2012 Sugar - Michigan 23, Virginia Tech 20 OT

Posted Jan 3, 2012

2011-2012 Bowls - CFN's Preview & Prediction for the 2012 Allstate Sugar Bowl

2012 Allstate Sugar

Michigan 23, Va Tech 20

- 2011-2012 CFN Bowl Central

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National Rankings
35th Total Offense 38th
17th Total Defense 13th
22nd Scoring Offense 55th
7th Scoring Defense 8th
12th Rushing Offense 30th
34th Run Defense 17th
90th Passing Offense 66th
17th Passing Defense 39th
25th Turnover Margin 29th
Position Rankings
relative to each other
5 Highest - 1 Lowest
M   V
5 Quarterbacks 4
4.5 RBs 5
4 Receivers 3
4 O Line 4
4 D Line 4
3.5 Linebackers 4
3.5 Secondary 4.5
3 Spec Teams 3
4 Coaching 5
Michigan 23 … Virginia Tech 20 OT

Michigan: The Wolverines only had the ball for 23:10 … Denard Robinson completed 9-of-21 passes for 117 yards and two touchdowns with a pick, and ran 13 times for 13 yards. … Junior Hemingway caught two passes for 63 yards and two scores. … Brendan Gibbons was 3-for-3, connecting from 24, 39, and the game-winner from 37 yards out. … Jordan Kovacs led the Wolverines with 11 tackles. … Jake Ryan made seven tackles, a sack, and four tackles for loss.

Virginia Tech: The Hokies outgained the Wolverines 377 yards to 184. … Logan Thomas completed 19-of-28 passes for 214 yards and a pick, and he ran 16 times for 53 yards and a touchdown. … David Wilson ran 24 times for 82 yards. … Danny Coale caught eight passes for 117 yards. … Justin Myer hit his first four field goals, but missed the 37-yarder in overtime. … Tariq Edwards led the Hokies with eight tackles, a sack, and two tackles for loss.

- Fiutak - Was It A Catch?
- Cirminiello - Showstopping Sugar
- Zemek - 11 Wins Can Hide A Lot
- Harrison - Hoke Turns Things Around

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Brendan Gibbons drilled a 37-yard field goal down the middle in overtime to lift No. 13 Michigan to a 23-20 victory over 17th-ranked Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl on Tuesday night.

The victory capped an impressive debut season for head coach Brady Hoke, who has led the Wolverines (11-2) back to prominence with a BCS bowl victory. Denard Robinson highlighted an otherwise unspectacular night with touchdown passes of 45 and 18 yards to game MVP Junior Hemingway.

"It shows our hard work," Hemingway said, his voice cracking with emotion. "It shows everything we put in from Day One, all the long days, long nights. Man, I'm telling you, it feels too good, man. Too good."

Virginia Tech (11-3) had more than double Michigan's total yards, 377-184, and had 22 first downs to Michigan's 12 but settled for four field goals in regulation by third-string kicker Justin Myer.

However, Myer was unable to connect on his fifth try from 37 yards away in the opening possession of overtime.

Robinson finished 9 for 21 for 117 yards passing and threw an interception. He rushed 13 times for a season-low 13 yards.

Virginia Tech first-year start Logan Thomas was 19 of 28 of 214 yards with one interception.

Thomas scored Tech's only touchdown on a 1-yard keeper that tied the game at 17 - after a 2-point conversion - early in the fourth quarter.

Virginia Tech senior receiver Danny Coale, who ranks second all-time for the Hokies in catches and yards receiving, had eight catches for 117 yards, and nearly made a spectacular diving catch for a touchdown in overtime. Coale held on to the ball for what was initially ruled a score, but the play was overturned on video review, which showed the receiver narrowly landed on the sideline.

The result of that third-down play forced Tech to try for Myer's failed field goal.

Michigan then used three conservative runs to set up Gibbons in the middle of the field. As his kick sailed through, Gibbons sprinted toward the Michigan sidelined and was mobbed by teammates while the Michigan band belted out the school's famous fight song, "The Victors," while Michigan fans, in rhythm, thrust a sea of maize pom-poms in the air.

Virginia Tech fell behind late in regulation after gambling on a fake punt. Michigan's Jake Ryan stopped it at the Tech 45, leading to a short drive that set up Gibbons' go-ahead 39-yard field goal with 4 minutes left.

That was just enough time for the Hokies to tie it once more, even though they had to start at their own 9 after a holding penalty on the kickoff.

