#41: 2012 Sugar Bowl — Michigan @ Virginia Tech in NCAA Football 12

Along with the Sun Bowl and the Orange Bowl, the Sugar Bowl is the second-oldest Bowl Game—trailing only the Rose Bowl—in college football today.  The 2012 Allstate Sugar Bowl will be contested between the Michigan Wolverines and the Virginia Tech Hokies.  Typically the Sugar Bowl hosts the SEC Champion, but since LSU is in the BCS National Championship Game this season the Sugar Bowl Committee elected to select two at-large bids instead of selecting teams from the BCS Top Ten; a move that has led to criticism by college football fans who wished to see higher-ranked schools squaring off at the Superdome.  That said, the game will be Michigan’s second-ever Sugar Bowl appearance and Virginia Tech’s fourth appearance in the game, and the showdown between a Big Ten school and an ACC school should prove entertaining.

Although the Wolverines hold a slight ratings edge in NCAA Football 12 over the Hokies—something that would usually influence me to play as Virginia Tech in this match-up—my rooting interest for the University of Michigan overruled and set me up in the maize-and-blue for the STAT BOX STORIES playthrough of the 2012 Allstate Sugar Bowl.

After winning the coin toss, I elected to kick off to Virginia Tech to begin the game.  The first Hokies drive passed quickly with a three-and-out, but when I got the ball back for Michigan’s first offensive possession I suffered the same fate.  Virginia Tech’s next drive did manage to achieve a first down, but a big sack of the quarterback on the subsequent third down led to another punt back to Michigan.  On that Wolverines possession, Michigan drove the field and finished off with an 11-yard touchdown run to take a 7-0 lead with 1:42 remaining in the first quarter.

Virginia Tech’s next drive ended as another three-and-out, and the subsequent Michigan possession ended with another rushing touchdown; this one from 14 yards out with 5:37 remaining in the second quarter.

The Hokies managed to achieve a few first downs on their next possession, but another sack on third down set up a Virginia Tech punt.  Penalties against Michigan set up a 1st-and-19 attempt in Virginia Tech territory later on their next possession, but the offense was unconcerned as a 27-yard touchdown run was ripped off and the lead was increased to 21-0.

As with so many other drives, the next Virginia Tech possession ended due to a big sack on third down; once Michigan got the ball back, a long play action pass set up an 8-yard touchdown run and the fourth touchdown of the first half for HB #28 with 44 seconds remaining in the second quarter.  A Hail Mary pass by Virginia Tech late in the first half was intercepted by Michigan and the score at halftime was 28-0 in favor of the designated “visiting” team.

Michigan’s offense was stymied on their first possession of the third quarter and punted to Virginia Tech, but the Hokies were still unable to do anything on offense and quickly went three-and-out.  On the next Wolverines possession, Virginia Tech’s defense stepped up and picked off Michigan’s quarterback for an interception return for a touchdown; unfortunately for the Hokies, a defensive lineman had been offside on the play, nullifying the score.  After a dropped pass on third down later in the drive, Michigan settled for a 28 yard field goal to go up 31-0.

In the fourth quarter on Virginia Tech’s next drive, they were driving into Michigan territory and it looked as though they might finally get onto the scoreboard.  A penalty and a sack set up 4th-and-19 and a 53-yard field goal attempt, however, and the kick was well wide to keep the Hokies points at 0.  Michigan’s next drive ended in an interception on 3rd-and-Long in Virginia Tech territory, and the Hokies were given one last opportunity to get into position to avoid being shut out on the Bowl Game stage.

With 55 seconds remaining in the game, Virginia Tech had the ball at Michigan’s 2-yard-line with a 4th-and-1 set up.  The play call was a run to the strong side of the line, but Michigan’s defensive lineman got through and tackled the halfback for a loss and turnover on downs to preserve the shutout after the Wolverines ran out the clock.

The first shutout of STAT BOX STORIES play for NCAA Football 12 was understandably one-sided when considering the final Team Stats.  Michigan had twice the number of First Downs that Virginia Tech did, and they also outgained the Hokies by 207 yards.  The Wolverines had 280 rushing yards compared to Virginia Tech’s 44, though the Hokies held a 29-yard advantage in passing yards.  Michigan got into the Red Zone six times in the game—converting for points on five of those opportunities—while Virginia Tech didn’t get into the Red Zone until the last minute of the game and was stuffed on 4th Down.  Even though the Time of Possession was close, Michigan did much more with the ball when they had it and that allowed for such a one-sided result.

Despite the fact that the game was played inside, the passing game had little success for either quarterback; each team’s QB threw an interception, and neither was able to score through the air.  Michigan’s two halfbacks had a much better performance—even though HB #28 went down to injury shortly after halftime—with HB #20 gaining 158 yards and HB #28 ending the game with 111 yards and four touchdowns to take Player of the Game honors.

One more BCS Bowl game remains this week; the 2012 Discover Orange Bowl, set to be contested between the West Virginia Mountaineers and the Clemson Tigers.  Make sure to come back tomorrow here at STAT BOX STORIES to see who emerges victorious!

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