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Whirlwind 24 Hours Pays Off for Michigan at Penn State

JJ McCarthy and the Michigan offense stare down a loud Penn State student section.

UNIVERSITY PARK — To say it was a tumultuous 24 hours for the Michigan football program from Friday into Saturday, when it played Penn State, would be an understatement.

For starters, head coach Jim Harbaugh was suspended for the rest of the regular season on Friday due to the swirling sign-stealing scandal. The university filed a temporary restraining order Friday night, and there were some who thought an emergency hearing would happen Saturday morning. That didn’t happen, and it is now scheduled for Friday.

That left the temporary job to offensive coordinator Sherrone Moore, and his players responded with a 24-15 win that kept their College Football Playoff hopes more than alive and well.

Michigan QB J.J. McCarthy said he didn’t know where Harbaugh was to watch Saturday’s game, but the team did FaceTime with him after the win.

“He was a jolly good fellow,” McCarthy said.

It wasn’t certain until Michigan got to Penn State football’s Beaver Stadium on Saturday morning that Harbaugh would not be with the team on the sideline. But the message stayed the same for the whole program.

“Play for yourself, play for the team, and play for Michigan,” Moore said. “This was a playoff game for us. We needed to do whatever we needed to do to win.

“It’s been a crazy 24 hours, but at the same time, our team is built for this. Our staff is built for this. We’re all built for it.”

A lot is made around Ann Arbor that the head coach needs to be a ‘Michigan man.’ Moore wasn’t that, at least initially, but has become one. He had a college career as a guard at Oklahoma before getting his coaching career started with stops at Louisville and Central Michigan.

Moore has been on Harbaugh’s staff since the 2018 season, first as tight ends coach and then moving to the offensive line and eventually becoming offensive coordinator this season.

“Coach Moore is one of the most passionate, powerful human beings I’ve ever been around,” McCarthy said. “He puts his absolute all into this football team, and this offense.”

For a name that probably not many people knew before Saturday, and for a man who has aspirations of being a permanent head coach someday, Michigan’s win over Penn State may have just been the finest hour for Moore’s coaching career.

“Being here six years, I feel like this is home,” Moore said. “It’s very deep, and I wear my heart on my sleeve. It meant a lot for all of us to get this win in this situation.

“Regardless if it was me or somebody else (as interim coach), it’s all about the team. This football team is bigger than one person.”


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