STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Cade McNamara threw a 47-yard touchdown pass to tight end Erick All with 3:29 left and No. 9 Michigan stayed in the Big Ten championship race, rallying past tricky No. 23 Penn State 21-17 on Saturday.
McNamara completed 19 of 29 passes for 217 yards and three touchdowns to boost the Wolverines (9-1, 6-1 conference, No. 6 CFP).
Penn State (6-4, 3-4) tried a pair of trick plays from kick formation in the first quarter, with mixed results.
Quarterback Sean Clifford withstood seven sacks, completing 23 of 43 for 205 yards and throwing a touchdown pass to tight end Tyler Warren with 7:35 to go. Clifford then tied it 14 when he connected with Jahan Dotson for a two-point conversion.
The Nittany Lions then got the ball back on a strip-sack of McNamara by defensive end Arnold Ebiketie deep in Michigan territory. Jordan Stout kicked a 31-yard field goal with 5:55 left for a 17-14 lead.
Michigan’s winning drive started with five straight runs by Haskins for 28 yards to move to the Penn State 47, setting up All’s touchdown.
The Nittany Lions couldn’t move in their last chance and Clifford’s final pass fell incomplete.
Penn State gave up three sacks on its opening drive, but got a 42-yard field goal from Stout. Four plays earlier, Stout extended the possession with an 18-yard pass on a fake punt.
The Nittany Lions forced a three-and-out, but couldn’t fool the Wolverines with another fake kick. Stout was set to kick what would’ve been a 20-yard field goal on Penn State’s second possession, but instead swung wide and caught a pass from holder Raphael Checa.
Stout was hit hard by Vincent Gray and lost the ball, and a handful of Michigan defenders pounced on it.
One possession later, the Wolverines got their first first down of the game and turned it into a 15-play, 90-yard drive that ended when McNamara tossed a 21-yard touchdown pass to Wilson with 5:49 to play in the first half.
Michigan tried to convert a fourth-and-short from midfield on its next possession, but Haskins was stopped short. Stout’s 52-yard kick cut Michigan’s lead to 7-6 at halftime.
McNamara tossed a 1-yard touchdown pass to Wilson early in the third quater. Later in the period, Stout bounced a 43-yard field goal attempt off the right upright, keeping Michigan ahead 14-6.
Michigan: The Wolverines started slow, picked up the pace and got big contributions on the defensive side to keep their Big Ten championship hopes alive. Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo, particularly were consistently disruptive.
Penn State: The Nittany Lions continue to be dreadfully one-dimensional. Despite harping on it all week, they again failed to hit holes for big runs and averaged just 2.6 yards per yards per rush, Without any real push on ground, Clifford is having to do way too much, and his workload was even harder with all the Michigan defenders getting clean runs at him.
Michigan: Visits Maryland.
Penn State: Hosts Rutgers.