Bradley Handwerger / WWLTV.com Sports Reporter
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter: @wwltvsports
NEW ORLEANS ― Michigan hadn’t been to a BCS bowl game since the 2007 Rose Bowl and hadn’t even won a bowl game in four years.
Now, after only their second trip to New Orleans, they might never want to leave.
The Wolverines came from behind, held off a late Virginia Tech rally and left the Superdome with a 23-20 overtime win on Brendan Gibbons’ 37-yard field goal.
Immediately Michigan’s faithful, decked in maize and blue, erupted into Hail to the Victors – Michigan was back on top in a big-time bowl game.
“Michigan never left,” Michigan coach Brady Hoke said. “Some people may have thought that way, but Michigan never left.”
Virginia Tech, meanwhile, will sit back and wonder what if.
Third-string kicker Justin Myer went 4-for-4 during regulation, but missed the biggest kick of his career, a 37-yard field goal on the first possession of overtime.
The Hokies’ first-string and second-string kickers were booted from the Sugar Bowl trip for breaking team rules during bowl preparation.
“We wanted to get a win for the ACC,” said Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer, who fell to 1-5 in BCS games. “We wanted to get a win for Virginia Tech. We haven’t done as well as we want to in these BCS games.”
There were those wondering on selection Sunday whether Michigan or Virginia Tech even belonged in a BCS game.
To that, Hoke doesn’t buy it.
“People always are going to have an opinion,” he said. “That’s part of the beauty of college football, part of the beauty of the BCS. I can you that team we played tonight is a pretty dadgum good football team. I think we’re a pretty good football team. People will have their opinion, we just disagree with them.”
Virginia Tech nearly had a touchdown in overtime. Logan Thomas’ pass to a diving Danny Coale was caught and originally called good, putting the Hokies up 27-20.
But a booth review overturned the call after replays showed Coale didn’t secure the catch before the ball touched the ground.
“Danny’s play is so close,” Beamer said. “Just seemed like there was just quite a few of those there tonight. So close, but just didn’t have it go our way.”
Michigan was content to play for the game-winning field goal in Brady Hoke’s first season at the helm.
Three plays netted five yard, setting Gibbons up for his game-winning boot.
“I thought it was good when I hit it,” Gibbons said. “It felt good coming off my foot.”
Virginia Tech contained electric Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson, holding him to 42 yards on 13 carries and only 9 of 17 for 117 yards passing.
Michigan finished with only 184 total yards and had the ball nearly 14 minutes fewer than Virginia Tech.
But the Hokes couldn’t figure out a way to stop Wolverines receiver Junior Hemingway, who finished with two catches for 63 yards and two touchdowns, including a leaping 18-yarder from Robinson in the third quarter.
Two turnovers by Virginia Tech, though, changed the game.
The Hokies fumbled the ball to Michigan on its own 7 late in the second quarter that led to a field goal.
The killer turnover, however, came in the third quarter when Michigan’s Frank Clark intercepted Thomas, returning it to the Hokies’ 35. Three players later, Robinson hit Hemingway for a touchdown.
“He saw me rolling out,” Thomas said. “I was just trying to dump it over his head. He timed his jump perfectly and got his hands on it and came down with it. All the credit to him. He made a great play.”