Michigan vs. Virginia Tech
Matchup: Michigan 10-2; Virginia Tech 11-2
When: Tuesday 8:30 p.m. EST
Where: Mercedes-Benz Superdome
NEW ORLEANS — Jake Ryan was a nobody just nine months ago. The redshirt freshman linebacker burst onto the scene in the Michigan football team’s spring game as much for his boyish appearance and long blonde hair than his sack and interception.
NEW ORLEANS — Exactly 366 days ago, Michigan Athletic Director Dave Brandon went on a mission. His football team needed a new coach. At the time, Brandon didn’t know who was the right man for the job, but he did know what he was looking for.
NEW ORLEANS — Jareth Glanda was to suffer the same fate as nearly every other long snapper in college football. He would be lost to history. Long snappers don’t have stats or hero moments. Unless they mess up, they are rarely mentioned by announcers or shown on television. The only proof Glanda would have of him being on Michigan’s now famed Team 132 would be the redshirt sophomore’s name on the roster and his face in the team photo.
NEW ORLEANS — Taylor Lewan never lost faith. With the Virginia Tech football team facing a third-and-2 from the Michigan 8-yard line, Lewan stood up from the bench and put his helmet on. The redshirt sophomore offensive tackle wouldn’t watch the next play.
NEW ORLEANS — His teammates raced around the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, high-fiving fans, while he meandered behind. His roommate, fifth-year senior wide receiver Junior Hemingway, was the game’s most outstanding player and had developed into the go-to deep threat he was supposed to be.
NEW ORLEANS — Taylor Lewan never lost faith. With the Virginia Tech football team facing a third-and-two from the Michigan eight-yard line, Lewan stood up from the bench and put his helmet on. The redshirt sophomore offensive tackle wouldn’t watch the next play.
NEW ORLEANS — David Molk only had one leg, but that couldn’t stop him. Michigan’s fifth-year senior captain and All-American center was held out of the starting lineup after sustaining a foot injury during pregame warmups before the Allstate Sugar Bowl.
NEW ORLEANS — Ryan Van Bergen limped off the field, with trainers under each arm helping him make it to the sidelines. He and the Michigan defense had just made a critical third down stop in overtime, forcing Virginia Tech to settle for a 37-yard field goal, which Hokie kicker Justin Myer would miss wide right just moments later.
NEW ORLEANS — Stop trying to make sense of it. What happened inside the Superdome can’t be explained. The scenes seem disjointed: third-and-20 conversion, touchdown, interception, touchdown, touchdown catch review. The first 55 minutes flashed by in a blur of yellow and orange pompoms. The last five and overtime were an eternity.
NEW ORLEANS — Right was left. Up was down. And Junior Hemingway was celebrating in the endzone. Call it magic. Call it luck. But Denard Robinson routinely made plays like this all season.
NEW ORLEANS — Brendan Gibbons stooped, placed the ball on the kicking tee. He stepped back and took a deep breath.
NEW ORLEANS — The Michigan football team is back in the national spotlight, playing in its first BCS game since Lloyd Carr was head coach in 2005. Join the Daily football beat live from Mercedes-Benz Superdome as the Wolverines take on No. 11 Virginia Tech in the Allstate Sugar Bowl in New Orleans.
NEW ORLEANS — It’s finally Sugar Bowl day. The two teams have been scheming and watching film for a month. There shouldn’t be much surprises on the Superdome turf, just two teams that are set to answer questions of their deservedness.
NEW ORLEANS — It’s the same question asked after every one of the Michigan football team’s 10 victories this season. The same question that Michigan coach Brady Hoke wants answered once and for all.
NEW ORLEANS — The whole nation seemed to pile on when the Michigan defense plodded through its embarrassing three years under Rich Rodriguez. But one comment in particular stood out to Mike Martin and Ryan Van Bergen.
NEW ORLEANS — You’ve probably heard about the shenanigans that happen on Bourbon Street in the French Quarter, especially when beads are involved. People go crazy. It gets weird.
NEW ORLEANS — As smoothly as he runs, junior quarterback Denard Robinson casually slipped Junior Hemingway’s nickname into a conversation with a reporter this week, as if no one would notice.
NEW ORLEANS — Fifth-year senior safety Troy Woolfolk joked earlier this season that he was thankful that he broke his ankle last season, allowing him to redshirt and come back for the Michigan football team’s Sugar Bowl run. Last year, he had to watch the game at home. This season, he’ll start watching from the bench.
NEW ORLEANS — Craig Roh isn’t necessarily the wrecking ball on the Michigan football team’s defensive line, but he knows how to wield a sledgehammer. The Wolverines’ trip to New Orleans for the Allstate Sugar Bowl isn’t the first time Roh has been in the Big Easy. And his first visit was far from easy.