Thomas marched the Hokies 83 yards in 3:58, setting up Myer's game-tying 25-yarder.

It was the fourth field goal of the game for Myer, who until a couple weeks ago was the third-string place kicker.

Primary place kicker Cody Journell didn't make the trip after his arrest in an alleged home invasion, then backup Tyler Weiss was sent home from New Orleans because of a curfew violation.

So place kicking duties fell to Myer, who had missed his only two attempts during the regular season but was perfect in the Sugar Bowl.

Hemingway staked Michigan to a 17-6 lead in the third quarter when he skied over Tech's Antone Exum for an 18-yard catch from Robinson in the back of the end zone. The scoring drive was set up by an even more difficult grab by reserve Michigan linebacker Frank Clark, who leaped and reached high over his head to snag Thomas' hard-thrown pass at close range, returning the interception to the Tech 35-yard line.

Tech cut it to 17-9 on Myer's 36-yard field goal.

Tech then tied the game on a series kept alive by Thomas' 13-yard scramble on fourth and 11 from the Michigan 35. A few plays later, Thomas powered in from a yard out, then lobbed a short pass to Marcus Davis for a 2-point conversion to even the score at 17 early in the fourth quarter.

Virginia Tech dominated most of the first half, taking a 6-0 lead on Myer's field goals of 37 and 43 yards, and could have led by more had the Michigan defensive line not stuffed Thomas on a quarterback keeper on fourth-and-1 on the Wolverines 4.

Michigan managed only one first down before stalling again at its own 26, but the Hokies' James Hopper was flagged for roughing punter Matt Wile on a failed block attempt, giving the Wolverines a first down on their 41.

Robinson, yanked his leg from a defender's grasp and unleashed a long throw off of his back foot while scrambling to his right. Virgnia Tech free safety Eddie Whitley tried to undercut intended receiver Hemingway and snag the interception, but mistimed his leap by a split second. That allowed Hemingway to make the grab with no one between him and the end zone, and the play went for a 45-yard score.

Having been shut out most of the first half, Michigan suddenly had a 7-6 lead, then got the ball right back on the ensuing kickoff when Tech's Tony Gregory fumble the return when he was hit by J.B. Fitzgerald and Michigan's Delonte Hollowell recovered at the Hokies 26.

Michigan failed to get a first down the conventional way and set up for what would have been a 36-yard field goal if it hadn't turned into one of the wackier plays of the bowl season instead.

Unable to get a clean snap and hold, Drew Dileo threw just a moment before being slammed flat on his back by Tech's Jack Tyler. The ball thrown to no one in particular looked like it was about to be intercepted by the Hokies' Kyle Fuller when he was bumped by a teammate. Fuller wound up tipping the ball in the air and it was caught by long snapper Jareth Glanda for a first down on the Tech 8.

Michigan didn't have time to convert that stroke of luck into six, but was able to line up a chip shot field goal as time ran out for a 10-6 halftime lead.

Michigan (10-2) vs. Virginia Tech (11-2) Jan. 4, 8:30, ESPN

Here's The Deal … Remember, if it's not the BCS championship, it's an exhibition game.

There might be more prestige to being in a BCS game, and there's a lot more money to throw around, but football-wise, it's about which fan bases will fill the house, and which teams will are the ones people want to see.

Is Virginia Tech more deserving of a BCS slot than Kansas State, TCU, or Boise State? Not really, but its two losses this year came to one team – Clemson – and for anyone who might argue that the only win of note came against Virginia, everyone has something against them. TCU lost to SMU and Baylor, and Boise State lost at home to TCU. This would've been Oklahoma State's spot had Oklahoma won the Bedlam rivalry, and while Kansas State has a complaint, it's not like the Hokies are coming from out of left field.

Is Michigan more deserving of a BCS slot than Michigan State? No, considering the Spartans won the head-to-head matchup and won the Legends, but the Michigan is Michigan; fair or not, the big bowls want the biggest names.

So while this might be the weakest of the BCS games from a matchup argument standpoint, all that really matters is whether or not it's interesting from a competitive one.

And for the Big Ten, all that really matters is whether or not it finally gets a big win this bowl season.

For the second straight bowl season, the Big Ten has been a complete and utter disaster with Wisconsin losing the Rose Bowl, Ohio State getting outplayed by Florida in the Gator, Nebraska being stopped by South Carolina, and Penn State not even showing up in a brutal blowout to Houston in the TicketCity. Even the one bright spot – Michigan's thriller over Georgia in the Outback – came because of an earlier missed Bulldog field goal.

