Live Blog: Sugar Bowl

The Michigan-Virginia Tech matchup in the Sugar Bowl kicks off in a few minutes. The Notebook preview is right here. The live blog starts shortly.

*As a footnote, if at any point this live blog goes still for an extended period of time, it means the Internet connection up in northern Wisconsin had problems.

Michigan starts at their own 35

Fabulous insight by Holly Rowe about the importance of Michigan’s center not playing, and then a bad snap forcing a punt.

Can we please stop calling Denard Robinson “Mr. Excitement” though. As dual threat quarterbacks go, he’s no better than third or fourth best if we put him in the Big 12, much less the nation.

Virginia Tech ball, their own 34

TERRIBLE TACKLING by Michigan. A bad pass by Thomas that Danny Coale has to catch from behind, then the secondary takes turns blowing the tackle on 2nd-14. Nice sweep by Wilson follows and VT is threatening.

More bad tackling by Michigan. Wilson should’ve been stopped and set up 3rd-and-4. Instead its 3rd-and-inches. The ghost of Rich Rod must be in the house tonight.

Wilson consistently beating Michigan’s defenders to the edge. Scheme or speed? I don’t know.

Least prescient comment is the one above. Wilson goes outside and gets chased down for 15-yard loss.

Delay of game. VT is putting a clinic in self-destruction in two quick plays.

Check that, a 22-yard loss.

Play it safe on 3rd and 20. Like the QB draw call. Just cut your losses and kick the field goal.

Noted in the preview this is a third-string kicker. Hits a 37-yarder down the chute. 3-0 Virginia Tech.

Beamer special teams coverage in place, Michigan only gets out to the 15-yard line at 7:00 mark.

Then a penalty pushes it back half the distance. So far its key mistakes for Va Tech and Michigan looking like they’re still mentally in the locker room.

The center is back. Are we talking emotional lift here? The bloody sock moment of the Michigan Wolverines?

Nice sharp throw by Robinson on the slant. VT’s defense looks good, but big conversion from Denard.

Love Ron Franklin and Todd Blackledge talking about how big an impact Toussaint had on Michigan’s success down the stretch. Something talked about in the Notebook preview. And since I’m rooting for Virginia Tech I also love that interception on a deep post that Denard threw up for grabs.

FYI—my reasons for rooting for VT are that a good friend of mine is a Hokie fan and at the game. And even though I’m a Wisconsin fan and generally like the Big Ten, Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State and now Nebraska are the elites of the conference and I pride myself on being a populist. VT fits the criteria of Wisconsin, the middle class type that made good and triumphed over the establishment.

The above paragraph reminds me I should be a responsible citizen and see what’s happening in the Iowa caucuses.

Tech ball at their own 28, 4:14 left 1Q

Another bad pass by Thomas with Coale wide open on the fly. The people being vindicated in the early part of this game are those who wanted Boise State and Kansas State to play.

Nice throw by Thomas! And a nice catch by Coale! A 3rd-20 post pattern gets 27 yards.

What I said earlier about Michigan not getting to the edge defensively is officially reversed. Wilson cut off very quickly again.

Let me see a replay on that long pass to the sideline. Hard to imagine he didn’t have a foot down…just saw the replay, never mind. This is why you don’t make calls from your armchair at full speed when the camera’s on the other side of the field.

And again, Thomas hits Coale to the outside and converts a 3rd-and-long.

Hate to harp on it this early in the game, but the Michigan secondary is either blowing coverages or tackles on any given pass play.

As bad as Michigan has been in the back of the defense, they’ve been as good up front and that’s where the emphasis does have to be. First quarter ends, 3-0 VT.


4th and 2 just outside the 25. Hate to go to the well with the untested kicker, but you need the points. That’s what Beamer is going to do…Wow, he hit it again. 6-0 Virginia Tech.

Special teams mistake kicks ball out of bounds. Michigan ball at the 40, 14:10 mark 2Q

That screen fooled no one…great pursuit.

Ron Franklin felt like Michigan had an “imperative “to convert the third down they just did. Ron, you’re a solid announcer, but come on, it’s 6-0 and VT can’t run the ball yet.

Franklin and Blackledge just referenced VT’s last Sugar Bowl appearance against Auburn in 2004. Forgotten is that Michigan’s last appearance here was also against Auburn in 1983. Both years, the Tigers got robbed.

