On Saturday we bore witness to one of the wildest games of this college football season, as Michigan finally defeated Illinois in a triple-overtime slugfest dominated by huge offensive plays. The Wolverines prevailed despite the absence of quarterback Denard Robinson for most of the second half and all of overtime.
Tied at 45 at the end of regulation, the Wolverines and Illini traded touchdowns in the first overtime, then again in the second overtime, thanks to a juggling circus catch by Michigan receiver Junior Hemingway. It was Hemingway's second spectacular catch of the game, as earlier in the game he had wheeled around to juke out three Illinois defenders to sprint in for a touchdown.
The rules state that in the third overtime, a team that scores a touchdown is required to attempt a 2-point conversion. After scoring a touchdown, the Wolverines did just that, as Tate Forcier, in relief of the still-sidelined Robinson, found Hemingway for yet another big play. Michigan led, 67-59.
In a must-score situation, Illini quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase drove his team into the end zone. On the required 2-point try, though, Scheelhaase was overwhelmed by Michigan's blitz, and the Wolverines sealed the 67-65 win once the ball fell listlessly to the turf.
One lingering question after the breakneck pace of Saturday's game: why was Denard Robinson benched? He remained on the sideline after being removed midway through the third quarter, and even after Forcier struggled, Robinson did not re-enter the game. Some tweeted that medical staff were looking at Robinson's hand, but the ESPN broadcast crew could not determine why he was still sidelined.
What we do know is this: the offenses ran absolutely wild in this game. The teams combined for 1,237 yards of offense on Saturday -- the equivalent of 0.7 miles. There were only two punts all game -- one 21-yarder, and another that netted 14 yards.
The fireworks are now over, and Michigan and Illinois both hold 5-3 records for the season.