Dienhart: Breaking down the Sugar Bowl

Throughout the bowl season, BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart offers his thoughts on the Big Ten’s record 10 bowl games. Find Dienhart’s reaction to Michigan’s exciting overtime victory over Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl on Tuesday in this post.

Final: Michigan 23, Virginia Tech 20 OT (recap)

My pick: Michigan 27, Virginia Tech 26

What I Learned
1. QB Denard Robinson is who he is at this point of his career. He’s never going to be a great passer and typically only is effective when Michigan isn’t in obvious passing situations. And too often on this night, the Wolverines struggled on first downs, putting Shoelace and the Michigan attack in too many second- and third-and-longs. And Robinson struggled, hitting just 9-of-21 passes for 118 yards with two touchdowns and a pick and rank 13 times for 12 yards.

2. Michigan needs some running backs. Yes, Fitz Toussaint had 1,011 yards rushing entering the game, but the Wolverines could use some more viable running backs to continue to take pressure off of Denard Robinson.

3. Michigan is for real. Brady Hoke’s quick transformation has been nothing short of stunning. The Wolverines finished with 11 wins and won its first BCS game since the 1999 season when Tom Brady was the quarterback; Rich Rodriguez had 15 wins in three years. And, has been the case most of the year, the Michigan defense led the way by limiting the Hokies to three fields in the first three quarters and forcing three turnovers.

Key moment: Michigan scored 10 points in the final 49 seconds of the first half to take a 10-6 halftime lead. That helped serve as a spark for a Wolverine offense that struggled most of the night.

Key stat: 184, Michigan’s total yards. It entered the game with a 423.1-yard average. But the Wolverines benefitted from four big Va Tech special teams gaffes, including a botched fake punt in the second half and a missed field goal in overtime.

Sneak peek toward 2012: Michigan may be the favorite in the Legends Division with Denard Robinson back, along with most of the line, WR Roy Roundtree and RB Fitz Toussaint. Yes, star T Mike Martin is gone, but the defense also figures to continue to improve with players like E Craig Roh, LB Kenny Demens and a good collection of defensive backs returning for a unit that will continue to improve under coordinator Greg Mattison.

Tom Dienhart is a senior writer for BTN.com. Find all of his work at www.btn.com/tomdienhart, follow Dienhart on Twitter at @BTNTomDienhart, send a question to his weekly mailbag here, and click here to subscribe to his RSS feed. Also, find Sugar Bowl Champs gear in our BTN,com store right here.


Your Opinion?
Show Comments (5 Comments)
Willard Bennett on 1/4/2012 @ 12:58am EDT Said:

The Hokies got totally screwed in front of a national television audience. In Overtime that was clearly a good touchdown that was overturned.I guess as long as there is corruption ang greed there will always be somebody willing to look the other way for the right amount of money. Last year Calvin Johnson, this year the Hokies.

    Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer on 1/4/2012 @ 9:08am EDT Said:

    I don’t think so. To me, the tip of the ball hit the ground while not being totally seucure. Rather than that being the issue, Tech’s biggest problem was special teams breakdowns. FOUR of them!!

Carla on 1/4/2012 @ 9:38am EDT Said:

I live in Washington, DC and even out here people aren’t agreeing with Willard. The ball touched the ground so it wasn’t deemed a catch. Furthermore, the Wolverines outplayed the Hokies and VT had a big reputation of choking in the big games. This Sugar Bowl wasn’t an exception.

mhomer on 1/4/2012 @ 10:57am EDT Said:

not only was the ball not secure, he was clearly out of bounds when he first touched the ground. I can’t believe that the referee standing right there with a great view of it called it a touchdown. At least they made the right decision after that.

mhomer on 1/4/2012 @ 10:59am EDT Said:

give props to tech for having a great game plan and playing a very good game. i think that was the worst Michigan’s offense has looked this season.