The game was hard-fought and the Defense played spectacular throughout much of the game, still they failed to beat Michigan, here are the reasons why.
1) Play-Calling: I said last week that the play-calling was going to have to change, the lions couldn’t just run the ball up the middle against this good Michigan defense and expect to get anywhere. The 1st series as I recall started with a spread formation where they ran an inside draw for no gain. That is not how you win football games against a team that is venerable down in the deep middle! It continued throughout the 1st quarter and into the 2nd half and when Austin Scott finally fumbled to KILL a drive that could have put 7 on the board the offense finally went into a different direction. Which leads me to the 2nd problem: Mistakes.
2) Mistakes: In a comment I left over at BSD I mentioned that in order to win this game the Lions and specifically Morelli would have to be mistake and turnover free. That of course didn’t happen, his fumble in the 1st quarter led to Michigan's 1st touchdown and put us in a 7-0 within the first 8 minutes. Later Morelli missed a wide-open Deon Butler on a slant that would have given up a TD. Austin Scott's fumble was the dagger in the heart killing hopes of winning that game unless a miracle happened, which it didn’t, when you go into hostile territory you can not turn the ball over and miss your marks, it only makes it harder to overcome the other team's home field advantage.
3) Exhausted Defense: This is an effect to the 1st two problems causes. The defense was very good, Connor played a hell of a game and met Hart in the hole all day but when the offense can't stay on the field and turns the ball over and can't capitalize on the chances they get that leaves the Defense to keep the whole team in the game. Hart only averaged 3.5 a carry, he only had a long of 14. But when the Michigan Offense kept getting the ball back they could just go to their bread and butter, running Hart 44 times for 153. And when Penn State REALLY needed a stop in the 4th with 4 minutes left after they had made it 14-9 the D couldn’t keep up with the Michigan Offense and that was that.
Overall: Do I think the Season is lost? Well if you define a season with whether Penn State wins a National Championship or not then yes I do think it’s lost. But I truly believe we still have a top 10 Defense in the country and we will be able to hang with Wisconsin and Ohio State, if the Offense can change something, ANYTHING, or if Morelli can mature just a little bit more then the team will become more complete. Remember those two games as well as Iowa and Purdue are at home, the only conference away games left are Illinois and Indiana with Illinois this weekend. I'm still this optimistic because we still really don’t know how good everyone is, Iowa gave Wisconsin all they could handle in Camp Randall. So if Iowa comes into Happy Valley and the lions take it to them then I would feel we still have a great shot at beating Wisconsin. Ohio State is looking like they are getting their act together, to be honest I wished we could have played them in the 3rd or 4th game of the season, the longer the season goes on, the better they will get.