The Wolverines contributed to last year's problems with a clunker against Mississippi State in the Gator, and they've been an annual sore spot for the Big Ten losing four of the last five and five of the last seven. But things appear to be different now under Brady Hoke, with a defense that's finally starting to look like a Michigan defense again, and an offense that's among the most dynamic in America thanks to the brilliance of Denard Robinson under center.

Hoke is bringing in one of the nation's top recruiting classes; Robinson is returning for his senior year; and the Wolverines will be everyone's favorite to win the 2012 Big Ten title. But all the positives and all the momentum might be stopped cold with a poor performance against the Hokies.

Virginia Tech is trying to get past an ugly bowl loss of its own, getting ripped to shreds by Andrew Luck and Stanford in last year's Orange. There haven't been any signature wins so far – beating Georgia Tech and Virginia were the only real highlights – and being outscored 61 to 13 in the two games against Clemson meant an end to any national interest – or so it seemed.

Of all the BCS teams, Virginia Tech is the biggest head scratcher, getting the coveted at-large bid despite the problems in the ACC title game, but that will all change for Frank Beamer's program with the biggest win of the year. If the Hokies pull it off, they'll have won 12 games for the first time in school history after hitting 11 several times under Beamer, including last year.

This isn't Beamer's best defense, but it's good. This isn't his best offense, but it can run. The special teams certainly aren't up to normal Hokie snuff and it took way too much of a fight to get by teams like Duke and East Carolina, but none of that will be remembered with a win.

This is Michigan's first Sugar Bowl appearance since losing to Auburn 9-7 at the end of the wild 1983 season. Virginia Tech announced its arrival as a national team with a blowout of Texas in the 1995 game, but it lost to Florida State for the national title in 2000 and gave unbeaten Auburn a push in the 2005 game. Last year's Ohio State win over Arkansas was entertaining, but the previous four were total duds. Could the Wolverines and Hokies put on a show worthy of the BCS games so far?

They'd better. There are a lot of teams out there that would've liked the shot.

Why Michigan Might Win: The Wolverine offense is humming, but did it lose its groove after the long layoff?

The attack has a square peg in a round hole at the top, but Hoke and the Michigan coaching staff made it worked. Hoke would like a pro-style passer to push things deep, and a smallish speedster running the ball, but Robinson is the type of playmaker to work everything else around. He and the offense exploded since the loss to Michigan State in mid-October with 339 rushing yards and four scores against Purdue and with 223 rushing yards or more in seven of the last ten games. More than that, Robinson has started to throw a bit better with touchdown passes in the final four games. It all starts with the ground game, and the Hokies are questionable up front.

The overall stats are terrific, but Tech had problems with Georgia Tech – like everyone does – and Clemson did whatever it wanted whenever it wanted to in the ACC title game. Michigan's defensive front is tough and physical, but against the Hokie front seven it just has to provide enough of a crease for Robinson and Fitzgerald Toussaint to move through. Considering the Tech secondary has been suspect at times – allowing 200 yards or more in four of the last five games – Robinson should be able to go up top just enough to keep everyone off the line. However …

Why Virginia Tech Might Win: The key to beating Michigan is to make Robinson an average passer, and time off might do that.

Iowa beat Michigan by getting just enough pressure to get by and because Robinson was missing everything. As he became more and more off, Iowa started cheating up more and more, and the Wolverine ground game didn't go anywhere. Meanwhile, Hawkeye back Marcus Coker came up with an effective 132 yards and two touchdowns. Virginia Tech has a back in David Wilson who can be another Coker and a workhorse who can control the game and keep Robinson off the field.

Robinson completed 17-of-37 passes against Iowa, and he was worse under pressure against Michigan State, completed 9-of-24 throws for 123 yards with a score and a pick. Just as important was the way the Spartans got the pressure up front to beat up, batter, and bruise Michigan in an intimidating – occasionally thuggish – win. Offensively, they got a huge day from back Edwin Baker. Again, the combination of a good back – like Wilson – and enough from the defense to force Robinson into a bad day - a possibility for a defense that ranks 13th in the nation in pass efficiency D thanks to a pass rush that's among the best in America.

It all starts with stopping the run, and that starts with keeping Robinson from running wild. It's no coincidence that the two Michigan loses came on two of its three worst rushing games, and the third – the heartstopping victory over Notre Dame – could've gone either way. And then there's the motivation factor.

Trying to quantify want-to is impossible, but Virginia Tech – by all accounts – really wants to win this game. Michigan does, too, but the Hokies appear to be extra motivated with the "no one thinks we should be here" belief, and it's working.

