ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) – De’Veon Smith led an overwhelming ground game with 107 yards rushing and a touchdown and Karan Higdon ran for two scores and No. 4 Michigan routed Penn State 49-10 on Saturday in both teams’ Big Ten opener.
The Wolverines scored six touchdowns on the ground as they finished with 326 yards rushing. Wilton Speight threw one touchdown pass.
Michigan (4-0) dominated both sides of the ball. Penn State (2-2) has lost three straight to the Wolverines.
Jabrill Peppers gave the fans an early thrill by returning Penn State’s first punt to the 9, although a bench-interference penalty moved the ball to the Nittany Lions 24. Seven plays later, Khalid Hill dove in on 4th-and-goal from the 1.
The Wolverines also scored touchdowns on their next two drives. Penn State finally got a couple stops, but the Wolverines took a 28-0 halftime lead on Higdon’s 2-yard run.
The Nittany Lions got on the board with a field goal early in the third, but Chris Evans made it 35-3 with a 3-yard run and the Wolverines cruised to the win.
PENN STATE: The Nittany Lions came into the Big House without any of their starting linebackers then lost Brandon Smith to a second-quarter targeting penalty. That left the Penn State defense helpless against Michigan’s running game and short passes. The offense was even worse, putting up 50 yards in the first half. Saquon Barkley had 19 yards rushing and caught two passes for 47 yards, but the rest of the team combined for minus-16.
MICHIGAN: The Wolverines dominated in the trenches, with their defensive line continuously overrunning Penn State’s offensive line. They registered five sacks while building their first-half lead and Speight had all the time he needed.
MICHIGAN: The Wolverines came in at No. 4 and there seems little chance that will change much with No. 1 Alabama winning earlier in the day in a blowout and No. 2 Ohio State on a bye.
PENN STATE: Returns to Happy Valley for the first of three straight home games. The Nittany Lions face Minnesota next Saturday in the Golden Gophers’ first trip to Penn State since 2009.
MICHIGAN: Plays its fifth-straight game at the Big House to open the season, but will have a tougher test against Wisconsin. The 11th-ranked Badgers routed No. 8 Michigan State 30-6 in East Lansing.
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