VT forces a punt, takes over at their own 25, 11:28 left 2Q.

Still nothing going on the ground with Wilson. But another 3rd-long conversion to Coale. This offense can’t sustain itself. Reminds me of the way Michigan started the 1986 Rose Bowl against Arizona State when Jim Harbaugh kept converting third and longs. Eventually that ran out and ASU won the game.

Wilson, not wanting to confine Tech to the ignominy of the ’86 Wolverines breaks a big run to the Mich 25.

Another big run to the outside down to the 10. This is Michigan’s worst nightmare. Looks like they’re about to set up 4th-and-short on the 5.

KICK THE FIELD GOAL!!! This isn’t like yesterday’s games. You need the points. And it doesn’t look like he got it…waiting to see on the spot. Chains coming in.

Well short. A field goal and nine-point lead would have been huge.

Michigan ball, their own 4, 6:51 left 2Q

When anyone else hears Blackledge call a game in New Orleans, do they think of the ’82 Sugar Bowl when he rifled four downfield strikes to set the tone against Georgia and help Penn State win Paterno’s first national championship? I must be in serious retro mode tonight. I’ve thought of bowl games from 1982, 1983 and 1986 and we aren’t even to halftime.

And while I’m in retro, Michigan is smartly giving the ball to Toussaint. Got some breathing room.

Virginia Tech’s defense just looks very fundamentally sound with the way they wrap up. It won’t be until any of the NFL prospects get to the next level that they’ll learn the art of the arm tackle.

Roughing the punter bails out Michigan. Excellent analysis by Blackledge in that the Tech man took a bad angle and kudos to Beamer for chewing out his player and not the ref.

I’m watching this Mayhem commercials for AllState and getting sick of them. That actor’s fallen a long way from a more dignified role as the ADA in Law & Order that succeeded Jack McCoy. Although he’s probably making a ton of money.

3rd-and-short for Michigan as they inch up to midfield, nearing three-minute mark.

Involve Toussaint and good things happen. Denard hits him on a nice little pass to get inside the VT 40.

Blackledge is crazy in saying that Mich needs to throw on first down…and I really was typing that as Robinson got sacked.

I’m reconciling myself to the fact that I’m going to spend the balance of this game screaming for Toussaint to get the ball more than on a change of pace basis…but what a bleepin’ throw by Robinson! Dead and buried he gets out and hits Hemingway for a touchdown!

What this means though as Michigan having the lead means they need to run Toussaint more…see, I need a shorthand way of saying this so I don’t have to keep spelling his name.

7-6 Michigan.

Huge fumble by Virginia Tech and an inexcusable mental blunder with only 38 seconds left in the half…Flag is down. Not sure what…on VT. BRUTAL! Two special teams blunders for the team renowned for its special teams excellence.

That reverse was the most ill-advised risk taken yet tonight. They’re lucky they didn’t get pushed out of field goal range. VT hasn’t gotten to the end zone yet. If you’re Michigan make sure you get a field goal and stretch the lead to four.

Near carbon copy of the touchdown pass, only this time the VT defender gets a hand in there at the last second. 24 secnods left, ball at Tech 20.

Hoke has lost his mind throwing this aggressively. Denard nearly threw another pick on a third down. Trying a field goal with 19 seconds left…they fake it.

OH MY GOSH! The play blows up in Michigan’s face and somehow a pass gets tossed up for grabs and caught  in traffic. Did Brady Hoke do novenas all morning or something?

8 seconds left, Michigan unbelievably has it just outside the 10.

Field goal unit out on the field for 19-yard try. What more bizarre can happen in the next two seconds…don’t know if delay of game qualifies, but heaven forbid this be normal…hits the field goal.

10-6 Michigan as we go to halftime.

Incidentially, it’s a dead heat in Iowa between Romney, Santorum and Paul. Gonna take a break for popcorn and check out some political news.


Ready for the second half.

Did Ron Franklin really utter this sentence “When you do the Hokie Pokie you eventually turn yourself around?” Yes, I get the song that this comes from, but wow…

VT will start about their own 30

3rd and about 3. Run Coale over the middle, Boykin deep and let Thomas pick the open man…Michigan takes a page from the Bret Bielama school of clock management and burns a timeout.

