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Inside the personal significance of Jake Moody’s game-winning field goal

The season saver against Illinois also was a major milestone in Moody’s career.

Illinois v Michigan Photo by Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images

In the 11 years Jake Moody has been kicking field goals — going back to middle school — none, none, have ever been a game-winner with mere seconds left on the clock. Faced with that kind of history, any normal kicker would be feeling a mix of emotions; pressure, anxiety, and maybe even a touch of doubt.

Moody is no normal kicker.

“I didn’t necessarily push it out of my mind completely, I still got to be aware of when I need to go on the field,” Moody joked. ”I just treated it as any other kick. Didn’t think ‘oh my god, I need to make this, I can’t miss it.’

“I go out there, I pick my spot, I trust the snap and the hold is gonna be where it’s supposed to be, and everything went to plan.”

While Moody may have approached the situation and the aftermath with his usual cool-headed nature, talking to his teammates and Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh put into focus just how significant of a moment this truly was.

They call him Money Moody for a reason, and that trust was paid in kind in the moment they needed it most.

“I don’t think there was a single player on that sideline that didn’t have confidence in our kicker,” defensive end Kris Jenkins said. “Moody is without a doubt one of the best kickers I’ve ever seen, period. He’s that type of player, he’s able to make the big time plays in big time moments. Just seeing him go out there, we were ready for it. We were ready to support him and enjoy the moment with him.”

“I don’t think any of us quite comprehend what that moment is like that he experienced today,” Harbaugh said. “When he came in the locker room, every guy was cheering his name. It was a tremendous celebration.”

Harbaugh went so far to elevate Moody as not just one of this team’s most valuable players, but into the pantheon of Wolverine greats.

“I’ve been watching Michigan football since I was a kid, pretty decent historian of Michigan football, and I am nominating him for legendary status.” Harbaugh said, prompting his father and former Michigan coach Jack Harbaugh to voice his agreement.

Moody himself would likely never voice such a strong praise — the fifth-year senior is too humble to even lean in that direction. But underneath his dry wit, it’s plain to see just how much this moment, coming in the curtain call of his Michigan career, meant to him.

“For it to be on my last game at the big house, it was pretty magical,” Moody said. “I’m just glad we could send out the seniors on a good note.”