But did Michigan deserve to win?

Submitted by Erik_in_Dayton on January 4th, 2012 at 11:13 AM

Reading the blog leaves me with the impression that a good many people have the lingering doubt that I did last night:  Michigan won, that much is clear, but did they deserve to win?  They were badly out-gained.  They needed Tech to rough their punter.  They needed a number of close calls, including the Coale play, to go their way.  They needed a kicker to miss an easy field goal.  They needed Drew Dileo to execute the ol' pass-the-ball-off-the-other-team-to-the-long-snapper play.  It was a wild chain of events. 

I don't see the game like I did last night, though.  Michigan did what it probably wouldn't have in the last couple of years - Michigan hung in.  The defense in particular took punch after punch to the mouth but kept the team in the game.  A lot of units would have wilted under that pressure, but not Michigan's 132nd defense.   And that - with a bit of offense and some good special teams - was enough.

Sometimes a team doesn't win convincingly.  Sometimes you're Micky Ward and you get your ass kicked for ten rounds before you knock the other guy out.  Sometimes you hang in just enough for luck to go your way.  Is Michigan obviously better than Tech? No, but you don't get a Sugar Bowl trophy for style points.  You get a Sugar Bowl trophy for out-scoring the other team, and there is a harsh and brilliant simplicity to that.  

We don't need to ask whether Michigan deserved to win.  They did win - and they didn't cheat or (presumably) play ineligible players.  That's enough.  That's sports.  To mix my movie quotes, sometimes you eat the bear, and sometimes the bear eats you, and deserve's got nothing to do with it. 

Go Blue! 

  william munny front



January 4th, 2012 at 1:52 PM ^

VTech plays a high risk/reward defense.  And with the exception of the two Junior Hemingway touchdowns, their gamble paid off.

Michigan played a bend but don't break defense.  And with the exception of many 3rd down conversions and a possible touchdown in overtime, our gamble paid off.

In my opinion, VTech was extrememly luckly that we didn't have more big plays, and they were extremely lucky on their 3rd/4th down conversions (penalty not called on 4th down conversion that led to a touchdown).  We were also extremely luckly that the refs overturned an interception and touchdown that were correct based on rules, but borderline based on intent of the rule (I also thought that on the first interception the ball touched the ground).

In the end, it was definitely not a pretty win or a game to brag about, but this season is definitely worth bragging about after what we have been through.

Yost Ghost

January 4th, 2012 at 2:11 PM ^

There were 3 key factors that had a large impact on UM's ability to play to their potential. Namely the Molk injury, the RVB injury and the Heininger injury. Those foot injuries have a big impact on speed and strength. You can't get a full push off with the foot. I'm not surprised our run blocking was subpar between the tackles with Molk's injury. RVB not only is hurt which hampers his ability to get off the line and get penetration but then he and Martin have to play a lot of minutes without Heininger available to give people a rest. Not a shock they struggled. Of course that doesn't explain the issues with the passing game or the secondary but it doesn explain a significant portion of their issues.


January 4th, 2012 at 12:10 PM ^

To all those who said Michigan/State game would've been different if it had been played at the end of the year, I give you exhibit A the bowl games. State would beat you even worse than they did if the game were played now.


January 4th, 2012 at 11:16 AM ^

guys are lucky and some ain't.

"The ole" thrown the ball of the other team to the long snapper.  That is good stuff.  I am still not sure if that was a designed fake or not.

coastal blue

January 4th, 2012 at 11:19 AM ^

but if any group of seniors deserved to finish their careers with a major bowl victory and a top ten finish it was these guys. 

And in regards to the actual game: We were lucky, they made some huge mistakes and we made just enough plays to pull it out. I don't mind saying we were fortunate because we were, but that's football. I'd rather be on the side that won and didn't "deserve" it than the side that lost and did "deserve" a victory. 


January 4th, 2012 at 11:19 AM ^

LSU still won.   I don't feel great about the lack of style points, but I feel great for the team.  They never gave up, both on offense and defense and took advantage of VT's mistakes.    You have to win in all three phases, and we didn't lose in two - defense and special teams.  Sometimes that's good enough, it was last night.

Go Blue.

Steve Lorenz

January 4th, 2012 at 11:20 AM ^

Just refreshing to see a Michigan team win on defense and kicking. Yeah we had some breaks go our way, but this year alone we did three things we haven't done in a long time: Beat Ohio, dominate a good team and win a big game because of the other two facets of the game. Great way to finish the season IMO


January 4th, 2012 at 11:20 AM ^

Virginia Tech made bad coaching decisions and executed poorly.  Sometimes, if you play another team close, they'll make mistakes and the ball will bounce in your favor.  

