Monday, May 21, 2018
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With Hoke, UM has luck, relevance


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@the­ or 419-724-6398.


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