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Michigan barely survives Rutgers in triple OT

The one thing you can’t do as a member of the Big Ten East is lose to Rutgers. The Jim Harbaugh Era just avoided its lowest nadir yet.

Head coach Jim Harbaugh looks on while playing the Wisconsin Badgers at Michigan Stadium on November 14, 2020 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The recent lows of the Michigan Wolverines almost hit a new bottom, but after three overtimes Jim Harbaugh and his team are heading home 48-42 winners over the Rutgers Scarlet Knights on Saturday night in Piscataway, NJ.

Rutgers (1-4 Big Ten) trailed 35-27 with 5:07 remaining, but the Scarlet Knights began a 16-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that took 4:40 off the clock, capped by a throw from RU quarterback Noah Vedral to Aron Cruickshank on fourth down. The two-point play was an unexpected quarterback draw from Vedral, and gave Michigan just 27 seconds to tie the game.

Michigan (2-3 Big Ten) lost the coin toss before overtime, and ended up kicking a field goal instead of going for it on 4th and 1 from the 16-yard line. But kicker Quinn Nordin missed his third-straight field goal attempt of the game as he pushed it right from 35 yards.

From there all Rutgers had to do was get at least a field goal, but they blew it as well: Kicker Valentino Ambrosio had the ball centered for him on third down so he could drill it from right between the hash marks, but yanked his attempt left from 45 yards,

In the third overtime, new Michigan quarterback Cade McNamara led another touchdown drive to keep Michigan alive with a 48-42 lead, but the Wolverines weren’t able to make the now-required two-point conversion. But it didn’t matter as on the ensuing possession a throw from Vedral into double coverage in the end zone on fourth down sealed the Scarlet Knights fate.

McNamara finished the game 27-36 for 260 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions to salvage the game. He replaced Joe Milton, who was 5-12 for 89 yards before being benched. It looks like Block M will have a new quarterback against Penn State next Saturday.

Michigan was an 11.5 point favorite at DraftKings Sportsbook.