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Michigan Vs. Virginia Tech Recap, Sugar Bowl 2012: Good Bad Game Or Bad Good Game?

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The stats that mattered in Michigan's 23-20 overtime win over Virginia Tech in last night's Allstate Sugar Bowl, from fake punts that failed, to fake field goals that failed (and still worked), to enormous losses, to Jayron Hosley's dominance.

-22: Gain on one run by David Wilson. When you double up your opponent in terms of total yardage and still lose, the goal of a piece like this is to figure out how exactly that happened. One way: your running back makes a terrible decision to cut back and create something out of nothing, and first-and-goal from the four becomes second-and-goal from the 26.

A potential touchdown became a field goal. Four points lost.

1: Michigan drive that spanned more than 35 yards. After looking nervous and out of sorts on their first three possessions, the Wolverines put together a lovely 96-yard drive (with help from a roughing-the-passer penalty and two overturned interceptions) following a goal line stand. They scored to take a 7-6 lead. The offense gained 81 yards on 11 plays (7.4 per play) on the drive. The rest of the game: 41 plays, 103 yards (2.5 per play). On their other four scoring drives, they took possession at the Tech 26 (following a fumble), the Tech 35 (following an interception), the Tech 45 (following one of the worst fake punts of all-time) and the Tech 25 (in overtime). Michigan gets kudos for getting points out of every opportunity, but only once was the offense able to create opportunity on its own.

4: Passes broken up by Jayron Hosley. Let's see ... Hosley made no tackles ... broke up four passes ... and Michigan's top two targets (Roy Roundtree and Junior Hemingway) caught just three of 10 passes thrown their way. I would say Hosley won that battle, eh?

4: Tackles for loss by Michigan's Jake Ryan. Michigan's defense played the bend-don't-break routine to perfection. They allowed five yards per play and seven trips inside their 40, but they forced five field goals and a turnover on downs at their four. Part of the reason for the success was that Ryan (must not make Sixteen Candles reference and reveal that it is one of my favorite movies of all-time ... must not make Sixteen Candles reference and reveal that it is one of my favorite movies of all-time ... must not make Sixteen Candles reference and reveal that it is one of my favorite movies of all-time...) was always around to make a big play. Ryan, Jordan Kovacs and Desmond Morgan combined for 22.5 tackles and 5.5 tackles for loss, and Michigan as a whole severely limited Tech's big plays. Just force them to keep inching down the field and eventually force a fourth down.

10.6: Expected points from field goals of 25, 36, 37, 37 and 43 yards. With backup-to-the-backup kicker Justin Myer in action, Virginia Tech made four of five field goals and pulled in 12 points from these five field goal attempts. The bowl season has been fantastic overall, but you have to feel for all the kickers missing huge kicks. Still, a perceived weakness for Tech -- they were forced to use their third-string kicker -- was a strength for the game as a whole. Myer made all four field goals in regulation and was really the primary reason the Hokies made it to overtime at all. Unfortunately, his one miss was devastating, especially on the heels of a near-touchdown, overturned by replay, by a diving Danny Coale.

11: Receiving yards for Michigan offensive lineman Jareth Gianda. Virginia Tech attempted a fake punt, failed, then failed worse on a last-ditch quick kick attempt.


Meanwhile, Michigan attempted a fake field goal, failed, and completed it anyway.

How does a team win despite getting doubled up in yardage? In part by getting breaks like that. For the game, Michigan was 1-for-1 on fourth-down conversions, and Virginia Tech was 1-for-3. That's one extra possession for the Wolverines, two lost possessions for the Hokies.

95: Combined pre-sack rushing yards gained by Denard Robinson and Logan Thomas. They each had their moments, especially Thomas (19-for-28, 214 yards, one interception, two sacks for four yards; 14 carries, 57 yards), but this was not the dynamic quarterback battle we were hoping to see.