Category Archives: NCAA Football

Michigan Beats Notre Dame 38-34 in Thriller at the Big House

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Michigan football is back.

After the worst season in school history in 2008, the Wolverines are 3-0. For an alum like myself, it feels good.

The blowout victory over Western Michigan in the season opener was great — regardless of the quality of the opponent, it showed that the offense was at least competent this year. It showed that the defensive players seemed more aware of their assignments, even if they were sloppy at times. And most importantly, and this can’t be stressed enough after last season, it showed that Michigan has dangerous and effective quarterbacks.

That’s right, it took all of one week for true freshman quarterback Tate Forcier to win over the Maize and Blue faithful. He dazzled in his debut, throwing three touchdown passes and no interceptions.

One week later, he’d announce himself to the rest of the country.

Playing at home against then-No. 18 Notre Dame, Forcier led Michigan to a thrilling 38-34 win, taking the team down the field and throwing a touchdown pass with just 11 seconds left.

The win was Michigan’s biggest since Lloyd Carr’s final game, when the Wolverines sent out the longtime coach with an improbable bowl win over Florida. (Yes, there was the wild, come-from-behind win against Wisconsin last season, when Michigan erased a 19-point halftime deficit to win 27-25. But remember, Michigan went 3-9 last year. In the end, none of the games were “big.”)

Against the Irish, the Big House was rockin’ when Darryl Stonum took a kickoff 94 yards for a score to give the Maize and Blue a 14-3 first quarter lead; it was shaking when Forcier broke an Irish defender’s ankles en route to a 31-yard rushing TD in the fourth; and the stadium, new luxury boxes and all, almost crumbled when the freshman phenom found Greg Mathews in the endzone in the game’s final moments.

Michigan fans hope for a safety as Notre Dame prepares for a snap in the third quarter. Note the luxury suites that are still under construction.

Remember earlier I said that Michigan now has dangerous and effective quarterbacks. Forcier’s great play may have overshadowed the Wolverines’ other true freshman signal-caller, speedster Denard Robinson.

In the opener, Robinson was electric. He ran 11 times for 74 yards, including a jaw-dropping 43-yard touchdown run. He didn’t see the field much against Notre Dame, but rushed for two more TDs against Eastern Michigan in a 45-17 win last week. He hasn’t gotten a chance to throw the ball too much yet, but it’s clear he has all the tools to be a star.

Is Michigan primed for a BCS bowl? Certainly not. Penn State and Ohio State are still a cut above the Wolverines, though Michigan does draw both those schools at home this season, so stealing a victory isn’t out of the question.

There’s no sense in looking even that far ahead though. A less-than-stellar Indiana team comes to the Big House this Saturday before Michigan and its many freshmen make their first road trip of the season, travelling to East Lansing to take on Michigan State on October 3.

Given the way it has begun, as long as expectations don’t get unreasonably high midway through the season, 2009 will likely be viewed as a success, a step in the right direction in Rich Rodriguez’s second season in Ann Arbor.

In the meantime, as the crowd chanted following the victory over Notre Dame: It’s great to be a Michigan Wolverine.

Michigan fans go wild as the players meet in the middle of the field to celebrate the win over Notre Dame.

Virginia Techs Amazing 16-15 Comeback Win Over Nebraska and How I Missed It

The following post was written by Robert Miller.

BLACKSBURG, Va. — A stunning turn of events at the end of the game…and I missed it!

My two and half year old daughter and I attended our first Virginia Tech home game today. What’s more, it was her first college football game so I wanted to make sure it was a positive experience. We took a shuttle bus from our apartment to the game. I had predetermined that we would leave the game once it was uncompetitive so that we would not be stuck in a long line to get on the returning shuttle bus. This line of thinking was based on numerous experiences at Notre Dame where the post-game shuttle bus lines are so long that walking two miles back is faster than waiting for the shuttle.

Prior to today, my college football experience consisted of 20+ Notre Dame games in South Bend including a Nebraska overtime loss, two ND games at the Big House in Michigan, one ND game at Giants Stadium, and a Navy game at Boston College.

Without question, Lane Stadium today was the most energized stadium I had ever experienced at the opening of a game. The following video was taken prior to the teams taking the field and includes Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” blaring on the loud speakers. Needless to say, Hokie fans were jacked up.

Virginia Tech started with a bang by taking the kickoff deep into Nebraska territory and then quickly scoring a TD to make it 7-0. Virginia Tech’s subsequent field goal in the second quarter came on a drive anchored by a 46 yard run by Ryan Williams. However, discount that big run by Williams and the Hokie offense was ineffective the entire game; that is until the end when it mattered most.

