They came angry.
They left angry from Happy Valley.
But the No. 3 Michigan Wolverines left angry with a victory Saturday, despite the fact their head coach wasn’t with them.
It didn’t matter that Jim Harbaugh was suspended for the oh-so pivotal tilt with the host and No. 10 Penn State Nittany Lions in State College — and for two more games to follow — by the Big Ten.
The Wolverines went in ticked and controlled the conference contest and came away after a 24-15 triumph that was accompanied by an emotional outpouring for their banned coach.
“I want to thank the Lord and Coach Harbaugh — @#$%, I love you, man,” Michigan assistant coach Sherrone Moore told Fox Sports post-game through a barrage of tears and curse words — including f-bombs — on a national broadcast. “Love the @#$% of you, man. This is for you, for this university, for the president, our (athletic director) …
“We’ve got the best players, the best university and the best alumni in the country,” continued Moore with huge emotion. “I love you guys. These @#$%ing guys right here, man. These guys right here. These guys did it. These guys did it. man.”
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After hearing of Harbaugh’s ban Saturday, QB J.J. McCarthy took to X — formerly Twitter — to back his boss by simply posting the word ‘Bet’. According to Sports Illustrated’s Frankie Taddeo in his understanding of today’s slang, “The word ‘bet’ is used when you’re in agreement with something, but often in a sarcastic, defiant tone.”
So McCarthy’s essentially telling the Big Ten, ‘Sure, whatever — it won’t stop us.’ A number of teammates followed suit.
And … well … the Wolverine’s biggest competition to date in this undefeated season couldn’t stop them Saturday.
“I expected nothing less from any of my Michigan men,” Wolverines running back Blake Corum told FOX Sports after his 26-carry, two-touchdown, 145-yard rushing performance — the most yards gained on the ground against Penn State this season. “We did this for Michigan, you know. What are you going to do when your backs are against the wall. When you feel everyone against you, what are you going to do? Are you going to cower down? I was taught to stand up all the time and keep playing and keep fighting, keep punching and keep going …
“I’m so proud of our university. I’m so proud of our guys and the coaches. Coach Harbaugh, this is for you.”
Harbaugh won’t get to appeal the Big Ten punishment until next Friday ahead of Michigan’s penultimate game of the regular season. Of course, the Wolverines’ season rides on their final game of the slate — against the No. 1 Ohio State Buckeyes on Nov. 21 in the Big House.
But Big Blue proved Saturday they are united with our without Harbaugh on the sideline.
“I’m just so proud of my guys, man,” added Corum. “We’re going to keep going. Everything that’s going on right now is just bringing us closer together. I love my team.”
SECOND & LONG
The win gives Michigan 999 all-time and makes the Wolverines the first team to reach 10 on the campaign … McCarthy looked good — Heisman Trophy good — for Michigan in the victory. His stats don’t reflect it — 7-of-8 for 60 passing yards and eight runs for 34 rushing yards — but his composure and timing to grind out first downs and marches was impeccable. Too bad he won’t — or shouldn’t — win the most outstanding player honour. Like it or not, McCarthy will feel the fallout from Heisman voters for this sign-stealing stuff … On the other hand, Penn State QB Drew Allar — just 19 — proved how inexperienced he is this big stage, going 10-of-22 for 70 passing yards and looking like absolutely no threat game-long to the Michigan defence. That said, PSU head coach James Franklin didn’t bring a whole lot of imagination to the gameplan and made his usual array of poor decisions … Following Harbaugh’s ban, plenty of venom came out from Michigan and supporters vilifying Big Ten commissioner Tony Petitti, especially for the timing of the ban just hours ahead of the big game. Really, it’s a lot of whining where it doesn’t belong, especially since they’re making themselves sound like victims in the wake of their own doing. To us, it looks very bad on them. So here’s a thought, Michigan — don’t cheat.
THIRD & GOAL
No. 8 Alabama (9-1) claimed its 10th SEC West in the Nick Saban era and a spot in the conference championship game against No. 2 Georgia with its 49-21 kick of host Kentucky (6-4). That makes Saban 19-2 against Kentucky all-time … Meanwhile late Saturday, Georgia (9-0) hosted No. 9 Ole Miss (8-1), with a 26-game win streak on the line, although Mississippi went in without a win over an AP Top 10 match-up in 60-plus years … The top team in the College Football Playoff Rankings also played late, as No. 1 Ohio State (9-0) hosted offensively challenged Michigan State (3-6) … Of other Top 5 teams: No. 4 Florida State (9-0) faced visiting Miami (6-3); and No. 5 Washington (9-0) hosted No. 18 Utah (7-2) … One other ranked-v-ranked game saw No. 13 Tennessee (7-2) visit No. 14 Missouri (7-2) … A 30-yard field-goal by Gino Garcia with just three seconds left smashed the Big 12 title dreams of No. 16 Kansas (7-3), as visiting Texas Tech (5-5) edged the host side 16-13 … A late fail on a two-point conversion by Tulsa (3-7) helped No. 23 Tulane (9-1) hold on to a 24-22 home-field victory.
FOURTH & INCHES
Plenty of later-Saturday activity also included: No. 6 Oregon (8-1) challenged by visiting USC (7-3); No. 7 Texas (8-1), with QB Quinn Ewers (shoulder) back starting after two weeks of being injured, visiting Big 12-rival TCU (4-5); No. 15 Oklahoma State (7-2) lining up against host UCF (4-5); No. 17 Oklahoma (7-2) hosting feisty West Virginia (6-3); No. 19 LSU (6-3) welcoming SEC-rival Florida (5-4); No. 21 Arizona (6-3) in a tight one with host Colorado (4-5); No. 22 Iowa (7-2) in a Big Ten slobberknocker with visiting Rutgers (6-3) … No. 24 North Carolina (7-2) tested by visiting Duke (6-3), which was without QB Riley Leonard; and No. 25 Kansas State (6-3) hosting Baylor (3-6) … The next team after Michigan to 10 wins was Liberty (10-0), with a 38-10 matinee decision over visiting Old Dominion (4-6) … Pittsburgh (2-7) and Syracuse (4-5) took the field for a ballgame at Yankee Stadium … ESPN College GameDay legend Lee Corso talked Saturday of his freshman year at QB a whopping 70 years ago for Florida State. He is 88 and still sharp and entertaining on the GameDay panel. Go Corso!