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Penn State's defense made plays all over the field against Michigan Saturday night in Ann Arbor.

Defensive tackle Anthony Zettel swiped an errant Devin Gardner screen attempt and made a play few defensive linemen can make, running five yards with an interception to set up Penn State's offense for a second-quarter touchdown.

Brady Hoke's Wolverines never blocked middle linebacker Mike Hull, probably because they couldn't catch him. The end result was an 11-tackle night for one of the Big Ten's most instinctive players, a performance that also included a sack, a tackle for loss and a pass breakup. That pass breakup, by the way, was nearly a pick-six.

But it says something about where Penn State's offense is at the moment, a day removed from a clumsy 18-13 loss to Michigan, that the Lions 'D' can't afford to make any big mistakes.

It made just one, a botched coverage by safety Ryan Keiser on wideout Devin Funchess' 43-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter, and it kept Michigan in the game long enough for PSU's offense and special teams to give it away with poor play throughout the second half.

Keiser was in perfect position to catch the ball or knock it down but he allowedFunchess take it away for a TD, and the Wolverines eventually wore down the visitors with three field goals and a safety.

"It was frustrating, but it was at the beginning of the game,'' PSU corner Jordan Lucas said of the Funchess TD.

"When you look back at it, of course it could have been prevented. But if they didn't score that touchdown we probably would have won the game.

"We just have to capitalize on opportunities because we're only going to get so many per game."

In an age when most teams regularly score in the 30s and 40s, on a day when Baylor and TCU combined for 119 points, the Lions lost because they could only score 13 on a Michigan team that had given up 404 passing yards to Rutgers quarterback Gary Nova a week earlier.

Christian Hackenberg? He was held to 160, hampered by an offensive line that allowed six quarterback sacks. Only some nifty footwork by Hackenberg prevented two or three more.

More troubling, though, is that U-M was getting after Hackenberg without doing a lot of blitzing. PSU's O-line can't even handle a simple rush by the defensive line.

A year ago, Hackenberg threw for more than 300 yards against a better Michigan team, leading the Lions to a 43-40 win in four overtimes at Beaver Stadium.

PSU was never a threat to score 20 in this one. No running game, a simplified passing attack get it to wideout DaeSean Hamilton (7-58, TD) ... or else and nothing special happening in the kicking game.

Michigan's defense did not start out strong PSU scored on its first three possessions but the Wolverines overwhelmed PSU for most of the final three quarters.

"They got us last year and (Christian) Hackenberg is a great quarterback,'' U-M defensive end Frank Clark said.

"He won the game for them last year driving down the field.''

"It was pressure on the quarterback with four-man, three-man rush that really worked out pretty well and maximum coverage,'' Hoke said, asked about the defensive strategy.

"And part of that, you know, is he's gotta hold the ball a little longer, and we got off the field in third downs, which in the first half we really didn't as much."

Penn State's defense was very, very good Saturday night. The Lions put forth a winning effort.

But even one defensive mistake can be the difference in a game the way James Franklin's offense is performing with the season at the midway point.

And that kind of pressure is something coordinator Bob Shoop's unit doesn't need. Or deserve.

MICHIGAN WEEK

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