Despite the game-winning drive, the real story of the game was Virginia Tech’s defense. The Hokies held Nebraska to five field goals, keeping the Cornhuskers out of the endzone despite their two trips inside the ten yard line. The following picture was taken in the second quarter and shows how close Nebraska came to scoring before eventually settling for a field goal.
Virginia Tech’s defense was looking tired by the end of the third quarter. They let up some big plays but never let Nebraska into the end zone. Roy Helu Jr.’s 169 yards rushing were impressive but the Cornhuskers did not have a passing game to complement him. Quarterback Zac Lee’s inconsistent play — including numerous errant passes to wide open receivers — cost his team the game. Lee’s best pass was a TD toss that was called back on a holding penalty. The following picture was taken on that key drive in the third quarter where Tech’s defense held Nebraska to yet another field goal.
Fast forward to the end of the fourth quarter — with about two minutes to go Virginia Tech fails to convert on a fourth and nine. Despite Tech’s three remaining timeouts, I heavily weighted Tech’s stagnant offense and let visions of long shuttle bus lines cloud my judgment.

My daughter and I left the game with two minutes to go.

Subsequently, we spent thirty minutes looking for our shuttle bus only to discover that it was not going to leave until 15 minutes after the game. Meanwhile, I could hear the excitement in the stadium, including two thunderous explosions from the crowd — one after an 81-yard Tyrod Taylor pass to the Nebraska three yard line and another after an 11-yard TD pass to Dyrell Roberts — both of which took place directly in front our end zone seats!

My excitement for Tech quickly turned to frustration because instead of wandering aimlessly around the stadium, we could have been experiencing one of the greatest finishes ever!

Needless to say, I will not make the same mistake next week when Tech plays the U at home. My biggest disappointment is not capturing pictures and videos of the final moments to share with you on this blog.

Virginia Tech’s victory over a Nebraska team with a stout defense and a strong running game should boost the ACC’s standing amongst BCS conferences. In addition, Tech will be on the fast track to the ACC title game if it can beat Miami next weekend. Nebraska, on the other hand, is likely to regret all of the missed opportunities it had in the red zone but should experience success in the Big 12 North.

–Robert Miller

Check out the following related posts:

College Football – Virginia Tech defeats Marshall 52-10

The following post was written by Robert Miller.

Looking to rebound after a tough loss against Alabama last week, the Virginia Tech Hokies were expected to dominate against the Marshall Thundering Herd. In particular, red shirt freshman Ryan Williams was expected to perform well after gaining 71 yards and scoring two touchdowns against Alabama’s stout defense.

Marshall was forced to punt on six of its seven first half drives and struggled to put together a long, multi-play drive. Marshall finally broke through Tech’s defense on its sixth drive when Darius Marshall ran 61 yards for a touchdown. Throughout the first half, Tech’s defense maintained pressure on Marshall’s QB Anderson and locked up the Thundering Herd running backs.

Virginia Tech punted on its first drive that included Tyrod Taylor missing on two deep passes. However, Taylor got the offense going with a 46 yard run on their second drive. Unfortunately for Tech, Taylor’s accurate but soft pass into the end zone was intercepted by a diving DeQuan Bembry of Marshall.

Virginia Tech broke the scoreless tie on its third drive when it scored on the first play from scrimmage with an electric 57 yard TD run from Ryan Williams. Virgina Tech scored again on its fourth drive that was anchored by Tyrod Taylor throwing accurate passes, running the option, and handing the ball off to Josh Oglesby and Williams. Williams finished the drive with a four yard TD run.
Tech broke the game wide open when Jayron Hosley ran a punt back 64 yards untouched for a touchdown; to make it 21-0. After being forced to punt, Taylor completed a 43 yard pass to Danny Coale and Williams subsequently punched it in with a 28 yard TD run. Tech finished the half up 35-7 after a final drive that included a successful fourth down attempt and a 21 yard TD pass to Dyrell Roberts. With the game in hand, I turned my eye to the Notre Dame vs. Michigan game.

In sum, Virginia Tech’s passing game started slowly but established a rhythm by the end of the first half. Tech’s option and running games consistently found holes in Marshall’s defense. Specifically, Ryan Williams tore up Marshall’s defense with 164 yards rushing and three touchdowns. Tech needs to continue improving its passing game so that other teams are unable to apply extra attention to its running game. Nebraska is sure to key in on Williams and force Taylor to throw it more than he had to against Marshall. Finally, Tech’s defense and special teams look ready to go against the Cornhuskers.

–Robert Miller