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Michigan Outlasts Virginia Tech, 23-20 in Overtime, To Win Sugar Bowl

Michigan kicker Brendan Gibbons celebrates his game-winning field goal.
Kevin C. Cox, Getty Images

For the second time in as many nights, a missed field goal in overtime proved to be the deciding factor in a BCS bowl game. Michigan edged Virginia Tech, 23-20, after Hokies kicker Justin Myer missed a 37-yard field goal in the first overtime, allowing Michigan to kick a field goal of its own for the win moments later.

Virginia Tech outgained the Wolverines 377-184 and had 22 first downs to Michigan’s 12. But the Hokies struggled to put the ball in the end zone, settling for four field goals in regulation. Quarterback Logan Thomas threw for 254 yards while adding 53 yards and the Hokies’ only touchdown on the ground.

Led by the rushing tandem of QB Denard Robinson and RB Fitzgerald Toussaint (2,174 rushing yards and 25 touchdowns this season between them), Michigan came into the game ranked 12th in the nation in rushing at more than 235 yards per game. But the Hokies defense bottled Michigan up most of the night, holding the Wolverines to just 56 rushing yards on 30 carries. However, while Robinson didn’t have great stats (nine of 21 for 117 yards), he made the most of his completions, burning Virginia Tech for 45- and 18-yard touchdown passes to Junior Hemingway that swung the momentum in the Wolverines’ favor.

But Virginia Tech wouldn’t go away, outscoring Michigan 14-3 over the final 20 minutes of the game to force overtime. In the first overtime, the Hokies thought they had scored a go-ahead touchdown on a 20-yard pass from Logan Thomas to Danny Coale (eight catches for 117 yards) in the left corner of the end zone. But the play was reviewed and ultimately ruled incomplete, leading to Virginia Tech’s final field goal attempt.

Justin Myer was actually the Hokies’ third-string kicker, but was pressed into service after starter Cody Journell was suspended after a breaking-and-entering arrest and backup Tyler Weiss was sent home for a curfew violation. Myer made four field goals in regulation, but was unable to connect when it mattered most, pushing his 37-yard overtime attempt wide right. Michigan was then able to go conservative, calling three straight running plays before sending kicker Brendan Gibbons in for the game-winning 37-yarder.

The win wraps up one of the more remarkable turnarounds in recent college football history. Under first year head coach Brady Hoke, the Wolverines improved from 7-6 a year ago to 11-2 this year, Michigan’s first 11-win season since 2006. This was Virginia Tech’s sixth BCS bowl game, but their fifth loss.

On Monday night, Oklahoma State squeaked by Stanford in the Fiesta Bowl in overtime after Cardinal kicker Jordan Williamson missed three field goals, including one in the extra session.

 

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