Wild Weekends: Better Late Than Never

Through turmoil there will be football.

 

That might as well have been the mantra of this past off-season. No off-season in recent memory has been filled with the kind of bad press and turmoil that filled the football landscape from January through August. But then, the game began to be played again and all those bad memories were washed away so quickly that even some fans must have been surprised at the speed with which they were able to ditch those bad vibes, images, and headlines. Of course what helped speed up this exorcising of bad memories and visions within the minds of football fans everywhere is that there has been no more exciting and compelling first six weeks to a football season in recent memory. And with the season over a month in, I figured it was time to get my ass off the couch and back into the computer chair.

 

These first six weeks of the football season have also been six weeks of sports euphoria in my home state of Wisconsin. The Brewers are currently playing for a spot in the World Series after their first playoff series win in 29 years and the Packers are defending their world championship and doing it in effective fashion with win after win. But easily the most impressive bit of this euphoria is a college football team located in Madison.

 

Russell Wilson’s arrival in Madison over the summer immediately vaulted the Wisconsin Badgers from just a Big-10 championship contender into a national championship contender. It did this because Wisconsin has never had an athletic quarterback the caliber of Wilson. He basically adds a third man to the incredible running attack lead by Montee Ball and supported by James White while also having passing ability and accuracy that have already had some Badger fans (I expect) saying, “Who is Tolzien?” While beating the snot out of four cream puffs was a nice way to show off the flashy aspects of this not-so-new, but very quick Badger offense, but it was the Nebraska game that opened a lot of people’s eyes to what this team was capable of.

 

First off, the Badger defense over the last two seasons has been overshadowed by the team’s offense, but with the hype surrounding Nebraska’s introduction into the Big-10 was on the Badger offense and the QB matchup between Wilson and Nebraska’s Taylor Martinez, the Badger defense decided to put on a show of their own. After letting up two touchdowns in the first third of the game, the Badger defense shut down Nebraska to the point where Wilson could do as he pleased (and did) without worry. In the final forty minutes of their October 1 win, the Badgers outscored Nebraska 41-3 with Ball doing the majority of the scoring and Wilson leading the way each time. For the Cornhuskers, it may be a taste of what is to come for them in this new conference, but being able to come back from 21 down against Ohio St. this past weekend is a definite sign of hope that this team won’t be smashed their first year in this new world. As for the Badgers, four of their final six (minus a potential conference title game) being on the road is anything but easy, especially with back-to-back road games coming up against Michigan St. (the Badgers’ only loss last year) and Ohio St., but there is no more complete and better looking team in the Big-10 as of now, and to many Badger faithful a conference title shouldn’t be a possibility, but a runaway.

 

Housing the NFL’s final two unbeaten teams, the NFC North can claim the spot as the best division in pro football. Yes the AFC East is just as viable a candidate for that position, but as of now it’s the NFC North hands down. But it is somewhat eerie that six weeks into the season and both of these divisions seem almost like mirror images of one another. Both divisions have one of the top quarterbacks in pro football playing within (Brady & Rodgers), they both have amazing turnaround stories in motion (Bills & Lions), both house teams that play in major cities (Jets & Bears), and both have brand-new doormats (Dolphins & Vikings). Amazing isn’t it?

 

While the Packers & Patriots sit high above all others in their respective divisions, it has been the Lions & Bills that have stolen many headlines from those top teams with their own top-level play.

 

This Detroit Lions team, through five games, has already played better than any Lions team post-Barry Sanders. Calvin Johnson has vaulted all the way to the top of the NFL’s best receivers list with his incredible play though these first five games with two touchdown catches in every game of the season so far except this past Monday’s win against Chicago. But that win may best provide a visual aid to this transformation of the Lions from perennial loser into possible big winner as it was the first Monday Night home game for Detroit in years. And even with the hometown Tigers—a more consistent winner than the Lions by far—playing in a series for the American League pennant, the city’s attention seemed to be focused on Ford Field and this game the same way New Orleans celebrated a Monday Night return to the Superdome years ago.

