Michigan was in desperate need of some good fortune.

Sophomore Garrett Rivas had just kicked a field goal to cut
Michigan State’s lead to 27-13 on Saturday, but time was
quickly dwindling on the Wolverines.

And then backup fullback Brian Thompson made the biggest play of
his football career.

It was the redshirt sophomore who jumped on Rivas’s onside
kick with 6:27 left in the fourth quarter — a play that
instantly made Michigan’s comeback dreams possible.

“It was an unbelievable feeling,” Thompson said.
“Garrett made a great kick and I just happened to be
there.”

On the play, Michigan lined up with two kickers on the field
— Rivas and senior Troy Nienberg. Rivas came from the right
side and nailed a low line drive. The ball didn’t travel the
required 10 yards, but it banged off a Michigan State defender and
bounced back into Thompson’s arms.

“We had worked on (the two-kicker formation)
before,” Rivas said. “With onside kicks, it gets a
little tricky. You just hope to get a good bounce and hope that it
hits off someone’s pads or something like that.

“It just worked out like we wanted to.”

Following the recovery, Michigan needed just two plays and 15
seconds to pull within seven points on a Michigan State on a Chad
Henne-to-Braylon Edwards touchdown pass. The Wolverines would tie
the score at 27 three minutes later.

But aside from giving Michigan a chance to rally from behind,
the onside kick also served to reignite the thinning Michigan
Stadium crowd. Almost immediately, the Wolverine faithful were
brought back to life — though Thompson would have to wait
until he got off the field following the onside kick to realize
that.

“I couldn’t hear anything, I was in my own little
zone,” said Thompson of the crowd’s reaction when he
fell on the ball. “Honest to God, you’re just kind of
in a whole little nirvana.”

There may have been more highlight-worthy plays in
Michigan’s comeback victory. But for Thompson — a
Saginaw native whose brother Shawn was a tight end at Michigan from
1998-2001 — his role in the win couldn’t have been
bigger

“A lot of people rank their favorite games as the overtime
against Penn State (in 2002) or the field goal against Washington
(in 2001) or Minnesota last year,” Thompson said. “But,
being from Michigan, this was the best thing that I could have ever
been a part of. I will never forget it.”

You da Heis-man: After eclipsing the 200-yard mark on the ground
for the third straight game, freshman running back Mike
Hart’s name was quietly bandied about in the Heisman Trophy
race.

But Michigan coach Lloyd Carr believes Hart’s not the
Wolverine that should be following Chris Perry’s footsteps to
the Heisman Trophy presentation in New York.

“I think the Heisman Trophy candidate on this football
team is Braylon Edwards,” Carr said. “And I think
he’s a legitimate candidate. ”

Carr, though, has no plans to begin outwardly promoting Edwards
by Edwards by bombarding Heisman voters with highlight tapes.

“I think the truth is, there is never going to be a great
football player at the University of Michigan that people
wouldn’t know who he is,” Carr said.

Edwards was magnificent in the final moments of the fourth
quarter and overtime on Saturday, hauling in three touchdown
catches during that time span. With 11 catches for 189 yards
against the Spartans, Edwards became the all-time leading receiver
at Michigan with 3,206 yards, passing Anthony Carter’s career
total of 3,076.

Not to mention the fact that Edwards is ranked in the top 10 for
just about every NCAA receiving category this season.

Still, the Heisman talk has been slow to surround Edwards
— something that he claims isn’t a problem.

“No, it doesn’t bother me,” Edwards said
yesterday during the Big Ten teleconference. “It might seem
like it would, but we just know we fit into a system. When you come
to college, it is just ‘team, team, team,’ and that is
all it is about.”

Yesterday, Edwards was named one of 12 semifinalists for the
Maxwell Award, annually presented to the collegiate player of the
year.

Notes: Henne threw four touchdown passes on Saturday, just the
15th time in Michigan history a quarterback has done that, and the
first time a true freshman has accomplished the feat … Game time
for Michigan’s home finale against Northwestern on Nov. 13
has been set for noon and the contest will be broadcast on ABC …
As it stands right now, just four Big Ten teams — Michigan,
Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota — have six total wins and are
bowl eligible. The Big Ten has ties with seven different bowl
games.

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