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Game Day October 21, 2017 Michigan vs Penn State Football

Posted on October 21, 2017 by Barry Gallagher

Today is the twenty-first chapter in the Michigan vs Penn State football tradition. The teams have not played a lot over the years, but when they do it is usually a battle. This year’s contest is HUGE for both teams. Yes, there is a lot on the line tonight. It’s time to take a closer look at a Michigan’s history on this day. Then, we will zero in on the details of this very, very, very BIG game.

Calendar History:

The Michigan Wolverines have played a total of eighteen games on October 21st. So far, Michigan’s record on this date is 16 wins, 2 losses and 0 ties. That’s an impressive  winning rate of just over under eighty-nine percent (.888). However, they’re even better in conference play on this day. Check out the numbers below:

Type Game # of Games Won Lost Tied Win %
Non-Conference 6 5 1 0 .833
Conference 12 11 1 0 .917
All Games 18 16 2 0 .888

The Wolverines have played eleven home games on this date and seven road games. Their home record is 10 wins, 1 loss and 0 ties. Michigan’s road record on October 21st is equally impressive since their only loss was on October 21, 1893. (Yes, you read it right!) Michigan is on a five-game road winning streak on this day in Wolverine Football history. They have won 5 games and lost only once when playing on the road. The numbers on this page absolutely make October 21st a great day for Michigan Football! Yes, history is definitely on the side of the Maize and Blue today!

A Closer Look at October 21st:

  • Michigan’s first game on this date took place in 1893. The Wolverines traveled to Chicago to play the Maroons. It was a long trip home since the Wolverines lost by a score of 6-10.
  • The Wolverines won their first game on this date in 1894 against Michigan Military Academy (40-6).
  • Michigan’s biggest win on this date was an 88-0 victory over Ferris Institute in 1903. Their biggest conference win was an 85-0 blowout over Chicago in 1939.
  • The biggest loss/conference loss on this date took place against Indiana on Homecoming Day in 1967. Michigan lost to the Hoosiers by a score of 20-27.
  • Michigan won the last game they played on this date against Iowa in 2006. The second ranked Wolverines defeated the Hawkeyes by a score of 20-6 in Ann Arbor.

Notable Wolverine Performances on October 21st:

  • 1939 – Tom Harmon rushes 7 times for 127 yards in an 85-0 rout of Chicago.
  • 1961 – Bennie McRae totals 383 all-purpose yards of offense in a 16-14 Homecoming win over Purdue.
  • 1967 – John Gabler grabs 10 passes for 101 yards in a 20-27 home loss to Indiana.
  • 1972 – Chuck Heater runs 28 times for 141 yards. Gil Chapman scores on a 73-yard punt return. Michigan wins 31-7 at Illinois.
  • 1995 – Amani Toomer takes a punt return 56 yards for a touchdown at Indiana. Michigan wins 34-17.
  • 2000 – Anthony Thomas blasts over, around and through the Spartan defense for 175 yards. Wolverines win 14-0 in Ann Arbor.

Series History: Today’s game is the twentieth game in the fairly new Michigan vs Penn State football rivalry. This is the first time that these Big Ten rivals have played on the 21st day of October. Check out the series numbers below:

Type Game # of Games Won Lost Tied Win %
UM Home 10 7 3 0 .700
UM Away 10 6 4 0 .600
Neutral Site 0 0 0 0 .000
Series Total 20 13 7 0 .650

Once again, history is definitely on Michigan’s side in this series, even when the game is played in Happy Valley. I like the fact that we have won sixty-percent of our road games against the Nittany Lions.