Michigan's been on both sides of this situation in the past.  Last night, they were on the winning side.  

Yes, they deserved to win.


January 4th, 2012 at 11:22 AM ^

Team 132 deserved to go out on a high note.  

As for our performance, we did the best we could with Molk's mobility limited (which made us rely on the pass more) and the fact we were facing a NFL grade QB, outside WR, and RB.  Also they have four 5th year seniors on that offensive line.  We held that talent to 20 points.  Yes they had some long drives and converted 3rd and long, but after all that they got to trot out the FG kicker.

If Molk's at 100%, we'd have a lot more options in the run game and I think we take the game by two scores in regulation.  


January 4th, 2012 at 11:25 AM ^

Never been a fan of the 'deserving' to win meme. You can be the better team, out-coach your opponent, be a fan favorite, whatever....but all that matters is final score. How you get there is ultimately irrelevant.


January 4th, 2012 at 11:25 AM ^

 The catch/ noncatch just meant Michigan had to score a TD to keep the game going. I don't think they played a good game , but deserves got nothing to do with it. We scored more points than them when the final whistle blew and thats how you win football games. VT can't really blame the refs there the catch/non catch could have went either way and VT had plenty of opportunites to turn this in to a blow out.


January 4th, 2012 at 11:26 AM ^

liked the run game purely to setup a big passing play for the TDs.  It was purely due to the talent we have that it often ended up that the run became the dominant force. 

I think yesterday's win showed (a less than ideal version of) Borge's style going forward and why it's effective even when the offense isn't firing on all cylinders :  It's efficient.  A handful of effective, big plays to put up points - screw having a slow, trodging drive down the field.  


January 4th, 2012 at 11:58 AM ^


Borges has spent his entire career working with the principles of the deep pass and the power run.  It clearly works.  He put Jason Campbell in the NFL (and Campbell is a decent NFL QB, not great, but there are much worse starters currently).  At SDSU he had NFL hype for his RB and QB before he left (they've regressed without him so we'll see what is in their future).  He also put two WRs from SDSU in the NFL.  

At times he clearly struggles with Denard.  You can see the Gulf Coast Offense Al Borges saying "Look at the defense this is the perfect time to throw it deep and rip their heart out. "  Then the practical Al says "Look Denard is kind of short with some vision issues, has some accuracy issues, and we only have one true outside WR.  Maybe we should....oh fuck Denard is throwing a jump ball anyway.".    

I just remain serene because despite the best center in the country playing injured (and that injury happening in pregame, so no time to prepare), no run game due to that injury, and playing one of the best defenses in the country (and DCs), Al still got us 20 points in regulation.  Next year we Stonum back and some true freshman WRs that are over 6 feet in height coming.  We're clearly in offensive transistion, where Al is working with concepts of the run game he never really used before, while asking Denard also throw some passes that are new concepts to Denard.  

We'll see where we are next year.  If nothing else Gardner and Morris are closer to prototypical Borges QBs, so remain calm and carry on.  Al at least got us an every down back this year.

Overall I liked what I saw from Borges this game, it seemed like:

  1. Whoa run game is bad.
  2. Man not even Denard can run with Molk's mobility limited.
  3. Alright so Molk has no lateral mobility, but we're bigger than these guys.  MANBALL baby!
  4. Hmmm that didn't work, lets bring in Smith to block on all these edge blitzes and feed him the rock every so often to keep them honest.  

While the offense didn't exactly come out covered glory, we did pretty well considering the entire offensive gameplay was fed into a paper shredder when Molk went down in warmups.  Borges adjusted, Foster adjusted right back, but in the end Borges got enough points to win.  Plus of course Foster is one of the best minds in defense, so playing him to a tie in scheme isn't bad.

(I'm just grumpy, because some of the morons at the bowl were calling for Al to be fired.)


January 4th, 2012 at 11:26 AM ^

VT made the mistakes, coughed up the ball, questionable coaching decisions, and missed the field goal--is that a team that sounds like they deserved to win?  We won the game.  That is all that matters.  Plus if we stop one or two of the 3rd or 4th down and longs that they converted, it wouldn't have been as close.


January 4th, 2012 at 11:28 AM ^

At the same time, it took VT's third string kicker making four field goals in regulation for the game to even make it into overtime. They were lucky that kid was as clutch as he was.


January 4th, 2012 at 11:30 AM ^

The team that scores more points usually wins. We scored more points, so we won. To address the question more directly, there were some "lucky" plays, but VaTech also had some lucky plays as well. Probably their worst luck was that their 2 top kickers were out for stupid mistakes before the game.