 

For the Bills’ incredible start, it’s all about the game against the Patriots. The Lions may have the comeback against Romo and the Cowboys a few weeks ago, but the Bills’ wrecking of Tom Brady in late-September is the moment for this Bills season. If the season goes downhill from here they will always have that game, if the season only gets better this game could be looked at as the catalyst. Going into the Patriots game, the Bills had a convincing win against an unconvincing Chiefs team and then a squeaker against the Raiders; needless to stay, it wasn’t the most impressive start going into a game against Brady & The Pats. But four interceptions and a three-point comeback win later, and the Bills were for real. While two of those interceptions were on wild deflections, the fact still remains that they picked Brady off as many times in this game as he had been picked all of last season. But more important, they converted those turnovers and that is what beat the Patriots that day. Those four turnovers were converted into 24 points for Buffalo, with the final INT being returned 27 yards by Drayton Florence. Without those turnovers, it’s almost a given that the Patriots’ early 21-0 lead would’ve stuck. Instead, the Bills had not only motivation to win, but validation that they could win. Their unbeaten season would die the next week with a last-second field-goal from Cincinnati, but they would rebound with a 31-24 win over the Eagles that wasn’t even that close.

 

The Dream Team’s dream season has turned into a brutal nightmare so quickly that most people have already been able to forget how much they were singing the Eagles’ praises at the beginning of the season. Four straight losses and bad play all around have erased all of those thoughts and the memories of the hoopla surrounding the formation of this team during those hectic days following the end of the lockout. Is it all on Vick? Of course not. Where’s that stacked defense that this Eagles’ team was supposed to have, and with a new and improved secondary at that? Nowhere to be found. Vince Young hasn’t played a second of regular season football yet this year due to injury so that pickup has yet to pay dividends for Philly. Turnovers, specifically stupid and unnecessary turnovers, tell the tale as Philly dug themselves into holes against Buffalo and the Giants that they couldn’t dig themselves out of primarily because of stupid turnovers. And of course there is the frustration that comes with blowing leads. This has added to the Eagles’ sinking psyche as getting beaten up and coming up short is one thing, but having a lead (maybe a big lead) and then losing it will eat away at a team even more. And with the Eagles, and the microscope they’ve been under since late-August, blowing leads against Atlanta (on national TV) and San Francisco have dealt them probably their two biggest blows of this early part of the season. In the end, I believe it’s simply a matter of trying too hard to fulfill expectations. None of the main players for this team have ever dealt that well with having the focus of a team and the expectations & pressure that go along with that all on them. Even with Vick, who handled everything well last season, this is only his second season back and the first since his time in jail where people have gone into the season expecting great things out of him. Last year he was able to fly under the radar and ease his way back into the public consciousness, but now people know what he’s still capable of and want to see more and more and more of it. So far that hasn’t happened, but it hasn’t happened with anyone on the Eagles team minus LeSean McCoy and Mike Kafka. The fact that Andy Reid hasn’t panicked yet is a good sign as this season isn’t over yet and isn’t worth giving up on yet. However, if the losing streak gets to five or six, then that time will have arrived.

 

Many including myself believed that LSU would be good this year. But when they lost Jordan Jefferson for the opening non-conference games, most including myself believed that they would only be so good with Jarrett Lee as starter. Instead LSU has become so good that they deserve their current ranking of #1 team in college football. The start of the year provided the perfect barometer for what this team could be this season. Starting the year against Oregon (another team with national title hype at the beginning of this season) in Dallas Stadium, then play an up-and-coming Mississippi State team on the road—with a home game against Northwestern State sandwiched in there—followed by their Road Test Saturday meeting in Morgantown with West Virginia, all three games showed different aspects of LSU’s game that not only looked good, but have continued to be good since conference play officially began for all of college football. Against Oregon and Mississippi State it was about creating turnovers and keeping the opponent’s offense completely grounded. Mississippi State didn’t score a touchdown, and to this day LaMichael James has not looked as powerless in a game while running the ball as he did that night in Dallas against LSU. All three of those opening road games allowed LSU’s apparently very underrated running attack to show itself as LSU’s running provided a lot of the scoring for the Tigers and was what primarily allowed them to control these games. The West Virginia game was the game where everything seemed to come together for LSU offensively. Their defense dominated the Mountaineers for the entire first half helping LSU to build a three touchdown lead, wasn’t very spectacular in the third quarter when the Mountaineers made their run, but made up for it in shutting the Mountaineers down in the fourth as LSU cruised to victory. And while LSU’s running attack was what finished off the Mountaineers on that night, the night really became Jarrett Lee’s coming out party as any negative talk about him and any doubts as to whether he could fill Jordan Jefferson’s shoes were put to rest. I initially had my doubts about Lee as his only experience as a reoccurring starter for LSU came in 2008 and the results weren’t that great. Plus, Jefferson is the more athletic quarterback and has more experience and success in the starter role. But what I, and all those who thought similarly, forgot about was that rushing attack. Since conference play has begun for everyone, Jefferson is back on the team after being cleared of charges stemming from a bar brawl prior to the beginning of the season, but the way LSU has continued to roll, you really wouldn’t have noticed any kind of change unless it was someone going down for the season with injury.

