Brewster Proud Papa after Overtime Victory
Saturday, September 8, 2007

“Every baby is a beautiful baby, and this one is no different,” babbled University of Minnesota head football coach Tim Brewster in the aftermath of his team’s 41-35 triple-overtime victory over Miami (Ohio) at the Metrodome.

Brewster’s “baby” was his first victory as a college head coach. He neglected to mention that Minnesota squandered a 16-point fourth-quarter lead and nearly threw the baby out with the bath water.

In a game that felt bizarrely like the Insight Bowl contest that ended the Gophers’ 2006 season, and halted the head coaching career of Glen Mason, Minnesota appeared determined to once again snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. When Adam Weber tossed a five-yard touchdown pass to Ernie Wheelwright for a 28-12 Gopher lead (counting the extra point) with 8:35 showing on the clock, a number of Minnesota fans headed for the exits, causing press box analysts to muse: When will the fools learn? No lead is ever safe with the Golden Gophers.

Miami brought in its second-string quarterback, Daniel Raudabaugh, a man who previously had thrown one touchdown pass in his career, and the newcomer hit Eugene Harris for a 38-yard gain to the Minnesota 33-yard line. He completed short passes to Andre Bratton and Harris before finding Armand Robinson in the end zone for a 20-yard touchdown pass competion. Miami, however, failed in its attempt for a two-point conversion. Going for the two points was something that coach Shane Montgomery would come to regret.

Six minutes and 51 seconds remained on the clock. Montgomery made another questionable decision when he went for the on-side kick, which was caught by Minnesota’s Nick Tow-Arnett at the Gopher 40-yard line. Minnesota thus had a relatively short field to work with. Nonetheless, a pessimist in the press box announced that he had a premonition of what would happen next. “The Gophers will go, three-and-out,” he said, “followed by a Miami touchdown and a game-tying field goal. Gentlemen, we are looking at overtime!” A reporter sitting next to him scoffed but was gently reminded that the prognosticator was at the Insight Bowl game in Tempe, Arizona, and the scoffer was not.

As if by magic, the Gophers went three-and-out and was able to drain slightly more than a minute off the clock. Miami started a drive at its own 20 yard line with 4:59 left to play. Raudabaugh looked more like Sammy Baugh as he masterfully engineered a nine-play, 80-yard touchdown drive that consumed only one minute and 49 seconds of the game clock. Many of the youth’s passes were directed at Gopher freshman defensive back Ryan Collado, a player considerably less in stature than the 5-9 height listed in the media guide. In fact, Collado would have no trouble finding work with the Singer Midgets. Earlier in the game, Gopher players were believed to have been seen eating apples off of Collado’s head.

Trevor Cook kicked off for the RedHawks to the Minnesota 32-yard line where Jay Thomas returned the ball 23 yards to the Miami 45-yard line. The Gopher drive started with three minutes and 10 seconds left on the clock. It seemed inevitable that the Gophers would be unable to eat up the clock, and indeed they did not. Amir Pinnix rushed for two yards, and Weber threw a couple of incomplete passes. Justin Kucek then punted into the Miami end zone, and the RedHawks started their drive from the 20 yard line. With two minutes left in the game, Raudabaugh had plenty of time to set up the game-tying field goal, which was accomplished by Cook from the Gophers’ 36 yard line. It should be noted that Minnesota was lucky to escape with a tie in regulation. A Raudabaugh end-zone touchdown pass to Robinson was nullified when officials ruled that Robinson was out-of-bounds. Replays, however, showed that this was not the case. The ruling on the field, however, stood.

For more than a decade, ties had been an accepted part of football. Often a tie is a reward for an over-achieving team and can provide a lesson for the under-achieving one. Professional football went for sudden-death overtime first, next came the colleges, spurred on by the desire of TV moguls to extend games and reap the rewards of increased advertising revenue. The NCAA, however, did not go for the NFL overtime formula. Oh no, colleges had to change the rules of football for the extra period(s). Any sport that changes the rules of the game when they go into overtime (hockey, soccer) is automatically suspect. The outcome of overtime thus becomes a crap shoot and nullifies the four quarters of football that preceded it. No one had been able to eloquently explain what is wrong with a tie.

Be that as it may, the first overtime in the Minnesota-Miami contest ended in a 35-35 tie, as did the second. Why the second OT period ended in a tie is one for the books. First, Gopher kicker Jason Giannini went wide left on a 26-yard field goal attempt. Giannini is commonly known in these parts for missing crucial field goal and point-after-touchdown attempts. Giannini drove coach Mason to the brink of insanity, so much so that he was forbidden to kick in not one, but two bowl games. Had Mason’s services been retained by athletic director Joel Maturi, Giannini would have likely wound up as the kicker at Mesabi State Community College. New coach Brewster, however, liked what he saw in the kicker. That is until last Saturday afternoon. “I was not pleased,” Brewster said and indicated that Joel Monroe would be the placekicker against Florida Atlantic. (Monroe had replaced Giannini in the Music City and Insight bowl games.)

Having been handed the game on a platinum platter, all Miami’s Cook, a candidate for the coveted Lou Groza Award (annually given to the best kicker in NCAA Division 1-A), came on the field and pulled a Giannini, going wide right from the 33-yard line.

For the third overtime, college football rules dictate that teams must go for two-point conversions, a further bastardization of the rules. Fortunately, this situation didn’t present itself at the Metrodome. Minnesota won the toss, electing to go on defense (as is the custom in college football overtimes). Minnesota corner back Jamal Harris, who earlier had dropped passes that hit him squarely in the chest, redeemed himself with an interception of a Raudabaugh pass, setting up the winning score, which occurred on a two-yard touchdown run by Pinnix. “We were due for some luck,” Brewster said, “and we got it when Cook missed that field goal.”

Miami University (Ohio) is tired of being referred to as the “other Miami.” Students and faculty are proud to proclaim: “Miami was a university when Florida belonged to Spain.” Miami is the name of a Native American tribe that today resides primarily in Oklahoma. The city of Miami in Florida was named by real estate investors who hailed from a region in Ohio known as the Miami Valley.

Last Saturday marked Miami’s 53rd meeting against a Big Ten opponent. The RedHawks are 12-39-2 against Big Ten teams. Last season, Miami dropped a 21-3 decision to Northwestern in Oxford, Ohio, and lost in overtime to Purdue the following Saturday. Miami’s last win against a Big Ten foe came in 2003 when the RedHawks vanquished Northwestern.

Minnesota and Miami had met on the football field only once prior to September 8. The final score of that 1988 game was Minnesota 35, Miami 3. Darrell Thompson rushed for 179 yards and scored three touchdowns against Miami. Thompson also threw a pass for a touchdown. It is well to note that Minnesota finished the 1988 season with only two victories, none in the Big Ten. Could this be a sign of the type of season coach Brewster can expect in 2007?

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