What To Watch Out For: It took a big player to fill the void left at quarterback by Tyrod Taylor, but literally, Virginia Tech got a bigger playmaker. Sophomore Logan Thomas is one of the most heralded recruits to ever sign with Tech, and he's proven to be more than just a big body and a huge arm. A solid all-around athlete in a 6-6, 254-pound frame, he became more consistent in a hurry, finishing with 2,799 yards and 19 scores with just nine picks. Bruising around the goal line with ten scores, he has the mobility to give the Wolverine defensive front a few problems. He's built like a defensive lineman, and he'll be tough to bring down in the backfield; he doesn't get intimidated by a pass rush, and he doesn't make a slew of big mistakes.

The quarterbacks might different sizes and shapes, but the star running backs are roughly the same size, and equally effective. 5-10, 195-pound Michigan sophomore Fitzgerald Toussaint went from being a garbage-time backup to one of the Big Ten's best backs, ripping off 120 yards or more in four of the last five games showing off his terrific speed and cutting ability against Illinois with 192 yards and against Purdue with 170 yards and two scores on just 20 carries. He's not going to power over anyone, but he won't need to. On the other side, the 5-10, 205-pound David Wilson will take more shots and will pinball off them from time to time. Stopped cold by Clemson with just 32 yards on 11 carries, his bad game was an anomaly after rushing for 100 yards or more in 10 of his first 12 games and running for 82 against North Carolina and 85 against Arkansas. A tremendous all-around athlete, he has blinding speed, hitting the hole and the exploding through the secondary.

If this comes down to a field goal in a tight game – a norm this bowl season – Michigan has a huge advantage. Michigan's Brendan Gibbons has connected on 10-of-14 field goals, and while he's not a special kicker with makeable misses over the course of the season, he's steadier than what Virginia Tech has. The Hokies are hitting a Spinal Tap drummer moment with kickers, losing Tyler Weiss for breaking curfew, and worse, starter Cody Journell was arrested, charged, and arraigned for allegedly breaking into a house. Now it'll be up to Justin Myer, who has a huge, booming leg, but isn't proven in the clutch.

What Will Happen: It'll be a much better game than expected. The offensive stars will all shine, but they won't blow up. This won't be a shootout and there won't be too many home runs, but it'll be nip-and-tuck throughout with each side making a few key mistakes. Just when it'll seem like Michigan has control, Robinson will throw a bad pick. Just when it seems like the Hokies will have the momentum, Mike Martin and the Wolverine defensive front will come up with a big play. Robinson will overcome three turnovers to lead the offense on two late marches for a good, tough, win – and redemption.

CFN Prediction: Michigan 27 … Virginia Tech 20
- Click For Latest Line From ATS: Michigan -2   O/U: 51.5

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Virginia Tech's defense isn't the Virginia Tech defense that normally crushes and kills offenses dead, even though the stats might show otherwise. Michigan will prove it belonged in the Big Ten title game and will be one of the hottest teams going into the 2012 offseason after Denard Robinson runs for 100 yards in a scintillating win.
By Richard Cirminiello 
For a month, Virginia Tech will hear how it's the poster child of all that's wrong with the BCS … and it'll serve as the perfect motivation to beat the Wolverines.

By Matt Zemek
In a word, disgraceful. Don't watch this game if you're not paid to cover it. The BCS and the Sugar Bowl Committee should be ashamed of themselves (but naturally won't be).

By: Barrett Sallee
Follow me on Twitter: @BarrettSallee  
I defend the BCS a lot, and will only settle for a Plus 1 playoff; but the BCS messed this one up. I can't explain how Virginia Tech got a Sugar Bowl bid.

By Russ Mitchell
You saw this coming, right. Two programs that travel very well, and a Michigan fan base that's gagging at the chance to return to a BCS game. Both teams earned this by finishing in the top teens...Ah... Yeah. The Sugar Bowl should make mint off this game... Great for CFB.

By Terry Johnson
Despite all of the controversy surrounding Virginia Tech's selection as an at-large team, the Sugar Bowl will provide plenty of entertainment, as the game features two of the nation's most explosive players in Michigan's Denard Robinson and Virginia Tech's David Wilson.