 

Tony Romo’s real name might as well be Dr. Henry Jekyll based on how the beginning of his season has gone. It has been a month full of differing headlines and head scratching among Cowboy fans, players, and personnel as to what has been up with their quarterback. Opening night against the Jets saw three beautiful quarters of football from Romo. Then in the fourth Romo fumbled the ball back to the Jets while attempting to run in a touchdown in a situation where Dallas could’ve settled for a field-goal. Then with the game tied, Romo threw an interception on probably his worst throw of the game, and that pick ended up leading to the Jets taking the lead and winning the game on a late field-goal of fifty yards by Nick Folk. The next week against San Francisco started even worse as Romo had to leave the game early with what later was reported as a punctured lung and a broken rib. The images alone of Romo angry and stalking the sidelines wanting to get back into the game was something Cowboy fans were glad to see, but what brought Romo back to their good graces was when he got back into the game. Romo finally re-entered the game with under a minute left in the third and was on fire from that moment on leading a ten-point comeback to send the game into overtime. And on the first play of OT for the Cowboys, Romo hit Jesse Holley, a football journeyman who won a Michael Irvin reality show to get a tryout with the Cowboys, for a 77-yard gain that was nearly a touchdown and nearly a fumble as Holley was not only holding the ball far too high and loose as he ran towards the end-zone, but he tried to slam the ball into the end-zone for the score as he was being pulled down. The play was down at the one and Dallas won on the next play via field-goal. The score: 27-24, just like the previous week against the Jets. Then after suffering through a Monday Night with the Redskins and still healing from his San Francisco wounds (a decision I still think Dallas shouldn’t have made) while gaining a victory, we got part three of Romo’s Jekyll & Hyde act. At home against the Lions, Romo again threw his team to a big lead, this time with two touchdowns to Dez Bryant and another to Jason Whitten. Then everything went haywire. Two Romo passes were intercepted and returned for touchdowns in the third quarter and another set up the game-winning touchdown for Detroit as the Cowboys blew a 24-point lead (all in the second half) to lose another last minute heartbreaker. In the great, great majority of games you can blame the quarterback or the quarterback will take blame because of his role as leader, but in Romo’s case, both of these losses are on him. Despite playing fabulous football for the majority of both losses, it was Romo’s turnovers specifically that allowed Dallas’ opponents back into the game. In the Detroit game, those two INT’s in the third directly equaled fourteen points for Detroit and the Dallas lead was cut slightly more than in half with still a whole quarter to play. And with the Jets, it was those two fourth quarter turnovers that cost Dallas the game as they had the lead and the game, but Romo gave the Jets two chances to make the game theirs and unlike Romo (in those games), the Jets made the most of that opportunity and won.

 

The new kickoff rule—all kickoffs from the 35-yard line instead of five yards back—didn’t sit well with many NFL players and even more fans when it was voted on by owners back in March. The belief was that it was going to make the kickoff next to meaningless due to touchbacks, so why not eliminate the kickoff and just start every team at their 20 after a score, right? Not so fast. While it appears to have been one of those very weird things, the opening week of NFL football saw many return touchdowns including Randall Cobb’s 108-yard return in the first game of the NFL season. As more return touchdowns were scored on that first Sunday, the discussion turned from the games themselves to the kickoff rule and whether it really meant anything at all. Those in favor of the new rule, as well as the owners who voted to make the change, believed that having kickoffs five yards closer would help eliminate injuries. Those against the rule, players and fans alike, believed that the change would kill the kickoff in general and eliminate the need for returners and thus force some players who have made their name, money, and reputation on return touchdowns to rethink their position on their respective teams. After week one, those in favor of the rule had some ammunition as all those touchdowns did show that the kickoff return touchdown was far from dead in pro football. And the fact that there have been kickoff return touchdowns in pro football (and near ones) since has proven that week one was not an anomaly. However, the part about making the kickoff safer has never stuck with me and is something I don’t believe can be accomplished by simply moving the ball five more yards forward before kicking it. What happened to Eric LeGrand last year around this time was as horrible as just about anything that can happen to a player on the football field. And it was LeGrand becoming paralyzed from the neck down during a kickoff that lead the charge toward the rule change. What everyone apparently forgets is that LeGrand’s injury illustrates one of the harshest realities of the game of football—a point I tried to make earlier in the year when I commented on the head shot issue in the NFL: these types of hits sometimes just happen. Even with the ball being kicked from the 35 these players, weighing between 200 and 300 pounds, are still running down the field full speed looking to hit whoever gets in their way of tackling the man with the ball. And when they tackle the man with the ball, they still lay into him with all their might if possible because that insures he will be tackled or go to the ground or even fumble the ball away. I don’t believe the rule change has made kickoffs any safer and I don’t believe anything really can make kickoffs any safer. A kickoff has two sides running headstrong across a football field at each other, all involved coming with bad intentions intent on laying the hardest hit on their opposing counterpart, all the while the man with the ball is trying to wiggle his way through all of this going as fast as he is able. And since every single kickoff can’t be a touchback, how do you make that completely safe?

