Rapid Reaction: Cade McNamara rescues Michigan in 3OT thriller vs. Rutgers
Final score: Michigan 48 Rutgers 42
Quick recap: A change was needed. Rutgers had little trouble with Michigan in the first half, building a 17-0 lead and appearing to be on the way to a blowout victory of the Wolverines. But a decision by Jim Harbaugh to pull Joe Milton and insert Cade McNamara under center saved the day. Trailing 17-0, McNamara threw a 46-yard touchdown pass to Cornelius Johnson on his first drive at the end of the 1st half, closing the gap to 17-7 and giving the Wolverines a spark. Then, to open the 2nd half, Giles Jackson returned the kickoff 95 yards to make it a one-possession game at 17-14. The two teams traded punches throughout the 2nd half, but Michigan took its first lead at 28-27, thanks to a 6-yard pass from McNamara to Mike Sainristil. The Wolverines tacked on one more touchdown to make it an 8-point game, but Noah Vedral was able to lead the Scarlet Knights to a game-tying touchdown and 2-point conversion with less than 1 minute to play. It took three overtimes, but a Hassan Haskins touchdown run finally proved to be enough for the Wolverines to snap a three-game losing skid.
Key moment: McNamara’s touchdown pass to Johnson before the half might’ve been the biggest play of the game for Michigan. Without that play, the Wolverines would’ve been trailing 17-0 at halftime with no momentum of any kind entering the 3rd quarter. That was a huge confidence booster.
Key player: In case you haven’t noticed the theme of the night, McNamara definitely deserves this honor. Once McNamara replaced Milton, everything changed. McNamara ended the game completing 27-of-3 pass attempts for 260 yards and 4 touchdowns. He also had a rushing touchdown in the win.
Key stat: The key stat that pops out in this one is Rutgers being penalized 12 times for 96 yards compared to Michigan’s 5 penalties for 40 yards. When everything else proved to be even, that was the difference in this one.
What it means for Michigan (2-3): As ugly as this season has been for Michigan, there may be some way to salvage the season. The Wolverines still have games against Penn State (0-5), Maryland (2-1) and Ohio State (4-0). They’ll have a shot to win two of those games and finish the regular season with a 4-4 record, which seems like a minor miracle at this point in the year. Maybe a win over Rutgers to snap a three-game losing streak is just enough momentum to get Jim Harbaugh’s team back to .500.
What it means for Rutgers (1-4): There are still growing pains, but this team continues to fight. That doesn’t mean much in the locker room, because the Scarlet Knights had plenty of chances to beat Michigan. Still, the improvement is noticeable. The wins may not be coming, but this is a team that battles until the final play and continues to get better each week.