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 11:40 AM ^

Please note that I said that I had that doubt last night but don't today.  I was also using the rethorical device of setting up a question (that seems to be on at least some people's minds) and then explaining that it's not the right question to be asking.

Smash Lampjaw

January 4th, 2012 at 11:37 AM ^

If we are blessed with a UFR of this game, I will be interested to know if Gibbons saved the day with a timely take-down of the guy about to stop Dileo on the "fire" kick, as Dinardo called it. Is Gibbons the long-lost twin of VanBergen?

Born Blue

January 4th, 2012 at 11:46 AM ^

Everything that happened in the game to both teams, happened within the parameters of the game.  Michigan did not cheat.  Virginia Tech did not cheat.  Neither team was victimized.  It was a hard hitting, hard fought, hard won, and hard lost game for each of the teams.  This whole notion of "deserving"  and being "dominated" by another squad is just, well, nebulous.

Did Sparty deserve to win?  Did Wisky deserve to lose? Should Ohio have won since Florida only scored primarily thru special teams? This is how the game is played, these occurences are all apart of what can transpire in the course of a game.  All that remains is a given teams' response to the stimulus at hand...our team responded in a manner which made them victorious.


January 4th, 2012 at 11:53 AM ^

We were bending, but we never broke. It's not any less of a win because we didn't dominate some statistical categories. We've been through the worst of the worst, and when you've been through that, you feel like you can stay in any game."


January 4th, 2012 at 12:09 PM ^

Were I a Tech fan, I'd definitely feel like one got away. Their 3rd down production was sick and Wilson was continuously pounding out five or eight yards where there were none. Their DL overwhlemed our offense much of the night.

Our defense, though, made it a winnable game in the first half by keeping VT out of the endzone. If we're down 21-10 at the half, we're toast on a night like that, when the offense is so clearly totally bottled up. Giving up six points on three deep drives made all the other things that happened meaningful, instead of just things that happened as we got stomped.

But even on a night like that, I think 20 points given up gives this offense a chance to win. It's also remarkable that it was defense and special teams that kept this a winnable game and then got us over the top.


January 4th, 2012 at 12:18 PM ^

As fans, it's easy to get greedy.  We want to win but we also want to look great while we win.  I was that fan for a while last night.  And while I think this is no victory to brag about, I've decided I'm not going to feel "guilty," in victory either. 

Do you know how many times we were in VaTech's position?  Think of those early games against Woody Hayes in the 10 year war.  Think of us getting 150 more yards of offense against OSU's national championship team in 2002 only to lose.  Think of games against Lou Holtz's ND teams where we were dominated only to lose thanks to kickoff and punt returns.  Think of holding Washington's offense to 2 field goals all day but losing thanks to a blocked field goal returned 80 yards for a TD and then a tipped pass picked off and returned 30 yards for a touchdown a minute later.

Sometimes the offense that dominates can still lose.  And that was us so many times.  Nothing has ever, EVER come easy for us in bowl games.  And I doubt this ever happens to us in a bowl again.  So I'll take the win, as ugly as it was, and be happy.


Perkis-Size Me

January 4th, 2012 at 12:22 PM ^

michigan played poorly, sure, but a better team would have found a way to put us away. virginia tech failed to capitalize despite the countless ways we nearly gave the game away and they found the endzone once.

neither team deserved to win, really. but im convinced that nothing less than divine inspiration by the football gods brought our win last night.


January 4th, 2012 at 12:22 PM ^

VT was lucky in a lot of ways themselves:

1. The best center in the country is injured in pre-game warmups

2. Their third string kicker is somehow clutch (at least until overtime)

3. Their apparent gameplan of only playing offense on third downs of 10 plus yards works

4. Our fluky lineman catching a pass play only results in a closer field goal

I think it was just one of those strange games.  Both teams really wanted to win.  I'm glad ours did.


January 4th, 2012 at 12:29 PM ^

I always think that the team that scored more points deserves to win.  VT had its chances, and UM had theirs, and one team was able to capitalize a bit more than the other.  Yes, VT moved the ball well between the 20's, but when they got close to the endzone their failed to score TDs, a problem for them all year.  That's on a defense that hung tough and made the stops when they needed them. 

Yes, it was not a great game, but I will counter that you have two top-20 defenses statistically out there, and so there are going to be drives that don't end in scores and offenses that struggle at times.  And while UM struggled more than VT, it also showed the ability to move the ball despite having a key injury to its AA center.  If these were two SEC teams, people would be talking about how great the two defenses played and how UM just made plays to win.

Overall, I do expect the team to regress next year, probably topping out at 8-9 wins.  It is a young team with some holes on both sides of the line, and to expect them to continue on with those loses is unlikely.  But the trajectory is right.

Louie C

January 4th, 2012 at 12:34 PM ^

These kids bust their asses year in and year out, sacrifice, and endured injuries. Some of them went through a torrential 3 three year shit storm, yet stayed the course and stayed hungry. They encouraged each other, and bought in to a new regime wholeheartedly. Last night, they did not give up, and made plays when they had to. Hell yeah they deserved this. Only a lame assed Spartan thinks they don't deserve this, but they can take their bloomin' onion and shove it up their ass.


January 4th, 2012 at 12:35 PM ^

Did VT "deserve" to convert 5 or 6 3rd/4th and longs? Sure, it was partially self-inflicted, but even an incompetent defense should be able to stop an offense like VT's on 3rd and long. They got lucky numerous times. Converting a 4th adn 11 on their TD drive was also lucky...especially given the missed hands-to-the-face penalty.