 

It’s rare that opening weekend gives you a legitimate game of the year candidate. There are usually plenty of fun and exciting games with some upsets all packed into those beginning few days, but few games ever on the opening weekend of football have touched TCU/Baylor. With all of the attention toward TCU focused on their move to the Big-12 after previously agreeing to move to the Big East, it is still nice to go back to this game and this moment and see what a difference six weeks can really make.

 

The game was played in the 100 degree heat of Waco (so figure about 120 degrees for the players on the field) on a beautiful Friday night that would soon be transformed into a wild thrill-ride. Robert Griffin III got the attention of the country with a spectacular performance with an equal on the ground and through the air assault of a TCU defense that was one of the best in all of college football last season. But that was last season, and Griffin III’s five touchdown passes nailed the point home that this was a new year and that this was what TCU was going to have to deal with as far as defense this year. But it wasn’t only Griffin III leading the Baylor charge as Kendall Wright threw a 40-yard (and wide, wide open) touchdown to Terrence Williams on a flea-flicker to get things going on Baylor’s first possession. More trickery from Baylor would come, but the Williams/Wright connection wouldn’t be halted on this night as the two combined for four of Griffin III’s five touchdowns with the other coming on Lanear Simpson’s only catch of the night and from 64 yards. Before TCU made their comeback it was only their kickoff returners who kept them in the game. If it weren’t for several very long returns, Baylor may have run away with this game in even more impressive fashion than it appeared they were going to. TCU did benefit directly from those returns as they set up a couple of TCU scores during the first half, but it was the final quarter when everything finally starting working on all cylinders for the Horned Frogs. While more and more Baylor players were cramping up, TCU was mounting a major comeback almost gliding past the Baylor defense to the tune of 22 points on three straight possessions making this a competitive game again. The final seven minutes provided football fans with a battle of wills to withstand the heat (still simmering despite it being well into night by this point) and finish this game with the win. TCU would actually take the lead on a field-goal with four and a half minutes to play, but Baylor would leave Waco not with a spectacular collapse, but a last-second win. The deed was Aaron Jones’ first field-goal of the night after having a PAT blocked and missing one earlier in the night, something that would’ve cost his team had he not been on target as time expired.

 

The NFL got its version of TCU/Baylor on its very first game of its season. The last two Super Bowl champions, the Green Bay Packers (SB XLV) and the New Orleans Saints (SB XLIV), met in Lambeau Field to put all the ugliness of the lockout behind and start another season, and start it they did. What became one of the most offensive first month’s in NFL history was started with a shootout between two teams whose defenses were either at the top or near the top of the NFL last year. On this night, there was no room for defense. Aaron Rodgers lit up the Saints for nearly 200 yards and three touchdowns in the opening quarter while only throwing only one incomplete pass. The Saints would finally get their offense into gear and mount a comeback, getting to within four late in the first half, but would be fighting from behind the entire game. Still, they never gave up. And that is what made this game so sensational as both offenses were pressured to continue putting points on the board and both defenses struggled to find an answer on how to stop the other from putting those points on the board. Cobb’s kick return TD, Rodgers’ brilliance, Drew Brees throwing for massive amounts of yardage, and plenty of fabulous plays all around comprised this game, but the final minutes would be about New Orleans’ final assault. Jimmy Graham’s five-yard touchdown catch with over two minutes to go put the Saints within striking distance at 42-34 and somehow the Saints would get the ball back with one final chance. Brees lead his team all the way down to the goal line when time expired. However, there had been a penalty on what was thought to be the last play of the game and the Saints were given another shot. From the one, Mark Ingram took his dive toward a storybook beginning to his NFL career, only to be stopped by a determined Packer defense who got great penetration with Clay Matthews and Morgan Burnett both making the jumping stop. I cannot find a better “welcome to the pros” than this: a former Heisman Trophy winner in his first pro football game with a chance to win on a one-yard run on the game’s final play, and is held back. It was an incredible way to start the season—easily the best start since the NFL went to the Thursday night beginning—and foreshadowed what the rest of September would feature: offense.

