There were countless player mistakes and bad coaching decisions and bad ref calls in this game (the Michigan kicker took 2 steps before the snap on the fake FG. How on EARTH is that not a false start?) But I think these three, had they gone the other way, would have transformed the game into a Hokie win. Actually I believe that if ANY of these three plays doesn't happen the way that it did, the Hokies would have won. They were that dominant.
1) 7:00 left in the 2nd quarter and the Hokies were already up 6-0 and had a 4th and a very long one yard from close to the 5 yd line. Going for it on this play instead of kicking the FG had incredibly enormous repercussions on the rest of the game and it was the wrong decision. I am not second-guessing, I said so at the time before the ball was snapped ("said" is the wrong word. I was foaming at the mouth, hopping around, hurling epithets and remote controls in every direction). I will elaborate more on why below and in the game review, but it was the wrong call to go for it, it failed and it set in motion an incredibly bizarre sequence of events that turned a 6-0 lead into a 10-6 deficit in the last 7 minutes of the half.
2) 7:30 remaining in the 4th quarter and the Hokies faced 4th and 1 at the Michigan 48 yd line in a 17-17 ballgame. In a move that will undoubtedly go down as his all-time worst in-game coaching decision, Coach Beamer proceeded to call a timeout, setting off the Michigan radar, and then called for a rugby punt/fake punt option play for Danny Coale. This was a real 4th and 1 and Beamer wanted to go for it badly for some insane reason. And don't think for a second that the Hokies' failure to get a yard and a half on 4th down in the 2nd quarter didn't shake Coach Beamer up and force him into this cockamamie move as opposed to lining up with Thomas on another sneak. (See? That first play was incredibly critical) Much less kicking the ball and pinning Michigan deep where they had no chance to score on a defense that was feasting on them.
3) It's been reviewed and said ad nauseum and so I hated putting this play in here but the facts are the facts. 3rd and 5 in the first overtime and Logan Thomas delivered a ball to the left side of the end zone. Danny Coale made a leaping, total sell-out catch that should have been the exclamation point on his remarkable career. The ref right there in the end zone agreed and called touchdown. The replay official overturned the call and said it wasn't a catch. Everyone has their own opinion on whether it was a catch or not. The only thing indisputable about the replay is that Danny Coale caught the ball in the air and landed on his left elbow IN BOUNDS. What happened after his elbow hit is up for debate so what I'll say is this - it is unthinkable to me that the replay booth could overturn the ref's call either way. Had it been ruled incomplete on the field, you'd have a hard time convincing me the replay is indisputable evidence that Coale controlled the ball all the way through enough to overturn the call on the field. Just the same, having ruled it a catch on the field, it's impossible for me to imagine the replay booth official's mindset in thinking he saw something in the replay that could convince him it wasn't a catch. Coale's elbow hits, the ball touches the ground with his hands on it and he appears to maintain control but there is nothing indisputable about any of the 10 angles the catch was filmed from. We've all seen replays where it's clear that the wrong call was made on the field and that's what replay is for. Having rewatched this particular play 100 times, I still can't figure out what the official in the booth saw that made him sure enough to overturn the call on the field. The view of the ref on the field is supposed to be the default call and if there's any doubt in the replay, the call needs to stand. The fact that it didn't opened up the booth official and the entire officiating crew to embarrassing scrutiny and conspiracy theories. Had the catch stood, I'd lay 20-1 odds that the Hokie defense would have kept the Wolverines out of the end zone to secure the win.