January 4th, 2012 at 11:28 AM ^

because we made fewer mistakes, executed a shade better.

All the stats mean nothing. They had how many red zone possessions? And we weren't lucky that they roughed Wile: they hit him.

Luck is the nutty fake fg reception moving our fg closer. Luck is not Ryan sniffing out their fake punt - that's a good play.

Overall they played better than we did. We made the big plays though, when it mattered: stops, td's, fg.

Sugar Bowl Champs. End of.


January 4th, 2012 at 11:28 AM ^

Is to score more points than opposition.  We did.  We won.  Bring on the 2012 season and let's see what team 133 looks like and how they do!


Oscar, the River Otter of Just WIn Baby says "Get over it!"


Bill in Birmingham

January 4th, 2012 at 11:31 AM ^

Were we outplayed? Yes. Have we outplayed the other team many times and lost? Yes. Any win in this game for these players, who won eleven freaking times this year when most of us would have been thrilled with nine, is awesome.


January 4th, 2012 at 11:30 AM ^

Here are my thoughts.

Tech sold out to stop the run and get to the quarterback much of the game. They are an aggressive defense and were doing what they do. It worked 99% of the time and accounted for our lackluster offensive stats. But it also left receivers 1 on 1. The first one was a bit up for grabs since there was safety help (although he really wasn't in good position to make a play on the ball), but the other one was Junior/Denard doing what they do when given that match-up.

Our defense on the other hand was the definition of bend but don't break. While they (frustratingly) let VT dink and dunk down the field the whole night, dominating time of possession and yardage, we only let them score one touchdown and forced their 3rd string kicker to make make 3 field goals and put the game on his foot in OT. Ultimately, we held a pretty good QB/RB tandem to 17 points.

VT didn't help their cause by the big roughing the kicker or the fake punt attempt, but these things aren't exactly luck based. Both our turn-overs were very much of the forced variety, so again, hard to say it was luck (i.e. it wasn't a Tommy Rees butterfingers variety). Ok, our fake FG was fluky as hell and the we were fortunate the refs decided to overturn the Coates catch/non-catch (the right call IMO). Still, we executed following that by taking care of the football and Gibbons put it through the uprights. Again, we probably dodged one by not getting the false start called against us, but I can think of several no calls both ways in pivotal momemts that game, it wasn't really abnormal for refs to miss stuff or let stuff go.

Bottom line, we stuck around and were opportunistic when it mattered. Not exactly a beat your chest satisfying win, but I think they deserved to win and the team I'm sure feels that way too.


January 4th, 2012 at 11:44 AM ^

They needed a kicker to miss an easy field goal.

Yes, but only after that guy - a third-stringer, mind you - unexpectedly went 4-4 in regulation.

Also, we led for like 25 of the 30 minutes in the second half.  At no point in the second half or OT did we ever trail.  You can point to yardage, but VT was also playing from behind while we were protecting a lead.  Not that we weren't trying to score, but we didn't have the same urgency to do so after we went up 17-6.

oriental andrew

January 4th, 2012 at 11:32 AM ^

Deserves got nothin' to do with it.  Seriously.  You could say VT deserved to win because of Coale's "shoulda-been-a-catch" in OT, or because of Myer's emergence from 3rd string to near-hero, or because so-and-so is such a good guy, or so-and-so has such a great hardship story, or because of the stats, or whatever.  You could say the same about Michigan and what the 5th year seniors endured (3 HCs, losingest period in Michigan football history, etc), the hardship story of so-and-so, the play of all the true freshman, or whatever.

"Deserve" implies some sort of value judgement which, imo, just doesn't apply.  Did both teams deserve to win?  Sure they did.  Did one team have far better stats?  Absolutely.  But what ultimately matters is what happened on the field.  You might say that Michigan didn't deserve it because they needed a wacky fake FG pass tipped by the defense to the long snapper for a first and goal, 2 overturned catches which were both very very close, a roughing the kicker penalty, and a missed VT FG to ultimately win, but that's all part of the game.  You can't take that out of the equation when making your determination.

Long story short, did they deserve it?  Doesn't matter.  One team had to win and one had to lose.  In this case, Michigan came out on top. 


January 4th, 2012 at 11:32 AM ^

Let's look at the stats.  VT scored one TD and their RB, one of the best in the country was held to 3.4 yards per carry.  That was also the team stat.  It was a classic example of bend but don't break. Four FG's and one TD....we actually played some pretty good D.  

VT had some bad decison making on the part of Beamer, made several mistakes, had TO's.

Did lady luck smile on us?  Yup, particularly with the review on the TD in OT, but that was a make up for Iowa.

The fan base needs to stop feeling guilty about the win and just accept it.