 

And yet, with all the offense being displayed in the NFL this season, it’s nice to step back and note that defense still plays a part in the outcome. No game better showcased this than the Ravens/Jets Sunday Night game two weeks ago. Despite the 34-17 score, this game was all about defense, and most of it was the Ravens’. The Ravens defense has always been a tough, physical, and effective one. But this night was something different. The teams combined for four defensive touchdowns, tying an NFL record for a game, with three of those four coming from the Ravens (a team record). Ed Reed’s hit on Mark Sanchez caused the fumble that resulted in Jameel McClain’s six-yard return touchdown early in the opening quarter. Jarret Johnson would come next with a 26-yard return of another Jet fumble, and then Lardarius Webb’s untouched 73-yard interception return in the third would give the game its final score as the final twenty-three minutes was all defense, primarily the Ravens’ defense continuing to frustrate Sanchez and the Jets’ offense.

 

When Cam Newton was drafted #1 in this year’s NFL draft I did believe it was a mistake by Carolina. Not because Newton doesn’t possess talent or isn’t physical enough or anything like that, but because I believed Carolina needed a more pro ready quarterback as they have been suffering, you could say, more than any team in pro football at that position over the last few years. So to take a quarterback that was a mostly rushing quarterback in college—a kind of quarterback (see Tebow) that usually needs a lot of work to transition to the pro game properly—was something I didn’t understand as I figured it would take Newton much longer than the other main quarterbacks in this year’s draft (Christian Ponder, Jake Locker, Andy Dalton, Blaine Gabbert) to make the transition. But oh how I was wrong. Despite not performing all that well in the pre-season, Newton showed up to play week one and hasn’t stopped showing up to play since. With a 400+ yard passing performance in his debut, Newton had everyone’s attention. But everyone (myself again included) believed that in game two against the defending champion Packers Newton would be put in his place and shut down. Wrong again. Another 400+ yard passing performance had many people wanting to give this guy rookie of the year already. His numbers have gone down since then, though he did throw for nearly 400 in a loss to Chicago a few weeks back, but Newton’s overall performance hasn’t. And as of this moment, despite his team’s 1-4 record, Newton is a shoo-in to win rookie of the year.

 

Taking the Lions and Bills and Cam Newton into account, I believe there has been no bigger surprise in football (college or pro) so far this season than the Clemson Tigers. Through most of last season and the entire off-season all of the hype, headlines, and hoopla regarding the ACC focused around four teams: Florida St., Virginia Tech, Miami (Fla.), and North Carolina. Whether for good or bad, these four schools were the most covered in the conference. For Clemson, there was no C.J. Spiller last year and there isn’t one this year. Maybe that’s part of why the Tigers’ being the only unbeaten remaining in the ACC other than Georgia Tech is all the more stunning: no star player to fly them into the stratosphere. But Dabo Sweeny’s coaching, Tajh Boyd’s work at quarterback, and a defense playing tough-as-nails as well as forcing & converting turnovers, have all added up to a 6-0 start for Clemson with wins against three straight ranked teams (Auburn, Florida St., and Wake Forest) for the first time in school history. The end of the road will be much bumpier for the Tigers as they have their biggest test of the year on the road against Georgia Tech in what could end up being a preview of the ACC title game, and then they finish out the season on the road against NC State and then South Carolina. And with November being what it is in the world of college football, those last two aren’t forgone conclusion games. But we all must remember that the last time Clemson finished unbeaten was 1981, the year they won their school’s only football national championship.

