Michigan vs. Penn State: Brady Hoke Gives Game Away with Bad Play-Calling

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Michigan vs. Penn State: Brady Hoke Gives Game Away with Bad Play-Calling
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images
Where was Devin Funchess in overtime?

Michigan was shocked by Penn State 43-40, falling in overtime on the road in front of a raucous homecoming crowd. The Wolverines fall to 5-1 after entering the game undefeated.

Missed field goals by both teams and a fumble by Penn State that seemed to seal its fate marked the overtime.

Did Hoke's conservative play-calling lose the game for Michigan?

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But the biggest shock was Michigan's conservative play-calling, which allowed Penn State to win.

The contrast between Penn State coach Bill O’Brien and Michigan coach Brady Hoke was no more apparent than in the fourth overtime.

With Michigan leading 40-37, O’Brien passed on a potential game-tying field goal on fourth down at the 16-yard line and gained a first down on a running play through the heart of the Michigan defense.  

Penn State scored the game-winning touchdown four plays later with a two-yard dive.

O’Brien played to win, while Hoke played conservatively and paid the price.

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Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner

During the second half, the Wolverines offense was all about quarterback Devin Gardner running and passing after injuries on the offensive line to tackle Taylor Lewan and guard Chris Bryant hampered Michigan running backs from gaining ground.

Gardner ran for 121 yards on 24 carries and threw for 240 yards and three touchdowns. Unfortunately, he also contributed to Penn State’s first two touchdowns, which came after two interceptions deep in Michigan territory.  

Devin Funchess had another big game with four receptions for 112 yards and two touchdowns. Wide receiver Jeremy Gallon contributed seven receptions for 95 yards and a single touchdown.

How bad was the Michigan running game? Running backs Fitzgerald Toussaint and Derrick Green combined for 30 carries and 28 yards between them.

Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports
Michigan head coach Brady Hoke

Despite struggling in the first half, the offense did get on track in the second, which makes the late play-calling even harder to understand.

Michigan roared back with 17 points in the third quarter after trailing by 11 at halftime. It seemed to be in control, leading Penn State by 10 points midway through the fourth quarter.

Michigan gave Penn State a chance to force overtime by punting at the 35-yard line after running the ball 10 times in the waning moments of the fourth quarter. Penn State took over after the touchback and drove 80 yards for the tying score.

The combination of Gardner running and passing brought the Wolverines back, but with the game in doubt, Hoke went to his struggling running backs. This despite the fact that his offensive line was in shambles.

Don't blame field-goal kicker Brendon Gibbons for this loss.

The play-calling allowed Penn State to steal the victory. 

Michigan abandoned the plays that worked so well during the second half and went back to what hadn't worked all game.

The result isn't surprising at all.

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