The then-junior quarterback was knocked out of that game with a mild concussion, as was his backup, Daryll Clark. The Nittany Lions finished with third-teamer Paul Cianciolo under center and lost at Beaver Stadium, 17-10.
These days, Morelli doesn’t have much to say about the team’s eighth consecutive loss to the Wolverines. “It’s over now,” he said earlier this week. “I’ve put it behind me and I’m looking forward to playing them this year.”
Fair enough. When it comes to Michigan, the Nittany Lions and their followers don’t have much incentive to dwell on the past.
As for the future, it appears to be well worth contemplating. With a victory Saturday in Michigan Stadium, Penn State would not only end an eight-game skid against the Wolverines; it would burnish its BCS credentials just as the Big Ten season is getting under way.
Which brings us back to Morelli. The Lions’ hopes will likely hinge on the play of their senior quarterback. Through three games, he is ranked fourth in the Big Ten in pass efficiency with a 63.2 percent completion percentage and an average of 209.3 passing yards a game. He has thrown eight touchdown passes and just one interception. Factoring in Michigan’s defensive breakdowns earlier this year -- it allowed a combined 520 passing yards against Appalachian State and Oregon -- Penn State would seemingly have an advantage on offense.
But Morelli isn’t taking anything for granted.
“Michigan always has a solid defense,” he said. “In the first two games, I don’t think they were ready for that spread offense. But for the start of the Big Ten [season], everyone is going to be pumped up. Michigan is going to be pumped up. They’re going to bring their ‘A’ game and we have to take care of business.”
Morelli admits he was excited by what he saw on film of Michigan’s first two games. But watching the Notre Dame game on tape was a bit of a buzz kill.
“It was 38-0 against Notre Dame last week,” he said. “Their defense came to play. The Big Ten is starting up this Saturday, so I expect to see a different Michigan football team, a little bit more intense and even better than the past three weeks.”
He may well be right, but Morelli believes the Lions are up to the challenge. Even if they need a late touchdown like the one they got from their Michael Robinson-led offense two years ago before everything unraveled, he is confident he and his offensive teammates can supply it. Said Morelli, “Just give me a chance and we’ll take care of business.”