The teams won’t be going to the National Championship Game, or even a BCS bowl. There will be no postgame praise, let alone postseason awards. But for one afternoon in Ann Arbor, two unranked teams gave college football fans one of the most entertaining, exhilarating, and exhausting games in recent memory.
After a Michael Shaw touchdown run, Tate Forcier hit Junior Hemingway for the decisive two-point conversion in the third overtime to lead Michigan (6-3, 2-3) to a 69-67 victory over Illinois (5-4, 3-3). Mikel Leshoure had a three-yard touchdown run, but Nathan Scheelhaase’s desperation two-point conversion pass was incomplete to seal the win.
It was the highest single-game point total in Big Ten history, topping Michigan’s 130-0 victory over West Virginia in 1904. The teams combined for more points than last year’s basketball teams, which ended at 51-44. This game also featured more scoring than any of the 23 ArenaBowls.
The Wolverine defense getting a critical stop was the fitting end to a game where neither defense was effective. Denard Robinson hit Roy Roundtree for a 75-yard touchdown on the first play from scrimmage, then added a 33-yard pass to Roundtree on a fourth and 9 play. Robinson finished with 305 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions before being replaced by Forcier after a hand injury.
If Illinois couldn’t stop Michigan, the Wolverines were just as bad on defense. Scheelhaase threw touchdown passes to Ryan Lankford and Mikel Leshoure, plus a two-point conversion to Lankford, while running for one touchdown on his own. Jason Ford had a 62 yard touchdown, and Leshoure added a one-yard run. Scheelhaase had 221 passing yards with three touchdowns. Both Scheelhaase and Leshoure had over 100 rushing yards each.
Leshoure scored two touchdowns in overtime, one rushing and one receiving. Shaw scored twice for the Wolverines, and Hemingway caught a touchdown and two-point conversion pass in overrtime.
Next week, Illinois will give bowl eligibility another shot when Minnesota (1-9, 0-6) comes to Champaign for Senior Day. The Golden Gophers lost to Michigan State 31-8 on Saturday.