Michigan Football improved to 7-3 (5-1) with a dramatic 38-31 victory in OT on Saturday afternoon against Northwestern.
Brady Hoke asked the first question at his post game presser. “How many of you (reporters) had your stories written before the finish?” Most of the room raised their hands. For Hoke, these last second wins are now officially old hat. Walking back to the locker room after the game Brady’s wife asked him if he had any doubts about the pending outcome. “None”. When asked why? “Because of these kids. Period.”
No matter the outcome of this game, the Michigan Wolverines have to start feeling better about the quarterback position in their near future. Devin Gardner, is beginning to look very comfortable in a leadership role on offense. Gardner accounted for 4 touchdowns and had 333 yards of total offense.
1. QB Devin Gardner, in his second career start, played a much more disciplined game. While his offensive stats might be measured against senior Denard Robinson, his game management skills are improving. He was 16 of 29 for 286 yards and 2 touchdowns in the air, and 9 rushing attempts for 47 yards and 2 touchdowns on the ground including the game winner in overtime.
2. Senior wideout Roy Roundtree caught 5 passes for 139 yards which included his 53 yard circus act with 8 seconds remaining.
3. Middle linebacker Kenny Demens led the defensive charge in overtime as he stuffed the final two Wildcat plays to seal the win. Demens notched 9 tackles and 2 TFLs.
3 Key Plays
1. Six plays after Fitz Toussaint’s fumble, the defense came up huge. Junior defensive tackle Jibreel Black sacked Wildcat QB Kain Colter forcing a fumble in the process which was recovered by freshman linebacker Joe Bolden. This led to Michigan’s second touchdown and first lead of the day. 14-7.
2. Late in the third quarter on third and goal from the 8 yard line, Senior Defensive End Craig Roh sacked Colter, forcing Northwestern to settle for a field goal.
3. And the play of the day: Devin Gardner’s hail-mary to Roy Roundtree for 53 yards. Gardner, under heavy pressure stepped up in the pocket and heaved a long ball to the center post where Roundtree and a Northwestern defender went airborne, deflecting the ball in the process. Roundtree kept his focus and caught the ball as he went to the turf.
Stat of the Game
Michigan was 5 for 5 in the red zone. While this in and of itself might not seem to be a big deal for college footballs all-time winning program, it should give confidence for a team that is transitioning to a new starting quarterback, fighting for a conference championship, in mid-November.
The snap on Brendan Gibbons game tying field goal was low, Drew Dileo did a great job of handling it and making sure Gibbons had a clean shot.
When Northwestern punted the ball away with 27 seconds left and a 31-28 lead, Brandon Williams’ 34 yard effort was a line drive right to Jeremy Gallon who returned it 23 yards and set up the miracle pass to Roundtree.
Freshman linebacker James Ross III was impressive as he racked up a career-high 6 tackles. He has good instincts and good closing speed.
Brady Hoke stays undefeated at Michigan Stadium.
Jeremy Gallon hauled in a career-high 7 receptions for 94 yards.
Thomas Gordon tallied a game-high 11 tackles.
Roy Roundtree moved into 12th place all-time in school history for receiving yards, passing Derrick Alexander’s total of 1,977. Roundtree is the 12th Wolverine to eclipse the 2,000-yard mark.
Lost in this miracle finish might be junior kicker Brendan Gibbons. He didn’t make a 50 yarder to send it to overtime (more like extra-point length) but he made it nonetheless. Gibbons seems to be money with the game on the line.
What It Means
Michigan adds another win and keeps their prospects for a New Years Day Bowl game or better alive. Should Nebraska slip up, Michigan needs to keep winning to earn an appearance in the Big Ten Championship game. That might take more miracles than any team deserves but it’s still a possibility.