title alive. To defeat a top 10 team on the road and dispel the idea you can't win in these situations.

All the Wolverines had to do was play another game in the biggest situation, subject to the greatest tension.

And for a brief moment they seemed to have.

Then the ball hits the grass.

[ U-M cursed by the football gods again after tempting fate vs. Penn State ]

Michigan was one catch with 3 yards on fourth and a goal to give you a chance to win on Saturday then. 7 Penn State, a game where the Wolverines dug an early hole with 21 points. If Ronnie Bell, who played for U-M this season, had pinned this pass, the Wolverines could have tied the game with PAT. They would have all the impetus in front of a nervous and subdued crowd. Profit would suddenly be very possible.

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After losing 28-21, Jim Harbaugh praised the character of his team. He was proud of how the Werewolves struggled with early deficits.

They certainly stepped forward in the second half on Saturday. They fought hard and proved they had enough talent to hang out with the top 10 in a hostile environment. They were on the wrong end of some calls and no calls.

More: U-M drops to No. 20 in USA TODAY coaching poll; Notre Dame to No. 7

All of this is true.

But so it is: If Michigan had played the entire match the way it did in the second half, it would have celebrated a defining road victory.

Therefore, for U-M fans, Saturday's result should be encouraging, but at the same time disappointing.

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh disputes first-half call against Penn State through State College , Pa., Saturday, October 19, 2019. (Photo: Gene J. Puskar, AP)

In the last two quarters (and even at the end of the first half), the Wolverines have done a lot to win the game. The offense gained yards and collected three quality drives to complete the game. The defense was solid, forcing five straight stunts, mostly limiting Penn State's offense, other than a 53-yard catch by interceptor KJ Hamler.

There were several "what's going to happen" games. The missed push of Bell in the end zone. Hamler's arrest, in which Harbaugh said the defense had not received the right call. A 1-yard run on third-and-4 from the 50 that completed a promising six-game, 40-meter drive.

Stock clock: Shea Patterson plays the best game of the season

Michigan plays winning football in the second half.

It certainly didn't happen in the first half.

The first two quarters were characterized by mistakes known to anyone who follows this team. On the first play of the game, the Wolverines were forced to burn out timeouts. The receivers missed five passes in the first half. There were four penalties, including three offline calls. The Special Teams department has made several mistakes and is constantly losing ground.

"They did nothing," said ambassador Halek Hudson. "Not that they outsmarted us or anything. I feel that only our mistakes have been made. Things we know how to do and we just got confused. "

Mistakes added. Penn State connected with two consecutive shots to score first, completing 37 yards followed by a 17-yard touchdown drive. Wildcat's unsuccessful run on third-and-3 put the Wolverines in a fourth-down situation they couldn't convert in. The next game, Ricky Slade (who had 28 carries for 59 yards entering the game) exploded an average of 44 yards, creating a touchdown, facilitated by two offensive penalties in Michigan 5.

Topper: 25-yard slot fades to Hamler, who gave Penn State a 21-point lead

Pen Jacan State Security Brisker hits Michigan receiver Ronnie Bell on the frontiers in the first quarter of Beaver Stadium, October 19, 2019. (Photo: Rich Barnes, USA Today Sports)

"We gave up some key explosions at the beginning, and bring it back to hurt us, "said striker Cam McGrone. "A game like this, with a team so good that we can't allow any explosive games. We did that. "

It was not entirely the fault of the defense. The offense failed to support Shea Patterson's strong play and only scored once before halftime.

U-M Degrees: Great start, but an improvement in the second half

But the Werewolves eventually responded. Defense dropped. The offense collected eight games, a 75-yard field goal, which was the start of a 21-7 run to end the game.

That was almost enough.

There is no such thing as moral victories and this once promising season is near lost.

The crime has taken a step forward and shown some potential against high-ranking protection. There are things the Wolverines can take from the second half and upgrade. At least, they seem to be closer to finding themselves as a unit than they were a month ago when they lost in Wisconsin, 35-14, and said things were close to clicking.

Defensive play is much better after this debacle and limited Penn State to only 283 yards.

Michigan could use Saturday's loss to become a much improved team for the rest of the season.

(Photo by Rich Barnes, USA TODAY Sports)

The only problem is it may be too late. It will be difficult to win the Big Ten East, especially with how well Ohio State played and the possession of Pen State, who was making a big impact. The playoff is out of reach.

As in 2017, when the Werewolves suffered a 42-13 loss to Beaver Stadium, their season is now on the brink thanks to Penn State.

Different is the way this team and this season got to this point.

But the result is still the same.

Just not enough.

Contact Orion Sang at osang@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @orion_sang . Read more about Michigan Wolverines and sign up for our Wolverines Newsletter.

CLOSE

Jim Harbaugh says Michigan has shown great character and "really fought hard" in a 28-21 loss at Penn State, October 19, 2019 at Park University, Dad.
Orion Sang, Detroit Free Press