His detractors are many, but few can say that Rich Rodriguez has not brought drama to the Michigan football program. His three-season tenure with the Wolverines has become its own reality show.
The most recent chapter in that on-going saga was not for the faint of heart, as the Wolverines eventually, finally and desperately outscored and outlasted Illinois in a historic 67-65, three-overtime Big Ten win.
For a program that has endured some other very public off-field wrangling, this time all of the drama took place on the football field.
The Wolverines came from behind, and then made all the right plays in overtime, including a game-saver from the much-maligned defensive unit. Michigan secured the victory when its defense snuffed out a desperation two-point conversion attempt by the Illini.
With the win, Michigan becomes bowl-eligible for the first time since the 2007 season. The victory also should temper the flames being stoked by those who want Rodriguez out at Michigan. Nothing like winning in ultra-dramatic fashion to -- maybe -- forge a little job security.
The Wolverines travel to face Purdue next, before closing with a rugged one-two combination of Wisconsin and Ohio State. Winning one of those three would be a realistic forecast, but Rodriguez can hope that beating Illinois will put his team on the path to bigger things.
--In Michigan's 67-65 win over Illinois, the teams' combined 132 points represents the most by two teams in Michigan's long and storied football history.
--The Wolverines had 419 passing yards in the triple-overtime win against Illini, setting a single-game school record.
--WR Roy Roundtree caught nine passes for a Michigan single-game record 246 yards and scored two touchdowns.
--WR Junior Hemingway had six catches for 104 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
--WR/KR Darryl Stonum had a 61-yard kick return late in the second quarter against Illinois, Michigan's longest kick return since Stonum's 94-yarder against Notre Dame early in the 2009 season.
GAME BALL GOES TO: WR Roy Roundtree -- The sophomore put together the best day by a receiver in Michigan history when he caught nine passes for a record 246 yards and scored a pair of touchdowns. The previous record -- 197 receiving yards -- was set more than 40 years ago by Jack Clancy.
KEEP AN EYE ON: RB Michael Shaw -- The merry-go-round of running backs the Wolverines have called on might have finally produced a front-runner. Shaw carried the ball nine times for 44 yards and scored three touchdowns in the win over Illinois. Two of those scores were in the overtime periods.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We kept the folks interested, but I'm really proud, and it's all about the heart of our guys. We have a lot of young guys, a lot of freshmen battling out there. I'm really proud of the way they hung in there and won at the end." -- Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez, on his team's triple-overtime win against Illinois.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
LOOKING GOOD: The Wolverines called on backup QB Tate Forcier in the fourth quarter of the shootout with Illinois to replace the injured Denard Robinson. Forcier came in cold, fumbled the ball away on his first possession, but then settled down and led the Wolverines to the victory in three overtimes.
STILL NEEDS WORK: The Wolverines allowed the Illini to rack up a bunch of yardage and score a bunch of points. That is something Michigan has been a little too good at doing. Illinois totaled 407 yards of offense and return yards, in just the first half. Before Michigan can entertain thoughts of challenging the Big Ten's best, the defense needs drastic improvement.
--QB Denard Robinson left the game against Illinois early in the fourth quarter with dizziness and a headache. He did not return.
--QB Tate Forcier replaced an injured Denard Robinson early in the fourth quarter against Illinois and led the Wolverines to the triple-overtime win.
--WR Roy Roundtree had his third 100-yard receiving game of the season and the fifth of his career.
--CB Courtney Avery, a freshman, made the first start of his career against Illinois.
--DL Will Heininger, who suffered a torn ACL in fall camp and was expected to miss the entire season, continues to progress in his rehab.
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