By Phil Harrison
Follow me on Twitter @PhilHarrisonCFN
This is likely the dud of the BCS games, as two teams just happy to get in to the BCS game and end up playing each other. Still, Michigan is back and almost everyone will jump at the chance to see Denard Robinson "lace" ‘em up again
Best Bowl Moments

Best Wolverine Bowl Moment: 40 bowl games, 19 bowl victories and 20 trips to Pasadena ensure there are plenty of viable candidates. Slipping by Alabama in overtime in the 2000 Orange Bowl. Beating Washington in 1981, the school's first Rose Bowl win in 16 years. Or, try this: capping a perfect 1947 season by trouncing USC, 49-0. Still, it's tough to deny the 1997 squad, which got past Washington State 21-16 in the Rose Bowl. While it wasn't the sharpest Wolverine effort, it was enough to give the program its first national title in nearly half a century.

Best Hokie Bowl Moment: Meeting Florida State for the national championship in the 2000 Sugar Bowl was quite an accomplishment, but whooping a one-loss Texas team in the 1995 game was even better. Led by big plays from receiver Bryan Still and an attacking defense, the Big East champs won their tenth straight game, earning a second helping of national respect.

Sugar Bowl History
2011 Ohio State 31, Arkansas 26
2010 Florida 51, Cincinnati 24
2009 Utah 31, Alabama 17
2008 Georgia 41, Hawaii 10
2007 LSU 41, Notre Dame 14
2006 West Virginia 38, Georgia 35
2005 Auburn 16, Virginia Tech 13
2004 LSU 21, Oklahoma 14
2003 Georgia 26, Florida State 13
2002 LSU 47, Illinois 34
2001 Miami 37, Florida 20
2000 Florida St 46, Virginia Tech 29
1999 Ohio State 24, Texas A&M 14
1998 Florida State 31, Ohio State 14
1997 Florida 52, Florida State 20
1995 Virginia Tech 28, Texas 10
1995 Florida State 23, Florida 17
1994 Florida 41, West Virginia 7
1993 Alabama 34, Miami 13
1992 Notre Dame 39, Florida 28
1991 Tennessee 23, Virginia 22
1990 Miami 33, Alabama 25
1989 Florida State 13, Auburn 7
1988 Auburn 16, Syracuse 16
1987 Nebraska 30, LSU 15
1986 Tennessee 35, Miami 7
1985 Nebraska 28, LSU 10
1984 Auburn 9, Michigan 7
1983 Penn State 27, Georgia 23
1982 Pittsburgh 24, Georgia 20
1981 Georgia 17, Notre Dame 10
1980 Alabama 24, Arkansas 9
1979 Alabama 14, Penn State 7
1978 Alabama 35, Ohio State 6
1977 Pittsburgh 27, Georgia 3
1975 Alabama 13, Penn State 6
1974 Nebraska 13, Florida 10
1973 Notre Dame 24, Alabama 23
1972 Oklahoma 40, Auburn 22
1972 Oklahoma 14, Penn State 0
1971 Tennessee 34, Air Force 13
1970 Mississippi 27, Arkansas 22
1969 Arkansas 16, Georgia 2
1968 LSU 20, Wyoming 13
1967 Alabama 34, Nebraska 7
1966 Missouri 20, Florida 18
1965 LSU 13, Syracuse 10
1964 Alabama 12, Mississippi 7
1963 Mississippi 17, Arkansas 3
1962 Alabama 10, Arkansas 3
1961 Mississippi 14, Rice 6
1960 Mississippi 21, LSU 0
1959 LSU 7, Clemson 0
1958 Mississippi 39, Texas 7
1957 Baylor 13, Tennessee 7
1956 Georgia Tech 7, Pittsburgh 0
1955 Navy 21, Mississippi 0
1954 Georgia Tech 42, W Virginia 19
1953 Georgia Tech 24, Mississippi 7
1952 Maryland 28, Tennessee 13
1951 Kentucky 13, Oklahoma 7
1950 Oklahoma 35, LSU 0
1949 Oklahoma 14, North Carolina 6
1948 Texas 27, Alabama 7
1947 Georgia 20, North Carolina 10
1946 Oklahoma State 33, St Mary's (Colorado) 13
1945 Duke 29, Alabama 26
1944 Georgia Tech 20, Tulsa 18
1943 Tennessee 14, Tulsa 7
1942 Fordham 2, Missouri 0
1941 Boston Coll 19, Tennessee 13
1940 Texas A&M 14, Tulane 13
1939 TCU 15, Carnegie Mellon 7
1938 Santa Clara 6, LSU 0
1937 Santa Clara 21, LSU 14
1936 TCU 3, LSU 2
1935 Tulane 20, Temple 14

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