Anybody who watched the four-letter network all summer long may have been brainwashed into believing that Ohio State had a clear path to the Big Ten title, and a likely trip to Pasadena to face Alabama in the BCS Championship game. But after the dismantling of a highly ranked Notre Dame team this past Saturday night, Michigan has solidified themselves as a legitimate threat to challenge Ohio State for the Big Ten crown.
Without the duel threat of Denard Robinson returning to keep opposing defenses on their toes, the identity of this new Michigan team has been in question. Not anymore. Junior quarterback Devin Gardner has thus far proven worthy of filling the (untied) shoes that Robinson left behind in Ann Arbor. In the first two games of this 2013 season, Gardner has gone 31-48 with 456 yards, 5 TDs and 3 INTs. In addition, Gardner has shown glimpses of Denard Robinson-like movement while rushing the ball 18 times for 144 yards in his first two games as a starter.
Michigan, now ranked eleventh in the AP Poll, will have plenty of tests before facing off with Big Ten favorite, and fourth ranked Ohio State. With no immediate threats until November, the Wolverines should be hitting their stride before entering the gauntlet of the Big Ten’s best. A trip to Michigan State on November 2nd will only be a warmup before facing (what should be) back-to-back ranked teams with Nebraska at home and then traveling to face Northwestern the following week. All this is only a prelude to what is shaping up to be another epic showdown when the Michigan fans (do not) welcome Ohio State into Ann Arbor.
So while only a few short weeks ago, many had penciled in Ohio State as a shoe-in for the Big Ten Title, the team that Buckeye fans least want to keep them from their crown has indeed emerged as its biggest threat. The rivalry game set for November 30th at Michigan between the Wolverines and the Buckeyes will be extra sweet or extra sour for fans of either team in 2013. And college football as a whole can consider themselves winners because of it.
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No. 17 ranked Michigan went head to head with Notre Dame last Saturday and handled he Irish with relative ease in the Big House of Ann Arbor, taking care of business in a 41-30 victory. But what everyone is wondering is can Wolverines head coach Brady Hoke lead Michigan to a Big 10 championship and beyond this season? Or will Ohio State triumph in a conference run by the two fierce rivals who clash every November? Ohio State played a lesser opponent and won by a score over San Diego State of 42-7. Not a ground-breaking win and the Buckeyes have too much talent for it to be a convincing win because it shouldn’t take much for Urban Meyer’s team to take care of the Aztecs. But many expect the conference to come down to Michigan and Ohio State going at it in the Big 10 championship game. Some would argue that Wisconsin, the defending conference champions, should have a chance to take down either of these juggernauts, but there’s no evidence of this, as the Badgers lost its head coach and star running back from last season. Yes, Wisconsin won 48-0 over Tennessee Tech, but thus far they’ve beaten the Golden Eagles, and UMass, so there’s no way to tell what kind of team new head coach Gary Andersen has to work with this year. The coach from Utah State is in his first year in a BCS conference, so perhaps based on his track record he can have as much success as his predecessor Bret Bielema. Either way, here’s Andersen’s bio for your own viewing pleasure: http://www.uwbadgers.com/sports/m-footbl/mtt/gary_andersen_833232.html. But the ultimate question remains: will it be the classic duo of Michigan and Ohio State duking it out in November, then mopping the floor with a team from the other division in the championship game? Or will someone step up and surprise us? Only time will tell, but betting men should bet on the Wolverines and Buckeyes in the end. Speaking of betting, here are the odds from Vegas on these two teams chances of winning the conference: Michigan: http://www.gambling911.com/sports-handicapping/michigan-football-betting-%E2%80%93-wolverines-odds-win-2013-big-10-bcs-championship-082
Ohio State: http://www.gambling911.com/sports-handicapping/ohio-state-football-betting-%E2%80%93-buckeyes-odds-win-2013-big-10-bcs-championship-082