 

I would be incredibly remiss if I did not mention the death of Al Davis this past weekend. There are few owners, if any, in professional sports that were as identifiable with the team they owned than Al. Since entering the Raider organization in the early-1960’s, Al has not only done everything in his power to help the Raiders win, but to become part of the Raider mystique that became so legendary amongst football fans and historians. In reality my memories of Al are of his final (and not best) years. They are of the Lane Kiffin fiasco and JaMarcus Russell’s plunge, and all the ugliness and poor play in-between. But those memories also house Rich Gannon and a Super Bowl appearance still within the last decade; and for some teams who have never even been to a Super Bowl it’s amazing to think that despite being one of the worst teams in football over the past decade, the Raiders have also been to a Super Bowl during that time. The real impact of Al’s time with the Raiders was made before I became a football fan. It was made with Super Bowl wins, Al’s work for the AFL during its battles with the NFL, and in bringing in supposedly washed up players and rejects from other teams to build a nucleus of talent with the one key ingredient that all truly great Raiders have had in some form: a chip on their shoulder. Because Al had that chip too, and as one former Raider said, “About what? Who knows.” Whatever it was that pushed Al, it was unrelenting and helped him build a franchise that nearly went out of business during its early days into a consistent winner and its logo become one of the symbols of pro football globally. I won’t be able to paint a proper picture of what Al meant to the Raiders despite mentioning the Super Bowls and the winning and the second chances this team gave to players and the mystique and the cultural impact. In reality, the best indication of what Al Davis meant to the Oakland Raiders, right up until the end, can be seen in current head coach Hue Jackson’s post-game speech to his team after their 25-20 victory over the Texans a day after Al’s passing.

 

I’ve never hidden my love of Michigan football, even in this column I have played favoritism toward my Wolverines on a few occasions. So it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that the ultimate moment for me during these first six weeks was the first night game in the history of Michigan Stadium. I felt incredibly stupid not realizing that there had never been a night game at The Big House before; I naturally assumed that through all those years of football in that stadiumm there was a night game snuck in. The fact that it was against Notre Dame made the night all the more important and historically relevant. Let alone the stadium’s history and now to be playing under the lights, but in one of the school’s two most intense football rivalries made the game’s setting all the more fitting. At the time I compared this night to the night Wrigley Field finally had its first night game back in the 1980’s, and I stand by that comparison today. These are two of the most historically important stadiums in their respective sports as both have housed so much history, so many great players and games, and both house teams that themselves are iconic (their uniforms, their colors, their logos, their histories) within their respective sports. So for the game to go the route it did through the first three quarters was a complete nightmare for me. But then Denard went wild. Down by seventeen with one quarter to play, Denard Robinson exploited the suddenly and very pitifully poor secondary play by Notre Dame as well as their inability to tackle him as he ran with the ball, and turned it all into four straight scoring possessions with the last culminating in his 16-yard touchdown throw to Roy Roundtree with only two seconds to play. The score put Michigan up and gave them a 35-31 victory. That last touchdown wasn’t as much of a gamble as initially thought to be as Michigan was down by a field-goal, had timeouts, and could afford to take a shot at the end-zone and still have time to tie the game if they missed. However, none of that would’ve been possible had it not been for Jeremy Gallon’s 64-yard reception the play before. Denard’s pass covered less than half of that, but there was nobody being within nearly ten yards of Gallon, so he had open field once he caught the ball and ended up nearly scoring on the play. The quarter itself was non-stop action and offense as even Notre Dame managed to get into the spirit, nearly winning the game late. After Michigan had scored their third straight touchdown and taken a four-point lead, Notre Dame went down the field in a frantic but focused manner landing some big passing gains of their own due to equally bad secondary play from the Wolverines. They went back up when Theo Riddick completed a 29-yard touchdown play. Only one problem: there was still 30 seconds left. And that was all Denard needed on this night. A fitting evening deserved a fitting finish, and though a big comeback was needed, this night got its fitting finish. This is the third straight year that Michigan has beaten Notre Dame with a touchdown in the final thirty seconds of the game as two years ago it was Tate Forcier leading the drive in the final minute and throwing the winning touchdown, and last year it was Denard running free to the end-zone for the win. This year has already featured so much incredible quarterback play that it may be suffocating (if possible) by late-November, but I still believe that there is no more exciting player to watch in college football today than Denard Robinson. Those 28 points in the fourth quarter against those hated Irish provide one more testament to such greatness.

 

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