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Published: Monday, 11/12/2012

With Hoke, UM has luck, relevance

BY DAVE HACKENBERG
BLADE SPORTS COLUMNIST
Michigan football coach Brady Hoke, left, hasn't experienced bad timing or bad karma during his time in Ann Arbor, unlike his predecessor, Rich Rodriguez. Michigan football coach Brady Hoke, left, hasn't experienced bad timing or bad karma during his time in Ann Arbor, unlike his predecessor, Rich Rodriguez.
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It would be fool­ish to sug­gest Rich Ro­dri­guez is a bad foot­ball coach. There is too much ev­i­dence to the con­trary.

His three poor-to-lack­lus­ter sea­sons at Mich­i­gan were fu­eled by bad tim­ing and bad karma.

Brady Hoke has ex­pe­ri­enced lit­tle of ei­ther.

While RichRod spent far too much time bob­bing, weav­ing, and duck­ing for cover at ev­ery drama, Hoke was em­braced from Day One and has pretty much been able to coach, re­cruit, eat, and sleep peace­fully.

A lit­tle luck hasn’t hurt. He has coached two of the Wol­v­er­ines’ great­est come-from-be­hind, last-sec­ond wins.

A vic­tory over Notre Dame early last sea­son set the tone for a re­mark­able 11-2 cam­paign and a BCS bowl vic­tory.

If UM should find its way to the Big Ten cham­pi­on­ship game and an­other ma­jor bowl ap­pear­ance, the im­pe­tus will have been Satur­day’s re­mark­able win over North­west­ern.

What con­nects the two is re­ceiver Roy Round­tree.

He caught a pretty well-de­fended, game-win­ning pass with 0:02 on the clock against Notre Dame in 2011 as the Wol­v­er­ines, who at one point faced a 17-point def­i­cit, moved 80 yards in 28 sec­onds.

On Satur­day, UM was down three points and in pos­ses­sion at its own 38-yard line with 18 sec­onds to play. Devin Gard­ner heaved one deep and it was a jump ball be­tween Round­tree and North­west­ern cor­ner­back Daniel Jones. One or both tipped the ball, Round­tree main­tained his po­si­tion and poise, reached be­hind, pulled it in off his shoul­der, fell to the ground and held on for a 53-yard gain.

Bren­dan Gib­bons turned the play into a ty­ing 26-yard field goal and the Wol­v­er­ines won in over­time.

Rank­ing it on his hit pa­rade, Round­tree said the catch was “prob­a­bly No. 1, but Notre Dame last year was good.”

They were both mag­i­cal mo­ments, un­ex­pected, some­what un­be­liev­able.

“It kind of fell into Roy’s hands,” said Hoke. Like manna from above.

Under Hoke, the Wol­v­er­ines have been lucky and good. It’s a tough com­bi­na­tion to beat and it has re-stamped Mich­i­gan foot­ball as rel­e­vant.

■ A lit­tle of this, a lit­tle of that, on col­lege foot­ball:

Ala­bama’s loss to Texas A&M paves the way for Kan­sas State to play in the BCS cham­pi­on­ship game. If the Wild­cats take care of busi­ness, in­clud­ing a rug­ged sea­son-end­ing date with Texas, they could pos­si­bly slam the door on an­other un­beaten, Notre Dame. Had you sug­gested such a thing a cou­ple de­cades ago, pre-Bill Sny­der, when Man­hat­tan, Kan., was the arm­pit of col­lege foot­ball, mil­lions would have laughed at you …

Ore­gon is the new No. 1 AP poll team and per­haps the Ducks will nix the old ad­age that de­fense wins cham­pi­on­ships. They are all of­fense all the time. Cal man­aged to limit the Pac 12’s top rush­ing team, so quar­ter­back Mar­cus Mar­i­ota merely threw for 377 yards and a school-record six touch­downs …

Th­ings can change, of course, but right now it looks like no SEC team will be in the ti­tle game. ’Bama and Geor­gia are hang­ing around, but a lot would have to hap­pen …

Quote of the week­end: “No one is go­ing to ask me any­more if we de­serve to be here.” — Texas A&M coach Kevin Sum­lin, ref­er­enc­ing his school’s first sea­son af­ter jump­ing from the Big 12 to the SEC …

Kent State is No. 25 in this week’s AP poll, mark­ing the first time the Flashes (9-1) have been ranked in 39 sea­sons ...

It is less than 15 miles from Kent to Akron, which ap­par­ently is the dif­fer­ence be­tween ranked and rank. UMass col­lected its first FBS win Satur­day, pick­ing off four passes and block­ing a punt against Terry Bow­den’s 1-10 Zips …

If I was pick­ing a MAC team for the poll it would have been North­ern Il­li­nois, also 9-1. Kent State had a sig­na­ture win over then-un­beaten Rut­gers on the road while NIU lacks such a vic­tory on its re­sume …

Satur­day’s Kent State at Bowl­ing Green game may be the best MAC match-up of the sea­son. The Flashes have a pow­er­ful rush­ing game and a high-scor­ing of­fense. BG ranks No. 1 among league teams in scor­ing de­fense (15.1 points), rush­ing de­fense (103.7 yards), pass­ing de­fense, (181.7) and, of course, to­tal de­fense (285.4 yards). It should be worth the price of ad­mis­sion.

Con­tact Blade sports col­um­nist Dave Hack­en­berg at: dhack@the­blade.com or 419-724-6398.

 



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