Sunday, November 11, 2012


"In the future, if you're wondering, jumping up and down when your quarterback was hit late out of bounds is when decided to kick your ass." --My Brady Hoke internal monologue  (GIF by the incomparable Timothy Burke)
I like to believe that there are football gods, a sub-executive level group of functionaries below the big guy who oversee the hopes and prayers of football fans everywhere, because there's a lot of traffic in that area, but it's not particularly important in the grand scheme.  They can't answer all of the prayers all of the time, because everything would end in a tie, but I like to think they reward humility and punish hubris.  So while some of you may rightfully argue that Roy Roundtree's amazing catch to put Bear Gibbons in position to tie the game was the moment you know Michigan was going to win, I knew it was the moment shown above, when Pat Fitzgerald decided to celebrate the flag that Brennan Beyer just drew for roughing the quarterback, keeping a Northwestern drive alive, a drive upon which they would go on to score and take the lead.

Now, buoyed by the improbability of Dennis Norfleet's "Whoops, out of blockers this way, let's reverse field, even though that never works" kick return my faith was perhaps shaken somewhat by the unfortunate interception Devin Gardner threw while trying to hit Devin Funchess on a downfield throw (I wonder if Funchess even knew the DB was going to jump the route?).  It was further shaken by the marginal spot and subsequent support for said spot on the replay review, well, you just have to hold fast that the football gods act in their own ways.

When Northwestern decided to punt, which I can support, especially if you're on the 49 and you angle it, I thought that it would be tough sledding, but it still could happen, because I just couldn't see the football gods getting behind cheering like a madman for a penalty.  So Jeremy Gallon's punt return to the Michigan 38, the Wolverines got down to business.

Some quick math told me that Michigan was going to need about 27-35 yards to have a shot at a game tying field goal from Brendan Gibbons, anything beyond that was going to be gravy.

So when Devin Gardner set up to do this (5:00 mark):

I took it as my sign that the football gods had rendered their verdict on Mr. Fitzgerald's antics.
(Side note: You can't see it in the game footage, I only caught it because I am on the Northwestern bench side of the field, but Devin Funchess was scrambling to get off the field before the spike and he literally does a dive/roll on to the Michigan sideline like he's an action hero fleeing an explosion.  Commitment to not screwing up!)  Moments later, Brendan Gibbons made his 11th straight field goal and we were off to overtime.  Sure, Michigan lost the toss, because that would have made it too easy.  But another great catch by Roundtree, some hard running by Fitzgerald Toussaint, and a great bootleg on a run pass/option by Devin Gardner, and a Bear Gibbons extra point later and Michigan was up seven.  Still gotta make the stops, something that really hadn't been going the defense's way on this day.  But a Mattison adjustment in formation, one of the loudest crowds I've heard in Big House history (Coulter was having serious trouble audibling.  You could tell when Kovacs said "We're gonna play that way and pointed at the student section, he knew what he wanted to do), and all of the sudden Kenny Demens is free in the middle and is stopping the ball carrier and Michigan wins, Northwestern loses, and all is right in the football universe.

Hokeface (also by Timothy Burke)
It wasn't a perfect day.  The Toussaint fumble was maddening, but a great play by the Wildcat defense. Special K remembered where "In The Big House" was on his hard drive.  There weren't enough holes in the offensive line to run through, things of this ilk.

But it was sunny, warmish for a November day.  Al Wistert got a tremendous ovation from the Michigan Stadium crowd, the MMB put on a funny show, Devin Gardner continued to look good, Roy Roundtree remembered that he's a heck of a receiver, Gibbons is still money, and in the end, Michigan was victorious,   Really, that's more than we should be able to ask for from the football gods.  After all, you need to stay humble.

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