The game started out slow for both teams Saturday afternoon and as the sun went down and the sky went dark, the slowness persisted. The lights high above Ryan Field flooded the playing surface with a spotlight that seemed too bright for either team, even as Vines of their mistakes went viral.
There was the left-footed botched punt from Northwestern's Hunter Niswander. Then there was Michigan receiver Devin Funchess, who was hit in the side with a snap as he was crossing the formation. Just minutes later, Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner tripped over his running back. Then later in the third quarter, Tony Jones dropped a punt that gave Michigan a short field. And, in a surprising development, the Wolverines' De'Veon Smith ran in a touchdown to give Michigan a seven-point lead.
But Gardner later then threw an interception, which Ibraheim Campbell returned for 79 yards. And with an opportunity to tie the game, Northwestern did what they had been doing all game long: the offense amassed -28 yards on the drive. Niswander's punt dropped inside the five, where Godwin Igewbuike inadvertently kicked it out of the back of the endzone.
Then, by the grace of God himself, Northwestern went on a 19-play, 95-yard drive that got the Wildcats to the Michigan 10 yard-line. On third-and-goal, Northwestern threw a short pass to Justin Jackson that seemingly would set the offense up for a fourth-down try. Instead, head coach Pat Fitzgerald opted to take a field goal with just under seven-and-a-half minutes to left in the game.
So down 7-3, Fitzgerald chose to rely on his defense, the unit that had been playing well, if you could even say as much. But the Wolverines garnered a field goal. Setting up one last opportunity for Northwestern to salvage a victory, what would be the team's fourth of the season.
And when Trevor Siemian took the field with 3:03 left in regulation, the Wildcats did the improbable: they looked competent again. Siemian drove the team down the field and the Wildcats, of course, marched into overtime after Siemian found Tony Jones for a touchdown in the back corner of the endzone.
Pat Fitzgerald kept the offense on the field and in a poetic episode that, it seemed, the whole game had built to, Siemian slipped as he dropped back on the two-point conversion and Northwestern lost the game 10-9.