-- The University of Michigan football team won a thrilling 35-34 overtime victory against Alabama in the 2000 FedEx Orange Bowl Saturday (Jan. 1) at Pro Player Stadium. The Wolverines played and won in the first overtime contest in school history.
The victory provided Michigan with its third straight 10-win season (10-2) and moved the program's bowl record to 16-15 overall. The Wolverines won their third straight bowl game for only the third time in school history and claimed their first victory in the Orange Bowl (1-1 record).
With the score knotted at 28-28 at the end of regulation, Alabama won the coin toss to begin overtime and chose to go on defense. Michigan chose to play in the end zone that it had scored all 28 of its points and in which its fans were seated.
The Wolverines scored on their first play of the first overtime as senior quarterback Tom Brady (San Mateo, Calif./Serra HS) hit sophomore tight end Shawn Thompson (Saginaw, Mich./Nouvel HS) on a 25-yard passing play. Sophomore kicker Hayden Epstein (Cardiff, Calif./Torrey Pines HS) hit the extra point to give Michigan a 35-28 lead, its first of the contest.
On Alabama's first possession of overtime, Alexander carried for four yards on the first play and Andrew Zow threw a 21-yard touchdown to wide receiver Antonio Carter. Alabama's Ryan Pflugner pushed the extra point attempt wide right and Michigan claimed a 35-34 overtime victory.
Brady completed 33-of-45 passing attempts for 344 yards and threw three touchdown passes (statistics do not include 25-yard game-winner to Thompson). Sophomore wide receiver David Terrell (Richmond, Va./Huguenot HS) was named the Orange Bowl MVP after setting career bests in receiving yards (150) and receiving touchdowns (three) as well as equaling his career high in receptions (10).
Michigan's defensive effort was spearheaded by senior inside linebackers Ian Gold (Belleville, Mich./Belleville HS) and Dhani Jones (Potomac, Md./Winston Churchill HS).
Alabama won the toss and deferred to Michigan. The Wolverines elected to receive the kickoff of the 2000 FedEx Orange Bowl game. The two teams traded possessions throughout the first quarter and were unable to put together substantial drives. The Michigan defense held Alabama's offense without a first down until the two-minute mark of the first quarter and to just one first down in its first four possessions of the contest.
The Wolverines gained their best field position of the game with eight seconds remaining in the first quarter after a botched punt by the Crimson Tide. Taking over at the Alabama 42-yard line, Michigan had five straight negative plays (three on penalties) that forced a third-and-40 play from its own 33-yard line.
After the defensive stand the Crimson Tide offense scored the first points of the game on a five-yard run by senior running back Shaun Alexander. Alexander and quarterback Tyler Watts were the key players in seven-play (all rushing) scoring drive. Alexander carried five times for 54 yards on the drive, including a 32-yard scamper on the first play to move the ball into Michigan territory. Watts scrambled twice out the pocket, gaining 11 and 16 yards on the carries.
After forcing a Michigan punt, the Crimson Tide scored on its second straight drive as Alexander went over on a six-yard run. Alabama got great field position as Freddie Milons returned a punt 23 yards into Wolverine territory and was aided by a 15-yard late hit penalty after the return. Starting the drive at Michigan's 31-yard line, quarterback Zow found Tim Bowens for 22 yards on the first play to set up a first-and-goal at the nine-yard line. Alexander carried for three yards on first down and scored on second down.
Michigan trimmed the lead to 14-7 with 58 seconds left in the first half as Brady found Terrell on a 27-yard scoring strike. Michigan gained possession at the 44-yard line after an Alabama punt and five-yard fair catch interference penalty. Brady completed all five passing attempts on the drive for 44 yards, including two passes to sophomore wide receiver Marquise Walker (Syracuse, N.Y./Huguenot HS) and a three-yard pass to senior wide receiver DiAllo Johnson (Detroit, Mich./Orchard Lake St. Mary's HS). Brady completed 12-of-15 passes in the first half for 77 yards and one TD.
After holding Alabama on its first possession of the third quarter, Michigan took over at its 41-yard line and knotted the score at 14 apiece. The big play came on a third-down pass from Brady to Terrell that covered 57 yards.
The Crimson Tide responded to the Wolverines' score with back-to-back scoring drives that moved the lead to 28-14 with 8:29 remaining in the third quarter. Alexander scored on a 50-yard touchdown run for the first Crimson Tide score and Milons scored on a 62-yard punt return for a touchdown.
Michigan closed the gap to 28-21 with 5:42 remaining in the third quarter as Brady and Terrell connected on a 20-yard touchdown pass. Brady completed five passes to Terrell for 57 yards on the nine-play scoring drive that covered 75 yards
After holding Alabama on its next possession, Michigan tied the game at 28-28 as junior tailback Anthony Thomas (Winnfield, La./Winnfield HS) scored on a three-yard run. The 10-play scoring drive that covered 59 yards saw Thomas gain 15 yards on three carries, and Brady completed 4-of-7 passes for 44 yards.
Michigan came within inches of grabbing its first lead of the game early in the fourth quarter but Thomas was stripped heading into the end zone and Alabama recovered the ball. The Wolverines started the drive at their 40-yard line and marched down into scoring position. Brady hit redshirt freshman tight end Bennie Joppru (Wayzata, Minn./Minnetonka HS) for 24 yards on the first play of the drive and found Walker on a 28-yard catch that gave the Wolverines a first-and-goal at the two-yard line.
The Wolverines moved into scoring territory late in the contest and had a chance to win on the last play in regulation but Epstein had his 36-yard game-winning field attempt blocked by Alabama's Phillip Weeks. The drive started at Michigan's 31-yard line and moved down to the 18-yard line before Epstein's field goal attempt. Brady completed 4-of-5 passing attempts for 46 yards on the drive, including a 15-yarder to Knight and a 17-yarder to Thompson.
Michigan is scheduled to kick off the 2000 football season against Bowling Green State University on Sept. 2. This will be the first time in history the two programs will meet.
Contact: David Ablauf, Jim Schneider (734) 763-4423