Michigan gets some luck against Va Tech in ugly Sugar Bowl


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.

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Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa injures thumb on throwing hand in spring practice opener

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This is not exactly the most optimal way to open the spring for Nick Saban and Alabama.

Shortly before seven p.m. ET this evening, grad transfer quarterback Gardner Minshew, who originally committed to play his last season of college football at Alabama, announced on Twitter that he will instead move on to Washington State.  Not long after that, after the Crimson Tide had completed their first practice of the spring, Saban confirmed that Tua Tagovailoa sustained an injury to the thumb on his right (throwing) hand.  Specifically how he sustained the injury wasn’t clear.

The rising sophomore will be taken to Birmingham for further evaluation; just how long he’ll be sidelined remains to be seen.

Jalen Hurts started every game but one at quarterback the past two seasons, guiding the Crimson Tide to a 26-2 record in that span.  He was under center for the national championship game loss to Clemson, and was in the same spot for this year’s title game against Georgia until a 13-0 halftime deficit compelled Saban to pull the trigger on a change.

And the rest, as they say, is history, as Tagovailoa played a significant role in a second-half comeback that was capped by the true freshman’s game-winning touchdown pass in the first overtime.  Even as it seems obvious to those on the outside that this is Tagovailoa’s team moving forward, given how much more advanced the backup is in the passing game than the erstwhile starter, Saban is not quite ready to pull the trigger on a full-time change at the position.  In fact, the head coach even stated that he’s open to playing both quarterbacks.

Minshew, who started five games at East Carolina last season, was viewed as experienced insurance in case Hurts decided to transfer.  Or, if Tagovailoa suffered an injury.

After committing to Alabama, grad transfer QB Gardner Minshew tweets flip to Washington State

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So much for the implementation of the Jalen Hurts Transfer Protection Plan™.

In late February, Gardner Minshew, a graduate transfer quarterback from East Carolina, confirmed that he had committed to play for Alabama and would enroll at the university in May.  Nearly three weeks later, Minshew shifted his course significantly, announcing on Twitter that he is “[p]roud to say that I’ll be playing my last year of college ball at Washington State.”

At least when it comes to the opportunity for playing time, the Cougars, looking to replace Luke Falk, make much more sense than the Crimson Tide, who has, in addition to a two-year starter in Hurts, national championship game hero Tua Tagovailoa.

As a graduate transfer, Minshew will be eligible to play immediately for Wazzu in 2018 and could be in line to win a starting job at the Power Five school.

Minshew started five games for the Pirates last season, throwing for 2,140 yards, 16 touchdowns and seven interceptions in completing just over 57 percent of his 304 pass attempts. Prior to his departure from ECU, he was penciled in as the Pirates’ 2018 starting quarterback.

The news of Minshew’s initial commitment to UA came a little over a week after Minshew visited the Tuscaloosa campus.  Earlier in February, it was reported that Alabama had an interest in Minshew, the quarterback who announced late last month that he had withdrawn from East Carolina to tend to a personal matter in his home state of Mississippi.

WATCH: Amazon releases trailer for ‘All or Nothing’ season following Michigan

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“All or Nothing” has been Amazon’s answer to HBO’s “Hard Knocks” with one clear distinction — “All or Nothing” actually follows its subject throughout the season. The first two seasons followed the Arizona Cardinals and the Los Angeles Rams, and has now expanded into the college game. Amazon on Tuesday unveiled the trailer for its upcoming season with Michigan, in which its cameras followed Jim Harbaugh‘s Wolverines through an 8-5 campaign where the maize and blue won no games of consequence.

This is not the first such documentary series to follow a college team. Showtime’s “A Season With” has chronicled seasons of Florida State, Notre Dame and Navy.

The upcoming season will hit all Amazon Prime streaming devices on April 6.

Report: Auburn WR Eli Stove undergoes surgery for torn ACL

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A significant development has gone under the radar at Auburn, until now. Junior wide receiver Eli Stove tore his ACL during Auburn’s first spring practice and underwent surgery last Tuesday, according to Brandon Marcello of Auburn Undercover.

As a sophomore in 2017, Stove caught 29 passes for 265 yards and rushed 30 times for 315 yards and two touchdowns, which made him the Tigers’ third-leading rusher.

Stove was expected to increase his portfolio heading into 2018, but now he’ll spend the foreseeable future working simply to get back on the field. No timetable has been set for Stove’s return.

Though Stove is one of Auburn’s most talented pass-catchers, the Tigers aren’t hurting for depth even in his absence. Nine wideouts caught a pass for Auburn last season, and not one of them was a senior.