January 4th, 2012 at 11:59 AM ^

VT scored one TD and their RB, one of the best in the country was held to 3.4 yards per carry.

Not only that, but 32 of his 82 yards came on one carry. So his other 23 carried netted just 50 yards. Our run defense was superb. That one long carry and a couple of scrambles were basically it for VT.


January 4th, 2012 at 11:32 AM ^

Total yards are not the only statistic that matters.  We scored more touchdowns than they did.  We made all of our field goal attempts.  Sure, they moved the ball better on a down to down basis, but that doesn't win you a game on that alone. 

Sure, we had plays go our way.  But there were two times VT had 1st and goal where they came away with 3 points total.  VT turned the ball over.  VT gave up a couple big plays. 

Total yardage is all well and good, but often times football games come down to three things:  Big plays, turnovers and special teams.  VT had no big plays, and we had a couple.  VT had two turnovers to our one, and they had two big special teams gaffes - the roughing the kicker and then obviously the missed FG in OT. 

Broken Brilliance

January 4th, 2012 at 11:33 AM ^

No one was feeling sorry for us when we were on the other end of games like this. I'm looking forward to enjoying this win for the next few months, but when football season rolls back around, I'll remember all the haterz saying this team didn't deserve this and I'm sure Hoke will use it to light a fire under Team 133.


January 4th, 2012 at 11:33 AM ^

Beamer runs a fake punt so often it has become predicable. Everyone knew that was coming. I know there are always a number of plays you can point at in a close game - the reviewed catch obviously - but that fake punt was really a key play.


January 4th, 2012 at 11:35 AM ^

I'm sure Frank Beamer's socks know more about football than I do, but that one did leave me scratching my head.  Why not just go for it with your offense?  Michigan is obviously going to be looking for a fake in that situation. 


January 4th, 2012 at 11:33 AM ^

WTF???? Ridiculous question. What are we trying to do? Make the Hokies feel better about their loss?

People are making it sound like the Hokies should have won this game? Our D, especially in the red zone, played lights out. Their offense did not play well. Their pass-D did not play well, considering they gave up two huge TDs. Yes they had a good rush-D, but I find it ridiculous for people to question the accomplishment of team 132 in the bowl game by posing idiotic questions like "Did we deserve to win?" Yes, yes we did. We put up more points and played our butts off. We made mistakes but so did they (int to Clark, fumble, missed field goal, etc.). Their rush-D played lights out and our red zone D played lights out. Enough with the "well, we won but not really sure we deserved to since they dominated us."

Born Blue

January 4th, 2012 at 11:34 AM ^

It's sports fergodsakes!  Deserves got nothing to do with it, period.  I've been an athlete or coach seems like all of my life in a variety of sports on a number of different levels, and if I haven't learned anything else, deserves got nothing to do with it.  

Each season, athletes and coaches of differing abilities get together to prepare and then compete, hopefully to attain their goals.  Little separates the sides, but desire.  In the end, desire, tenacity, dogged determination...some say will, makes the difference.  The amazing difference between Team 131 and Team 132 is that lesson, determination trumps deserving.  Those who deserve wait for others to give it to them, those who are determined find a way to take it or make it happen.  Last night, Team 132 punctuated it's season with determination, and took the game, the win, and the Sugar Bowl Championship, because, well, that's what determined people do.  Kudos Team 132, job well done.

Champions are determined by their response to adversity, deserving people just want the good times to roll, reality is where they meet.

turbo cool

January 4th, 2012 at 11:35 AM ^

Well, VT was much better than us and the refs helped us on more than one occasion. Based on solely the play in the game last night, VT should've won.

However, did Michigan deserve to win? Why not? This team has been through a lot of the last few years, came together this year under a new coaching staff (which did NOT happen 4 years ago), and worked their asses off to get to this point. Nobody expected us to be this competitive this year, let alone finish with 11 wins. So, credit goes to the players and coaching staff. They worked hard this last year and they showed that hard work does in fact pay off. So, under that perspective, yes, we did deserve to win.


January 4th, 2012 at 11:36 AM ^

Opponents' miscues are every bit as much part of the game as your own successes. So is luck. So is the occasional break (or not) from the refs.

So did Michigan deserve to win? Yes, abosolutely, 100% without question.

Why? Because even with all of the above, our players actually made the plays that resulted in 23 points being put on the board in our favor. And Junior Hemingway got a trophy for those very efforts.


January 4th, 2012 at 11:36 AM ^

First you ask:


Michigan won, that much is clear, but did they deserve to win?

Then you say:


We don't need to ask whether Michigan deserved to win.

So... what are we doing here?