Here is a little more information about the Michigan vs Penn State football series so far:

  • Michigan’s first game against Penn State took place on October 16, 1993. The eighteenth ranked Wolverines traveled to Happy Valley to take on the seventh ranked Nittany Lions. Gary Moeller’s footballers had a great trip home since they won by a score of 21-13.
  • The Wolverines took their first series loss the next year in Ann Arbor. Penn State won by a touchdown (24-31).
  • Michigan’s biggest win came on “Judgement Day” in 1997. Lloyd Carr’s fourth ranked “mountain climbers” came to play #3 Penn State. Wham! Bam! Thud! The Wolverines knocked the Lions off the mountain and gave Joe Paterno his worst loss ever! Michigan’s decisive 34-8 win pushed them to the top spot in the polls the following week. It was a HUGE win for the Wolverines!
  • The biggest loss on this date happened when Rich Rodriguez made his first trip to Penn State. His Wolverines were embarrassed by a score of 17-46. Ouch!
  • Michigan won the last game they played at Penn State in 2015. Jim Harbaugh’s team was ready and left with a 28-16 victory.
Chris Howard Michigan Football 1997 | bigbluefootballhistory.com

Chris Howard pounded out 120 tough yards and scored one touchdown against Penn State in 1997. #4 Michigan gave #3 Penn State the worst defeat of the Joe Paterno Era! Go Blue! Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library at The University of Michigan.

Notable Wolverine Performances Michigan vs Penn State Football.

In addition to thirteen wins over the Lions, Michigan players have had some outstanding performances against the Blue and White. Here are some notable Wolverine performances against Penn State in Beaver Stadium:

1)      10-16-1993 – Derrick Alexander scores on a 48-yard punt return. Tyrone Wheatley pounds PSU with 32 carries for 192 yards. Michigan wins 21-13.

2)     11-08-1997 –  Chris Howard pounds the Lion defense for 120 yards on 22 carries. He ran for 1 touchdown and caught 4 passes for 41 yards. Michigan won the Judgement Day showdown in a 34-8 rout!

3)      11-13-1999 – David Terrell grabs 6 balls for 133 yards. Tom Brady completes 17 of 36 passes for 259 yards. James Whitley breaks up 5 passes on defense. Michigan wins 31-27.

4)      10-30-2010 – Denard Robinson rolls for 191 yards on 27 carries, but Michigan falls 31-41.

5)      11-21-2015 – Jake Ruddock completed 25 of 38 passes for 256 yards. Michigan wins 28-16.

So, some of Michigan’s greatest players have stepped up against Penn State. Obviously, some of our young Wolverines will have to have BIG games if they expect to defeat Penn State tonight. Who will it be?

Michigan vs #2 Ranked Teams.

I thought it would be good to look at this game from one more angle. Michigan has played a total of 16 games against #2 ranked teams. So far, the results are not good. Michigan owns a record of 3 wins and 13 losses when matched up against a second ranked team. The Wolverines only have one victory at home in eight games against #2 ranked teams. They are a little better on the road. Michigan has a record of 2 wins and 5 losses in #2 road games. Yes, the bad news is that the Wolverines have had trouble playing teams close to the top of the rankings. Of course, the last game against a #2 ranked team was at OSU. J.T. was short and we lost in overtime. Ugh! Hopefully, they can change that tonight!

Today. Michigan is the underdog today, that’s for sure. Penn State deserves to be where they are after six games. Michigan is lucky to be where they are after posting a record of 5 wins and 1 loss. I think there are a lot of similarities between this game and the first game in 1993. On paper, Penn State is the better team. The good news for Michigan fans is that Penn State has not faced a defense as good as Michigan’s. As usual, Don Brown’s “hitters” will keep Michigan in the game. However, Penn State’s defense has the edge over Michigan’s under-performing and inconsistent offense. I’ll give Michigan the edge on special teams. The Wolverines can definitely win this game, but the offense will have to show some balance and the “stupid” penalties must end. Jim Harbaugh still does not own a “signature” win against a highly ranked opponent. Hopefully, tonight is the night!

My Prediction:

Michigan has a total of ten trips to Happy Valley since 1994. So far, Michigan has played pretty well at Penn State. Tonight’s game will provide the stiffest challenge that Michigan has faced this season. The Nittany Lions are for real and they really, really want to avenge their loss to Michigan last year. They have been preparing for this game for two weeks and should be READY for the Wolverines. Michigan’s defense will keep them in the game, but I don’t think the offense will do enough to earn a win today. The Wolverines have an outstanding record on this day in their football history, but it takes a “hit” today. Even though my Maize and Blue heart is hoping for an upset, my head says NO! I hate to say it, but Michigan comes up short in a hard-fought game – final score will read 24-13 in favor of Penn State! Ugh!


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