NEW ORLEANS — Frank Beamer has been around the block a time or two. Virginia Tech’s longtime head coach took over in Blacksburg, Va. in 1987, before any of his current players were even born.
NEW ORLEANS — Bourbon Street is only so big. During the past week, a couple of players have mentioned they’ve run into their Sugar Bowl opponents when out on the town. There were no incidents or trash talking, just a mutual respect for the ability of 18-to-23 year olds to experience New Orleans without incident.
NEW ORLEANS — The Michigan football team has had plenty of new experiences in the Big Easy. Great food, New Orleans nightlife, a boat ride on the Mississippi River … the list goes on.
NEW ORLEANS — Exams ended over a week ago, but the final test for the Michigan football team is still two days away. For 13 members of the team, the Allstate Sugar Bowl in New Orleans brings a feeling of finality. It’s the last of the lasts. These players have finished classes and received their diplomas — they are Michigan graduates.
NEW ORLEANS — Call David Molk a one-tweet wonder. Michigan’s fifth-year senior center caved in and created a Twitter account two months ago and quickly climbed over 2,000 followers.
NEW ORLEANS — With the Michigan football team just two days away from an appearance in the Allstate Sugar Bowl at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, the Daily football beat will take an hour to chat and debate with you the fan. Join them here at 5 PM EST today, Jan. 1, for the latest on the Wolverines, live from New Orleans.
NEW ORLEANS — It was November 26, the date Jim Tressel emphasized when he was dismissed at Ohio State five months earlier. “Don’t forget: on November 26th we’re going to kick (Michigan’s) ass!” the embattled Tressel told a roaring crowd outside his home in mid-June. He was wrong.
NEW ORLEANS — The Michigan football team gathered in front of the stage as Van B and Big Willy Style made their way through the crowd. The atmosphere buzzed, waiting for the first act on the mic at the team’s bowling night. Will Campbell had signed himself and Ryan Van Bergen up without telling Van Bergen. But Van Bergen confidently started rapping lyrics, “straight from the dome,” as he later described it.
NEW ORLEANS — Blake Countess’s early success with the Michigan football team can be attributed to six Ps: Proper preparation prevents piss-poor performance. Ever since Countess was little, participating in gymnastics and karate as much as football, his dad has repeated the mantra. By the time he got to Ann Arbor this season, it was the piece of advice that has stuck with the freshman cornerback more than anything else.
NEW ORLEANS — If any average-sized man saw Logan Thomas running at him, the natural reaction would probably be to run the other way out of sheer terror. Thomas is a big man. At 6-foot-6, 254 pounds, the redshirt sophomore could do some serious damage.
NEW ORLEANS — It’s the kind of thing that makes you double take, maybe even triple take. Michigan defensive tackle Ryan Van Bergen looked once, let out a “whoa,” and looked again. “That’s some beard flow,” Van Bergen said.
NEW ORLEANS — Every Monday afternoon, the Michigan football team had its weekly press conference this season. And every Monday afternoon, there was Ryan Van Bergen, ready to answer for his teammates. The unofficial team spokesman looked groggy sometimes, perhaps out of sorts others. Not even a captain, Van Bergen took pride in being the voice of the team.
NEW ORLEANS — Fitzgerald Toussaint is more than just a running back for the Michigan football team. In the streets of New Orleans last night, the redshirt sophomore showed off one of his many talents.
NEW ORLEANS — Denard Robinson would have been a natural fit at Virginia Tech. Apparently, Robinson is a combination of Hokie quarterbacks of the past — but, in some cases, faster. Virginia Tech players and coaches repeatedly used two names to describe Robinson’s talent: Tyrod Taylor, the Hokies’ quarterback last season, and Michael Vick, who played at Virginia Tech from 1998-2000.
NEW ORLEANS — Bud Foster discovered long ago that the grass isn’t greener outside of Blacksburg, Va. Foster, the longtime Virginia Tech defensive coordinator, has played second fiddle to Hokies coach Frank Beamer for 33 years.
NEW ORLEANS — While Virginia Tech deals with the loss of two kickers, the No. 13 Michigan football team is dealing with an entirely different situation involving a big boot of their own.
NEW ORLEANS — If New Orleans had a middle name, “Distraction” should be it. Look one way, there are restaurants and bars everywhere. Look another, you’ll see mimes, artists and musicians entertaining hundreds of people at a time. Look down Bourbon Street, and well, you might want to shield the eyes of anyone under 18.
NEW ORLEANS — Justin Myer’s eyes were lost in the headlights, his face emotionless. And this was while answering questions in an empty stadium. He recalled the last high-pressure kick he made. It was a 47-yarder in his senior year of high school, his career-long field goal. But even that came early in the game. Myers’s next will be much tougher.