Michigan Took Stand, Testified to History at Penn St

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In preparing for the Michigan-Penn State showdown, Wolverines coach Gary Moeller took his team back in time to 1978. Michigan had to go to Notre Dame. The two college football powerhouses hadn't played since 1943.

"Michigan had a pretty good team, but it had to go to South Bend and look across the field and see Joe Montana," Moeller said.

Renewing an ancient rivalry against a top program on enemy turf was challenge enough. Facing one of the great quarterbacks of our time made it even more difficult.

Michigan won the game, which is probably why Moeller brought it up on the eve of the first meeting ever between the Wolverines and the Nittany Lions, two perennial Top 10 teams and now brethren in the Big Ten Conference.

Because Michigan came through again with a victory and stopped Penn State with a memorable goal-line stand, Moeller thinks this game will be a benchmark, a contest that will live in the hearts and minds of Michigan fans forever.

"Just as we refer back to that one Notre Dame game (in '78), I feel like in 50 years some coach will say the first time (against Penn State), this happened. . . . It's part of the history of the game. I don't know how much meaning it will have, but I want them to look at us in a good light," Moeller said.

Michigan beat Penn State 21-13 as Tyrone Wheatley ran for a season-high 192 yards on 32 carries.

Look for Moeller's successors at Michigan to bring out the tape and roll The Goal-Line Stand before big road games against big-name opponents.

Here's the way it went:

Trailing 14-10 late in the third quarter, Penn State was on the verge of taking the lead. As is becoming customary in the Big Ten this season, two extremely controversial pass-interference calls against Michigan helped the Nittany Lions get in scoring position.

Penn State was inches away from the end zone. But on the first two plays, the Wolverines drove back quarterback Kerry Collins. Then on third down, running back Ki-Jana Carter was hit for a yard loss.

On fourth down, the Wolverines expected Penn State to go outside. But Carter came up the middle again, and linebacker Jarrett Irons hit him first, then middle guard Tony Henderson stood him up.

"Our philosophy was to create a new line," Henderson said. "We had to knock them back. We couldn't let them get a surge."

The stand sapped the unbeaten Lions, and Michigan held on for the victory.

The Nittany Lions later cut the lead to 14-13, but got no closer.

"We saw that as our shot to take the lead again and get back in the ballgame," Collins told the Chicago Tribune. …