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The Bearded, 241-pound, Game-Winning Placekicker

With the game tied at 20 in overtime of last night’s Sugar Bowl, Michigan’s 241-pound placekicker lumbered onto the field with the swagger of Denis Lemieux and the biker ’stache of Goose Gossage: decidedly un-kicker-like.

That is, until he drilled a 37-yard field goal dead center through the uprights to win the game.

This was likely Brendan Gibbons’s second greatest moment on the football field. The first came back in high school, when he kicked an 80-yard punt before saving a touchdown by nearly decapitating the returner.

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Gibbons reminds us of that beloved, extinct ’70s-era football player: the heft. The ill-fitting uniform. The chinstrap beard which, when chin-strapped, reveals a grizzled horseshoe mustache. An apparent plumber turned sports hero. And, of course, a Cinderella-esque story:

After only making one field goal last season, Gibbons was nearly booed out of Ann Arbor. “I had no idea what it was like to kick in front of 110,000 people,” he recalls. This year he finished 13-17 including a perfect 3 for 3 in last night’s big game.

The success he attributes to a psychological adjustment: “Every time we struggle kicking, Coach tells me to think about girls on a beach, brunette girls. So that’s what I did. And I made the kick.”

If everything could be that simple...