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Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh not concerned over momentum loss going into Penn State game

Michigan, the only undefeated team in conference play, had last week off after winning its seventh straight game, but its players will "attack" the week, the Wolverines' head coach said.

Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh said his team was going to "attack" this week in preparation of Saturday's Big Ten matchup against Penn State.
Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh said his team was going to "attack" this week in preparation of Saturday's Big Ten matchup against Penn State.Read morePaul Sancya / AP Photo

Michigan entered its bye week with a seven-game winning streak and in control of the Big Ten East as the only undefeated team in conference play.

Maybe some fans of the fifth-ranked Wolverines were afraid that the break stifled the team's momentum, especially with Saturday's game against No. 14 Penn State coming up at Michigan Stadium, but head coach Jim Harbaugh doesn't see it that way.

"It's attacking this week," Harbaugh said Monday at his weekly news conference in Ann Arbor. "We practiced (Sunday) as a matter of fact so it's already begun. We practiced last week during the week so I can't really say that it stopped. It's been continuous and we strive for continuous improvement, so it fits in well."

The Wolverines (7-1, 5-0 Big Ten), whose only loss came in their opener, 24-17, at No. 3 Notre Dame, have developed arguably the toughest defense in the country, leading FBS in total defense (220.0 yards per game) and pass defense (122.9). They are sixth in points allowed (14.4 per game) and eighth in rush defense (97.1 yards).

If that isn't enough, Michigan has returned three interceptions for touchdowns.

One of the leaders of the Wolverines defense is the 6-foot-3, 255-pound defensive end Chase Winovich, who leads the team with 11 tackles for a loss and seven quarterback hurries,

"He just does everything at such an intense level, a hard-working level," Harbaugh said of the fifth-year senior. "He's gung-ho, too, as he's doing it, which seems to be a rarer trait in individuals these days.

"I think sometimes you see younger people thinking it's more cool to have an approach, that they're too cool for school as opposed to gung-ho. Chase is definitely a throwback in my mind in the area of attacking each day with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind, which I have great respect for."

Winovich and his teammates on defense will be focused on Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley, who came back from a second-quarter injury last Saturday to lead the Nittany Lions to a 30-24 win over Iowa.

"Terrific player, consistently plays really well, poses the threat in the passing game, defending the pass," Harbaugh said. "He's running the ball a lot more this year very effectively. He's quite a quarterback. The winning factor shows up over and over. Yeah, he's a big challenge for our team this week."

The Michigan offense has effectively rushed the football with senior Karan Higdon, who has gained 831 yards so far and averages 118.7 per game, second in the Big Ten. Higdon has topped 100 yards in all five conference games this season, and Michigan is 11-0 in his career when he reaches triple digits.

"Karan deserves a lot of credit," Harbaugh said. "He's gotten tough yards, yards after contact, yards more than what the play is blocked for. Karan's also shown a real penchant for the big play. He can break out of a pile of players as good as anybody."