Football Forever

Submitted by Ace on November 10th, 2012 at 4:06 PM


A referee makes an arbitrary approximation of the spot of the football as Kain Colter is brought to the turf. A couple of guys dressed like crossing guards then take out an extremely precise ten-yard chain. The referee, staring at the football like it's the bottom line of an eye chart, determines that the play has resulted in a first down by the smallest of possible margins. For all intents and purposes, the game is over, decided by an educated guess made at breakneck speed.

Football is the worst.

The contest continues, however, and Michigan sells out against the run for a stop. For a moment, it looks like Jeremy Gallon could provide a miracle as he briefly breaks free after fielding a line-drive punt, but he's tackled at the 38.

18 seconds remain. No timeouts remain. Little hope remains.

But then the backup quarterback hucks the football to the impossibly-skinny senior receiver, improbably left in single coverage, and this wisp of a man somehow bats the oblong projectile out of the air and controls the ricochet, an absurd feat of concentration and athleticism that brings 110,000 despondent humans screaming to their feet in elation.

Football is the best.

From that point, victory feels strangely academic given the prior proceedings. Brendan Gibbons, Keith Stone cool, splits the uprights from 26 yards out for the tying field goal. Three plays after Devin Gardner finds Roundtree again to give Michigan first-and-goal on the opening overtime possession, he fakes a give to Fitz Toussaint, breaks contain, and lopes into the end zone unimpeded. Northwestern can only get within two yards of that blasted first-down marker on their subsequent series before Kenny Demens stonewalls Tyris Jones in the hole on fourth down.

The stadium erupts, again hopelessly in love with the greatest game known to man. Michigan 38, Northwestern 31, football forever.


kevin holt

November 10th, 2012 at 4:28 PM ^

Seriously though, that ball spot was damn close and I understand it. However, before their go-ahead touchdown, did they not give NW an extra half yard after we had them totally stopped? Or am I crazy? And if so, why wasn't that one reviewed instead of the later one?


November 10th, 2012 at 4:31 PM ^

I'm just so happy how that game ended. We clinched victory from the depths of defeat. Incredible win and the best part of the game was the experiences that our players will gain for the remainder of the season and going into next year. 


November 10th, 2012 at 4:31 PM ^

This team stood together and made me as proud as a new daddy. That win had to be the hardest fought win I have ever seen but I knew NW was in trouble in OT. They were looking forward to that OT like I was my 4th hip replacement surgery.   

Ron Utah

November 11th, 2012 at 12:46 AM ^

I referenced this in the liveblog...I finally feel like we got a little of that play back.  Although this meant a lot less, in the scheme of things.

That said, we're now looking at a probable 8-4 instead of 7-5...that's a pretty big difference.  And we still have a glimmer of hope of winning the B1G.  Go Minnesota?  Ummmm...


November 10th, 2012 at 5:03 PM ^

I think we should start a tradition similar to Wisconsin where they jump up and down to "jump around" after the third quarter. Instead we will jump up and down exactly like Fitzgerald while showing his antics on the jumbotron.



November 10th, 2012 at 5:09 PM ^

Ace, I congratulate u for translating my thoughts into the most beautiful poetry.. Michigan poetry.. Boy now I understand why I love Michigan football.. Go Blue


November 10th, 2012 at 5:21 PM ^

I think that last defensive play is going to be big RPS+. Defensive ends playing very wide, only 3 down linemen, basically begging NW to do the one thing we can confidently stop: run up the middle. They did exactly that and Demens got a free release on the runner. Great call, especially given how we were giving up the edge all day


November 10th, 2012 at 5:34 PM ^

Incredibly written piece.

On a football note... I'm extremely glad that the defense that had me frustrated to the point of not cheering all game long is the group that had the chance to, and eventually won the game.

Seriously, how did they fool us with the pitch all game long?


November 10th, 2012 at 5:58 PM ^

As everyone has already said, this was a great piece of writing and spot on.

I am looking forward to the Mathlete's graph of winning probabilities minute-by-minute for this game.  I think it will be almost UTLish.  (Not quite, but almost.)


November 10th, 2012 at 6:14 PM ^

Per the comments, Fitz might have had an odd reaction today. When I was at NU Fitz was D coordinator. He was always very polite to my teammates and I. Many football people would ignore other athletes but Fitz always said a genuine hi. I had an issue with my otherwise excellent roommates (FB players) paying their share of the cable bill and Fitz went out of his way to know about it and made certain they paid immediately. I didn't even have to raise the issue with them. Fitz was quality.


November 10th, 2012 at 6:33 PM ^

This encapsulates all that keeps us coming back.  I accidentally scared my young children who were adorably reading on the couch when Roundtree did what he did.  They recovered sufficiently to help me sing a few minutes later.



November 10th, 2012 at 6:33 PM ^

OP summed up the day perfectly. Well written/done. I've been down on both Demens and Roundtree, yet both did their best when it mattered most. Hail!


November 10th, 2012 at 6:36 PM ^

I love when they measure for the first down. The referee arbitrarily determines where the ball is placed, and then they attempt to make it precise by measuring. Except they trot the whole chain gang out on the field, which means the spot where the chains are placed may be off an inch or two from the comparison set on the sideline. Every time they try to measure, I laugh. So much depends upon a referee spotting.

Obviously we need to move to a radiofrequency chip implanted inside the ball with sensors in the field that can triangulate the exact position of the ball and so therefore determine forward progress perfectly on review. WE HAVE THE SCIENCE TO DO THIS!


November 10th, 2012 at 6:54 PM ^

Thank you Ace. I'm driving home to Cleveland now from the game and you have eloquently and beautifully captured my emotions in prose.

That's what great writers can do.

Bill the Butcher

November 11th, 2012 at 8:37 AM ^

I don't think they do.  The great play by Black had that play dead to rights.  He had the qb, and Kovacs was shooting outside for the pitch man, and obviously, demens had the fullback.  Ryan got cut and stayed on his feet, so he was there to help demens or break outside and help Kovacs deal with the pitch man.  I think it was a great call by mattison and an excellent play by Black that made it work.


November 10th, 2012 at 7:57 PM ^

at 5:30am local I fell asleep after they got the 4th and 1 conversion.  I'm shocked.  Amazed.  And alabama lost?! WOOOOOO FOOOTBAAAAAAAALLLLL!!! It's 10am now, and this is awesome.