Did Michigan "deserve" to be winning by 4 after being dominated? Maybe. Maybe not. When the other team makes three trips to your redzone but only has 6 points to show for it, then maybe you do. Michigan made one big play in the first half, and got more points in that one play than VT did at all for the seemingly infinite number of times they had the ball. I mean, sure Michigan was lucky Wilson ran backwards for 30 yards, but then again, maybe VT doesn't deserve to be winning if your offense still makes boneheaded plays like that in your 14th game of the year.

Did VT "deserve" such competent FG kicking? 

Did Michigan "deserve" to get its best oline All-America Rimington award winning center injured right before the game started?

Football doesn't care about "deserve". Most sports don't. It only cares about what happens on the field. And on the field, Michigan scored more points than VT. Was there luck involved? Hell yes. You'd be hard-pressed to find an evenly-matched game where luck isn't a significant factor. Just ask LSU. They beat bama because Bama's kicker couldn't hit the broad side of a barn. Did LSU really "deserve" that win? Sure, why not! Their kicker was competent. 



January 4th, 2012 at 12:40 PM ^

Scoreboard.  Whoever has more points deserves to win.  Tech can blame officials or their FG kicker or whatever they like.  You can't turn the ball over in your own half of the field and you can't take all those penalties.  Sometimes things go your way and I sure love when they do.  10 years from now the books will read Michigan won the Sugar Bowl.  No asterisks apply.  Go Blue!!!!


January 4th, 2012 at 1:04 PM ^

but I cannot think of a group of guys more deserving to win, than Team 132.

It was ugly. Virginia Tech played very tough defense and ball control offense. Our guys hung in there, and I am very glad they won.

No laurels to rest on though. Team 133 has their work cut out for them.

[Edit:]  And that karma from the non-touchdown call at Iowa, and the reversal in the 4th Q against Ohio State - well it paid forward dividends last night.


January 4th, 2012 at 12:52 PM ^

I am happy UM won the game.  However, Monday morning QB'ing I was extremely disapointed in how the game played out.  Any small string of games can come down to lucky breaks and fate just working for you.  However, long term there will be regression to the mean.  Going into this game I thought UM was going to really take it to the Hokies.  They had not really had any impessive victories and had a pedestrian offense.  Their QB seemed steady and their RB ran hard.  The Oline did not impress.  Their defense appeared pretty good and aggresive.  Plus this was a ACC team and the conference has been down recently. I expected our offense to generate big plays as their aggresive defense got RPS'ed.  I expected us to play the run and our secondary could stay with their possesion receivers.  I was expecting a ten point victory.

Part of the bowl game to me is measuring yourself.  If this game is played nine more times, UM probably losses eight of them.  A victory is nice, but when we measured up against a pretty good team we were massively deficient.  Our offense could not sustain any drives and our scoring was due to high risk plays that are just crap shoots.  It was nice to see our defense bend.  However, they could not generate any pressure on the QB and their possesion receivers seemed to get open at will. 

Now we can enjoy the win.  But we have to know that if this is our best against this kind of competition were going to get obliterated.   I am really fretting that we lost our best 3 linemen to graduation.  What is going to happen when we play Alabama next year?  If a limited ACC team can dominate us I don't even want to imagine the crater our football team will be left in after a premier SEC team has their way with us.


Class of 1817

January 4th, 2012 at 12:59 PM ^

As a lifelong Meeeeeeeeeechigan fan, I've seen us outgain, shut down, and dominate several opponents over the years and still lose the game.

And after those games, I still gotta realize that it comes down to the scoreboard and not the stat sheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet.



January 4th, 2012 at 1:06 PM ^

VT put up a lot of yards but they only sniffed the endzone once or twice. They can spend all day passing between their endzone and our 30 but if you can't get past there then you were never really doing all that well in the first place. You just have pretty stats

UM Indy

January 4th, 2012 at 1:06 PM ^

mistakes (stuffed 4th down, fumble on KO return, roughing the punter) were huge and paved the way for an unlikely win.  That's it in a nutshell.


January 4th, 2012 at 1:40 PM ^

I have been hearing UM fans say this same sort of thing about our bowl opponents forever, regardless of what conference they're in. I've been hearing since 1970 that "the PAC 10 is a soft conference with soft teams that don't play a physical brand of ball and that they can't match up with our size and strength" every time we play in the Rose Bowl. How's that worked out for us?

People were fooling themselves if they thought the ACC doesn't have plenty of talented players; what's hampering it as a conference is unsettled coaching situations at places like FSU, Maryland, NC, Miami, and BC.

Frank Beamer has been an extremely successful coach for most of his 25 years at VaTech, and he's coached 13 seasons with ten wins or more, including eight in a row through 2011. You don't do that with mirrors, regardless of what conference you're in.

We're rarely as good as many UM fans think we are, and our opponents are frequently much better than the fans think they are. Why in hell do you think our bowl record since January 1970 is 16 wins and 21 losses?


January 4th, 2012 at 2:16 PM ^

that VaTech fans can recall more than a few Hokie games in the Beamer era in which they used stout red-zone defense, a few big plays on offense, and critical ST plays to manufacture victories.

I get the distinct impression that there are a number of commenters here who would be happier if we'd played very well but lost.

I've seen that script play out for Michigan in more bowl losses than I care to remember. Fuck that.

Perkis-Size Me

January 4th, 2012 at 3:36 PM ^

i'd rather win ugly than lose pretty in the sugar bowl any day. this game showed the team what they've got to work on for next year, and they have an entire offseason to get it right.

counting down the days to 'bama.


January 4th, 2012 at 4:35 PM ^

I think the Beamer blew that game for his team. That fake punt call was the stupidest call of the year. It was the only stupid call he could make on that play.