Michigan's two-point try is no good. now the Wolverines will have to rely on their defense to win the game
Michigan avoided what would have been arguably one of the worst losses of the Jim Harbaugh era, storming back from a first half deficit and surviving in triple overtime with a 48-42 win at Rutgers.
The Scarlet Knights entered the game as heavy underdogs but jumped out to a 17-0 lead before a quarterback change helped get the Wolverines back into the game. Cade McNamara took over for Joe Milton and the offense found some life, cutting into the lead before halftime and keeping pace in a back-and-forth game throughout the second half. McNamara finished with 260 yards and four touchdowns with zero interceptions on 27-of-36 passing, connecting with Cornelius Jackson for two of those scores and helping guide the offense through those tense overtime possessions.
But McNamara's performance off the bench was almost not enough, because Rutgers quarterback Noah Vedral was too dialed in to let this upset opportunity get away from the Scarlet Knights. Vedral literally carried defenders into the end zone on the game-tying two-point conversion with less than 30 seconds remaining in regulation, one play after he evaded defenders on fourth down for the touchdown.
He finished with 378 passing yards and three touchdowns, but no yards or scores will be quite as meaningful as those plays at the end of regulation that both sparked life for Rutgers and sowed the seeds of doubt for a Michigan team that had apparently retaken control of the game after halftime.
The first overtime put the chess match between Jim Harbaugh and Greg Schiano into focus. Facing a fourth and 2 on the first possession of overtime, Harbaugh decided to attempt a field goal that was missed. Then, needing only a field goal to win, Rutgers played it conservative on third and long to avoid the turnover and set up a favorable spot for its potential game-winning field goal in the middle of the field, only to see it miss as well.
Rutgers scored on the very first play of the second overtime on a Vedral pass to Jovani Haskins, but then Michigan responded with a game-tying touchdown from McNamara to force a third overtime. That's when Hassan Haskins, who led Michigan with 112 rushing yards in the game, jumped over the line on fourth and goal to score what would prove to be the game-winning touchdown.
That victory wouldn't be sealed until Rutgers got its chance to respond, and Michigan's interception in the end zone put an end to the Scarlet Knights' upset bid.
While Michigan notched the win to improve to 2-3, what remains striking is how similar it looked to Rutgers, a team that it has dominated for most of their time together in the Big Ten. The Wolverines have now won six straight in the series, but this triple-overtime decision stands in opposition to results like 52-0 in 2019, 42-7 in 2018 or 78-0 in 2016. The conversations around whether Michigan is headed in the right direction will continue, but with less fervor considering the upset was avoided.
What does bode well for Michigan is the emergence of McNamara and how the offense played with him leading the charge. Up next for the Wolverines are home dates against Penn State and Maryland, which both provide opportunities to build on Saturday night's success, before the much-anticipated regular season finale against Ohio State.
CBS Sports was with you the entire way updating this story with the latest from the game. Keep it locked here for live updates, highlights and more on Saturday evening.