Posted on: January 4, 2012 12:27 am
Edited on: January 4, 2012 12:27 am
Posted by Tom Fornelli
MICHIGAN WON. I'm not sure how they did it even though I saw it with my own eyes, but the Michigan Wolverines won the Sugar Bowl 23-20 over Virginia Tech in overtime on Tuesday night. The Wolverines seemed lifeless for the first 29 minutes of the game, but the Hokies were only able to put 6 points on the board in that time despite outgaining the Wolverines 181 yards to 81 yards until that point. But then Denard Robinson unleashed a pass down the right sideline that seemed destined for the hands of a Hokie, yet Junior Hemingway pulled it in for a 45-yard touchdown pass -- one of Hemingway's two touchdown catches on the evening.
Then the silly began. Virginia Tech fumbled on the ensuing kickoff, and a few plays later Michigan tried one of the worst fake field goals that ever worked in the history of organized football, as holder Drew Dileo's pass was deflected before landing in the arms of offensive lineman Jareth Glanda for a first down. After that the Wolverines tacked on a field goal to take a 10-6 lead into the locker room even though they'd been completely out played for 29 minutes and 11 seconds.
Virginia Tech would continue to outplay Michigan in the second half, battling back to tie the game in the closing seconds on a Justin Myer field goal -- Myer being the Hokies third-string kicker -- to send the game into overtime. Unfortunately for the Hokies, after making his first four kicks of the night, Myer would miss on his fifth attempt in overtime.
A few plays later Brendan Gibbons' 37-yard field goal went through the uprights to give Michigan the win.
HOW MICHIGAN WON. This is not an easy question to answer. The Wolverines were outgained by the Hokies 377 to 184. Denard Robinson completed only 9 of 21 passes for 117 yards and rushed for 13 yards on 13 carries, the lowest rushing output of his career. But if there was a reason for Michigan to win this game, it was because Virginia Tech didn't take full advantage of its early chances.
Yes, the Hokies dominated the first half, but even then Tech could only manage 2 field goals and a 6-0 lead. Then there was the ill-advised fake punt out of a timeout in the fourth quarter that set Michigan up with great field position for a field goal that gave them a 20-17 lead at the time.
There were also 3 Virginia Tech turnovers. Perhaps none bigger than the fumble following Michigan's first score of the game, as it seemed to completely shift the momentum to Michigan's sideline.
WHEN MICHIGAN WON. Not until Gibbons' 37-yard field goal split the uprights in the overtime.
WHAT MICHIGAN WON. A BCS bowl game, which, given the direction Michigan fans had seen this program going in the last few years under Rich Rodriguez, has to feel like somewhat of a minor miracle. The turnaround in this team, particularly on defense, was quicker than any reasonable expectation, and the Wolverines have their first BCS win since the 2000 Orange Bowl. Brady Hoke, Al Borges and Greg Mattison deserve a lot of credit in Ann Arbor.
WHAT VIRGINIA TECH LOST. There were plenty of people who said that Virginia Tech didn't deserve to play in this game ahead of some programs like Kansas State or Boise State. It's certainly reasonable to agree with that assessment, but not because of the way the Hokies played on Tuesday night. Virginia Tech outplayed the Wolverines everywhere but on the scoreboard. That said, it's the Hokies fifth consecutive loss in a BCS bowl game, not picking up a victory since winning the Sugar Bowl in 1995.
THAT WAS CRAZY. The fake field goal that shouldn't have worked yet worked to set up the Michigan field goal at the end of the first half was just hard to explain. So much went wrong on that play for it to work out so well for the Wolverines, but anytime an offensive lineman can get a big reception, I'm all for it.
GRADE: C+. Much like the Rose Bowl and the Fiesta Bowl, the Sugar Bowl was a close game that came down to the last few moments. Unlike those other two bowl games, it wasn't because two teams were playing to the best of their abilities and matching up well with one another. This game was only close because neither team was capable of taking control of it, despite numerous opportunities to do so. So while it may have been close it wasn't great.