The last thing anybody at Sun Life Stadium was expecting after three quarters was for Saturday’s game to come down to Michael Badgley’s right foot.
Well, maybe everybody except Badgley.
The Hurricanes sophomore kicker matched a school-record with five field goals in UM’s 36-33 overtime win over the Cornhuskers — including the game-winning 28-yarder. According to quarterback Brad Kaaya, that’s exactly what Badgley predicted a year ago.
“Freshman year, a month or two after I met him, we always talked about it, he said ‘One day I’m going to make a game-winning kick against Nebraska,” Kaaya said after the Hurricanes blew a 23-point lead in the fourth quarter and survived. “He wanted to do it last year, but that didn’t happen. It came true though. It manifested.”
Badgley, nicknamed Jersey Mike by coach Al Golden, took over UM’s kicking duties last year when Matt Goudis was lost to a season-ending back injury. Badgley’s first field goal, ironically, came at Nebraska, a 34-yard fourth-quarter kick that kept UM in the game. The Hurricanes eventually lost 41-31.
Saturday, all five of Badgley’s field goals served as gold for the Hurricanes, who ended up needing every single one of them to hold off Nebraska’s furious comeback.
Badgley, who shaved three stripes into the side of his head (for Adidas) and grew a mullet when football camp started, often gets ridiculed by Golden for his haircut. It was no different, even after Badgley saved the Hurricanes on Saturday.
“He’s got bad hair, but he works his [butt] off,” Golden said. “He’s tough. I can see him being focused at the end, he’s just going to strike it. The ball has been jumping for him lately, he’s been really working hard.
“[Sunday] is a day we talk about not getting touchdowns in the red zone. [Saturday] we celebrate what we did in the end zone, and that’s obviously what Badgley did.”
Badgley’s field goals came from 23, 27, 41, 28, and finally another 28-yard shot in OT. He tied Jon Peattie, who made five field goals in a 22-20 win vs. West Virginia on Oct. 2, 2003, for the school record for most field goals in a game.
Was he nervous as he lined up to kick the game-winner? What was he aiming at?
“To be honest I was aiming at the middle of the U,” Badgley said. “There’s a white line between the U and I was hitting that. That’s what I was going for.
“I believe I was calm. The whole operation was calm from [snapper] Frank Gabriel to [holder Justin] Vogel to the offensive line. They knew this was a big play. They came out there and did well.”
For the season, Badgley is now 9 of 10 on field goals. His only miss came from 27 yards. He’s now 23 of 28 in his career including a perfect 7 of 7 from 40 to 49 yards.
“To me, I kind of feel they’re all the same kicks,” Badgley said when asked if he was more nervous because it was a short kick, something he couldn’t mess up because it was so easy. “I’m just trying to put it through. But I know where you’re coming from. Honestly every kicker wants to hit the bomb, but I’ll take whatever it was.”
So will his teammates, who imploded Saturday and survived.
“Michael Badgley is a great kid, great kicker under pressure,” linebacker Raphael Kirby said. “When it went through I was just thrilled.”
Said Kaaya: “I’m really proud. The whole team is happy for him.”