Devin Garner pulled out a coupe of tricks against Northwestern and not a second too late. Michigan remains in the hunt for an appearance in the Big Ten championship game appearance, thanks to a wild 38-31 overtime victory over Northwestern in Michigan Stadium this afternoon. Gardner's overtime run for a touchdown to the right side of the field gave the Wolverines a victory that did not look like it would come together.
Northwestern had built a 24-14 lead late in the third quarter with Kain Colter passing 23 yards to Dan Vitale for a score on the opening drive for the Wildcats in the second half. Northwestern had a promising drive working for them later on in the third quarter but had to settle for a field goal to build the ten-point lead. It may have been the true turning point of the game, because Michigan battled back with a short pass from Devin Gardner to running back Fitzgerald Toussaint was taken 28 yards for the score. Midway through the fourth quarter Michigan took the lead with Gardner connecting with Devin Funchess for an eight-yard touchdown pass.
As Northwestern looked to find a rhythm again they had to do so without quarterback Kain Colter. Colter had to be helped off the field by trainers, and he did not return. That left the job to Trevor Siemian, who completed a 21-yard pass for a first down on his first pass attempt replacing the injured Colter, and his second pass attempt was completed to Tony Jones for a 15-yards touchdown to give the Wildcats the lead.
Michigan picked up a solid kickoff return from Dennis Norfleet but Gardner was picked off by Demetrius Dugar on the first play of the drive right at midfield. After video review confirmed a successful fourth and one by the slimmest of margins, the Wildcats were able to work the clock some more and leave Michigan with too little time to find some last second magic. Or was it?
A desperation heave from Gardner was hauled in by Roy Roundtree, who bobbled the deep ball at first and showed great concentration to keep his hands on it as he fell to the ground for a 53-yard reception down at the Northwestern nine-yard line, allowing Michigan to tie the game and ultimately force overtime with a Brendan Gibbons field goal.
In the overtime session Michigan started with the football and took a lead with Gardner running at an angle to the right sideline for the touchdown. Northwestern was forced to a fourth down and two yards to go in order to keep the game alive, and after both teams used their timeouts, Michigan stuffed a handoff to Jones to seal the victory.
Kevin McGuire is the national college football writer for Examiner.com and host of the No 2-Minute Warning podcast. Follow him on Twitter, Google+and Facebook.
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