It’d been a few years since we saw Michigan in familiar territory — playing in a BCS game, that is. Not only did the No. 13 Wolverines finally get back to one of college football’s elite postseason games for the first time in five years, but first-year coach Brady Hoke managed to pull out a Sugar Bowl win against No. 17 Virginia Tech t0o, 23-20 in overtime.
It’s just how Michigan got the W that remains a mind-boggling mystery.
The X factor in any Michigan game, quarterback Denard Robinson, struggled again throwing the ball — no surprise there with a 9-for-21 performance — but the junior couldn’t get going on the ground, racking up just 13 yards on as many carries. Michigan’s offense gained only 56 yards on the ground and 184 total yards.
It’s not like they crushed Virginia Tech in the turnover battle (just +1, although they managed points off turnovers) or played amazing defense (they gave up nearly double the amount of total yards and allowed some crucial third down conversions).
But Michigan did have one distinct advantage VT, which falls to 11-3, did not: luck. Things just went U-M’s way tonight.
Sometimes that happens without much of a reason at all.
Consider the fact that the Wolverines didn’t do anything offensively for about 50 minutes in regulation. But a pair of outstanding catches by receiver Junior Hemingway despite some bad throws by Robinson gave Michigan 14 quick points. Honestly, Robinson could have ended tonight’s game with 4 interceptions.
Add in a Va Tech fumble on a kickoff… which led to a fake field goal pass batted around in the air before it was caught by a U-M lineman… which led to another field goal, as well as a fake punt by the Hokies that went horribly wrong.
Or, how about touchdown pass from Logan Thomas to receiver Danny Coale in the first overtime that was overturned. The ball may have moved when it hit the ground, but indisputable evidence? It was close*. Then, VT’s third-string kicker, Justin Myer, who had been 4-for-4 tonight, missed a fifth field goal that was nothing more than a long chip shot.
(*note: I thought the ball moved, but that’s just me)
Michigan would run three plays on its ensuing overtime possession and kicked a game-winning 37-yard field goal.
BAM. Michigan: Sugar Bowl champs. Just like that.
Frank Beamer looked stunned. I think his expression echoed what all of us were feeling.
But however lucky or… whatever it was that Michigan was tonight… you have to give credit to Hoke for what he’s done in his first year. Wins over Notre Dame, Ohio State and now a BCS victory and 11-2 record? Not much to complain about there. The Wolverines will likely finish the season with a Top 10 ranking and could be a preseason favorite to compete for a Big Ten title in 2012.
If nothing else, it’s just good to have the Maize and Blue competing at a high level again. Whether you’re a fan of ’em or not, college football is better when Michigan is relevant.
Quite on the contrary, the ACC slips further into irrelevancy with tonight’s loss, as the conference is just 2-12 in BCS bowls since the system was created in the late 1990’s.
We can’t wait until the BCS decides to do away with the automatic qualifier status.This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!