Top 5 moments: Gibbons beats MSU
December, 12, 2012
By Michael Rothstein | ESPN.com
AP Photo/Carlos OsorioKicker Brendan Gibbons hit three field goals against Michigan State, including a late game-winner.This week, WolverineNation will look at the five most critical moments of Michigan's 2012 football season (bowl excluded). These aren't necessarily positive or negative moments, but the five moments that most impacted this football season.
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Two seasons ago, as a redshirt freshman, Brendan Gibbons was one of the worst kickers in the FBS. He lost his job to walk-on Seth Broekhuizen.
He made only 1 of 5 field goals before seeing his job disappear, a scholarship kicker on the sidelines in the final season of Rich Rodriguez’s tenure.
The shift in coaching staffs from Rodriguez to Brady Hoke, along with a new season in 2011, led to a renewed confidence from Gibbons and culminated last season in a game-winning kick to beat Virginia Tech in the Allstate Sugar Bowl.
That set up this season, and Gibbons came through again -- this time against a rival. Gibbons made three field goals against Michigan State, including a 38-yarder to give Michigan a 12-10 win over the Spartans, the No. 3 most critical moment of the Wolverines’ season.
“They are all pretty big kicks,” Gibbons said after the game, asked to compare his Sugar Bowl kick to this one. “This one is a big one. Our bigger goal is to win the Big Ten championship, not just beat Michigan State.”
Michigan obviously didn’t reach the Big Ten title game -- although at that point in the season the Wolverines were on pace for it. Instead, beating Michigan State turned into the biggest win of this season.
Michigan had not beaten Michigan State in the four previous meetings, in games ranging from near blowouts to a crushing overtime loss in 2009 that might have shifted Rodriguez’s entire tenure at Michigan, had the Wolverines won.
And the Wolverines, as had happened in those earlier losses, were unable to do much offensively. Michigan failed to score a touchdown, relying on the leg of Gibbons for four field goals and its defense to stifle the Spartans.
Gibbons has changed dramatically from his rough freshman season. He has been relied on more often by his coaches and his confidence has soared.
Gibbons has made 14 of 16 field goals this season and 27 of 33 over the past two seasons. He also has connected on 10 in a row entering the Outback Bowl -- a long way from his first season in Ann Arbor.
Top Returning Players: Big Ten East
BIG TEN SCOREBOARD
Final Washington State 45 Colorado State 48 Final 20 Fresno State 20 25 USC 45 Final Buffalo 24 San Diego State 49 Final Tulane 21 Louisiana-Lafayette 24
Final Pittsburgh 30 Bowling Green 27 Final Utah State 21 23 Northern Illinois 14
Final Marshall 31 Maryland 20 Final Syracuse 21 Minnesota 17 Final Brigham Young 16 Washington 31
Final Rutgers 16 Notre Dame 29 Final Cincinnati 17 North Carolina 39 Final Miami (FL) 9 18 Louisville 36 Final Michigan 14 Kansas State 31
Final Middle Tennessee 6 Navy 24 Final Ole Miss 25 Georgia Tech 17 Final 10 Oregon 30 Texas 7 Final 14 Arizona State 23 Texas Tech 37
Final Arizona 42 Boston College 19 Final Virginia Tech 12 17 UCLA 42 Final Rice 7 Mississippi State 44 Final 24 Duke 48 21 Texas A&M 52
Final Nebraska 24 22 Georgia 19 Final UNLV 14 North Texas 36 Final Iowa 14 16 LSU 21 Final 19 Wisconsin 24 9 South Carolina 34 Final 5 Stanford 20 4 Michigan State 24 Final 15 UCF 52 6 Baylor 42
Final 13 Oklahoma State 31 8 Missouri 41 Final 12 Clemson 40 7 Ohio State 35