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Running game should lead Michigan Wolverines football team at Penn State

Michigan defensive back Daxton Hill, left, plays against Indiana on Saturday in Ann Arbor. (AP photo)

By TRAVIS JOHNSON

Associated Press

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Quarterback Sean Clifford used to run a lot, but that’s not really part of Penn State’s game plan these days.

At this point in the season, with three games left, the No. 23 Nittany Lions aren’t worried about trying to kickstart a stagnant running game by giving their quarterback more carries. They’re content to rely on his arm and star wideout Jahan Dotson.

They’re not going to change against No. 9 Michigan (8-1, 5-1 Big Ten, No. 6 CFP) on Saturday when both teams begin their final stretch runs at Beaver Stadium. For the Wolverines, that could include a shot at the Big Ten championship. Although Penn State’s title aspirations evaporated after an 0-3 stretch last month, the Nittany Lions (6-3, 3-3) want to finish strong, too.

STOP THE RUN

Penn State defenders know if they don’t slow the Wolverines’ top-ranked rushing offense, it could be a long afternoon.

Michigan is averaging 240 yards per game, best in the conference and seventh in the country. Led by Hassan Haskins, the Wolverines also like the hand the ball to Blake Corum. The two have already combined for 1,607 yards and 21 touchdowns on 295 carries.

However, Corum missed much of last week’s game with an undisclosed injury.

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh will turn to Tavi Dunlap, Leon Franklin, Danny Hughes or Isaiah Gash to pick up carries if Corum can’t go.

“Those guys that have been preparing, they’ve been working all season, and now comes their opportunity,” Harbaugh said.

PLAYING HURT

Michigan quarterback Cade McNamara has been playing through an undisclosed ailment. Tight end Erick All is also banged up and missed last week’s game.

“Pain threshold,” Harbaugh said. “Some have it. Some have a very high pain threshold. It’s a very good quality. I know a real football player prides himself on it.”

Michigan defensive back Daxton Hill, left, plays against Indiana on Saturday in Ann Arbor. (AP photo)

Michigan wide receiver Cornelius Johnson, front, catches a pass in the end zone for a touchdown as Indiana defensive back Jaylin Williams defends during the first half on Nov. 7 in Bloomington, Ind. (AP file photo)

JUST PRETEND

The Wolverines have tried to embrace the energy of the crowd on the road, flipping the noise fans make in their favor.

“I’d say don’t fight against it, you go with it,” Harbaugh said. “Enjoy that stage. Enjoy that opportunity. Personally, I like to pretend they’re cheering for me when I was a player. I think I see our players taking that same mindset. Their music is our music.”