Some nice tackling by Michigan finally as Thomas tried to step up in the pocket and run.

Michigan ball at their own 27, 13-plus minutes left in 3Q

Toussaint on first down goes nowhere. Just as I predicted.

TERRIBLE PASS BY ROBINSON! He could not have underthrown that slant any worse. Intercepted, VT ball…although this may not stand up on replay…honestly looks like it hit the ground to me.

Good call in overturning the INT. 3rd-and-11 now.

Robinson sacked, perfect pass rush—gut pressure, nowhere to escape. From what Blackledge is saying they left almost no one in coverage.

VT ball on the 49-yard line, 11:45 mark 3Q

Could Thomas have thrown a worse pass—right in the hands of a linebacker. Michigan ball on the 35, 11:39 left.

Beamer makes his own trip to Bielama’s Clock Management masters program and burns a timeout in a defensive game that he trails in.

The way the Tech offense is having trouble finishing, we could be talking ballgame if Michigan puts it in the end zone.

Another atrocious pass by Robinson, intercepted down the field…waiting to see on the penalty…looking like its on VT, and it’s pass interference. Oh my gosh, yeah, the defensive back could be charged with a  few counts of assault.

THAT WAS A GREAT CATCH! Hemingway had the narrowest of windows to pull it down in the back of the end zone. This is really looking like Michigan’s night.

VT Ball now with 9:31 left, after a nice run on the outside by Wilson

And Virginia Tech suddenly found the running game…did Michigan lose some intensity up front?

Tech inside the Michigan 40.

Much better pursuit and tackling by Michigan in the secondary. Although the offsides sets up 2nd-2.

Beautiful open field tackle by Michigan sets up 4th-and-1 just outside the 20. Hmm, I don’t know what I’d do here…I guess kick the field goal, but no second guess if he goes for it.

Beamer is kicking…Unbelievable, another made FG by the kicker I thought would cost VT the game. 17-9 Michigan.

Michigan ball at their own 23, 4:40 left 3Q

Will it finally be Touissant Time? Five yards on first down.

It’s not Tous Time after all (finally came up with my shorthand). Stuffed him once, incompletion, punt. VT ball at their own 39, 3:00 left 3Q

Great run by Thomas! Just when I was about to praise Michigan’s defense, Thomas makes a great scramble on 3rd and long.

It’ll be 3rd and long just inside midfield as the third quarter ends. 17-9 Michigan.


Inside handoff picks up the first down. Suggests to me that this was 2-down territory.

Looked like he had his man over the middle, but replay shows the pressure came and probably should’ve had an interception on an underthrown ball. Now a sack sets up 3rd down on the 35. VT cannot keep going to the well with the kicker.

4th and 11 at 35. I’d go for it here. They’ve had success throwing down the field. And they do plan to go for it…

WOW WOW WOW WOW!!!!!! He scrambles for the first!

Inside the 10-yard line. Gotta think four downs to get in here on 1st and goal.

What the hell are they doing throwing! Think four downs and the running game is starting to work!!!

Third and goal on the nine. Hate the play-calling here. Beamer needs to hire Ralph Friedgen as his offensive coordinator. They’re good friends and the Fridge covers for Beamer’s weakness. Besides, the way Maryland tanked under Edsall, maybe people realize the Fridge knew what he was doing.

Incomplete pass, but now it’s Michigan with a pass interference penalty in the end zone bails out Hokies. 1st and goal on 2.

Now run it four freaking times!

That’s one time. Inside the one.

Quarterback sneak for the touchdown . Presume a 2-point conversion is coming. Here I would get creative and do something outside with Thomas.

Spreading field in shotgun. Great catch in the end zone! 17-17 tie.

Here we go again, another major bowl barnburner in the fourth quarter!

This is a great game, but it has to be said again that if I were a fan of K-State or Boise State I’d be getting progressively more annoyed as the game rolls on. This is great Gator Bowl-type game right now.

Michigan ball at the 20, 10:16 left.

For as much as Blackledge and Franklin keep carrying on about Robinson’s rushing, you know how many times he ran for 100 yards in the eight Big Ten games? Twice. That’s it. All the while he threw for over 200 yards only once. A defense that knows what it’s doing can contain him and that’s why Tous Time is some important for UM. And they just went three and out and the momentum is decisively swinging the other way.

