Michigan 27 - Northwestern 19 (3OT): An Offensive Cameo

Tasos Katopodis

Michigan wins in three overtimes after another lackluster offensive start, but it gets enough offense near the end to sneak out of Evanston with a close win.

Michigan finally found a hint of its offense after weeks of searching, but it wouldn't have happened if not for a last second Brendan Gibbons field goal to tie the game at the end of regulation.

Before that Michigan barely did enough to keep the game close. The offense moved in fits and starts.  Fitzgerald Toussaint didn't play, but in his place Michigan got solid production out of its freshmen backs.  Derrick Green had 19 carries for 79 yards and DeVeon Smith added 9 for 39, keeping both backs over four yards/carry.  Devin Gardner managed to run enough to balance positive against sacks.  Once again he didn't have much time to throw, but he still managed to pass for over 200 yards.  Those yards were often limited as Michigan put together just 4.3 yards/attempt in the passing game and sufferend multiple drops on a rainy evening north of Chicago.

The disappointment has to be terrible for Northwestern, which squandered multiple interception opportunities and looked to be in control of the game until the last second Gibbons field goal.  Michigan's final drive included two fourth down conversions, which was also the number of third down conversions Michigan managed all game.  The Northwestern offense brought pressure through  most of the early going and kept Michigan from converting a third down opportunity in regulation.

Major credit needs to go to Michigan's defense, which kept Northwestern out of the end zone during regulation and only gave up one touchdown in overtime.  The defense also generated some very nice pressure and made  few big plays.

However, this game wouldn't have been won if it weren't for the offense finally waking up.  In its final four possessions, Michigan's offense scored two field goals to extend the game and two touchdowns.  Michigan even added the two-point conversion.

It wasn't the kind of win that answers any questions.  It was an ugly, drag out football game.  Unlike the last couple games, Michigan came out on top.   But as far as catharsis goes, it is a-okay by me.

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