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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- Is Michigan the Big Ten’s best? (espn.go.com)
- Shoelace gone, Michigan turns to Gardner at QB (timesleader.com)
- Ohio State heavy favorite in Big Ten (timesleader.com)
- Can the Michigan Wolverines be a national title contender? (thesportsbank.net)