To put the above stats about Denard in perspective, K-State’s Collin Klein rushed for 100-plus three times in nine Big 12 games and was over 90 two more. I didn’t even choose RG3 as the point of comparison and Denard still comes up short.

I’ve now guaranteed Robinson will make a spectacular play with his feet to win the game.

While I was ranting, VT has the ball just outside the 50, 9:01 left and 2nd down and short.

Big stop by Michigan. 4th and 1 on the Mich 46. Agree with Blackledge you HAVE to punt here. I understand you hate to do it, but to burn a timeout thinking about the obvious is stupid. Bielama is smiling again.

They are he fakes it, comes up short, then fumbles. I have no idea if that was called or not, but Franklin dead on in noting that’s the third HUGE special teams miscue by a team that has to win that area to win big games.

Michigan ball at VT 45 with 7:21 left.

First down at the 34. They are in field goal range. I am getting more riled up about that fake punt call the more I think about it. I wonder if Beamer has had so much frustration in major bowls that he’s getting overly tight and not trusting his defense?

A legitimately solid play by Robinson with his legs to avoid the heat and pick up the first down. I knew all I had to do was expend all kinds of energy about how overrated he was and he’d make a play.

If I’m Virginia Tech I use my timeouts here as we go under the five minute mark. Wait, they were burned for no good reason. Only one left. 3rd and 8 coming…

Great move by Foster to drop and play coverage. Nothing there.  39-yard field goal try, got it. 20-17 Michigan.

Fantastic coverage by Michigan. VT with ball at own 16 with 3:53 left…and penalty marker down…holding on VT. Ball will be marked on the 8.

If it makes Beamer feel any better, the drive that made Joe Montana famous against Dallas in 1981 was 92 yards.

I like they came out and ran with Wilson. Even with only one timeout, you have to use your entire offense as long as you can and they only need a field goal.

Besides, the way this game is going, if you run and throw slants over the middle, you’re one missed tackle away from taking one to the house on the cheap.

And he hits Coale down the sideline, and the Hokies are in Michigan territory. 2:35 left, let’s say we need the 25-yard line to set up a solid field goal try.

Great throw by Thomas to the outside to Coale. Put in a narrow window near the sideline just beyond the marker.

No doubt he’s inbounds even as they review it. Now if you’re Beamer get yourself set up with a few plays that you can think about playing to win right here. This is the timeout break you’re thankfully getting back.

Looked like the receiver might have been able to make the play in the corner of the end zone. Agree with the play call and with Blackledge that think about staying aggressive and going for the win. Now you do need a few more yards to set it up though…There’s the slant and missed tackle! Ball inside the 20.

Ran it to Wilson, but I don’t see it as conservative. They were in a shotgun trying to spread it out. Maybe ran that play one down too early. Under a minute left. Quick throw to Coale, third and short.

If you get to within a yard of the first down here, go for it on 4th down. Then again, a false start will kill you.

Now Thomas has to be careful. Can’t force a throw. The penalty changed the whole dynamic.

Short pass sets up 4th-and-1. I understand you take the field goal here, but I’d forgive Beamer if he went for it. Letting the clock run down inside ten seconds.

For the record, bookmakers are probably praying for OT. Michigan is (-3) and if it ends as a push all bets have to be returned. No juice, no profit.

GOT IT! Overtime! Well, after the kickoff and last two seconds. Unless there’s a miracle, the next comment will come to start OT. 20-20 tie.


Virginia Tech starting with the ball

Normally don’t suggest this, but conservatism might work in this overtime. Offenses having a tough time finishing. 3rd and 5 after two Wilson runs.

WOW! I’m sitting in a quiet house, the only one awake and just shouted aloud after that catch by Coale.

Going to the replay. Close call. You know it may have hit the ground, but I have not seen an angle yet where I can be sure.

The call on the field should stand. Maybe not be confirmed, but it should stand. (And if I had to bet, I think he did make the catch).


He missed the field goal. A bad call with a full use of instant replay is going to decide this game.

Michigan ball

37-yard field goal, straight on to win it after three rightfully conservative play calls.

Ball game.

Worst call to decide a bowl game since the Phantom Touchdown decided the Rose Bowl in 1978. All I can say is that Michigan was on the wrong side of that one. Maybe they just waited 33 years for payback.

See you tomorrow for the Orange Bowl.