Michigan scored touchdowns on its first six drives and Devin Gardner had a career day as Michigan routed an Iowa team that had beaten it the past three seasons. Denard Robinson played his last game ever in the Big House, and boy was it a good one.
With his elbow injury still inhibiting his ability to throw Denard took the field as a running back. Most assumed it was just to let the senior get on the field one last time, but Al Borges had other ideas. In a glimpse of what he might be in the NFL, Denard played a little running back, wide receiver and quarterback, though he did not attempt any passes. He even managed to break a couple of his trademark runs; one came on a reception which he turned back and ran the entire width of the field en route to a big gain. While it was great to see Denard be Denard again it wasn’t all fun and games as Fitz Toussaint had to be carted off the field with a broken leg. We wish him a speedy recovery and hope he can be back to 100 percent come next spring.
Much like Ohio State has been the Braxton Miller show all year, this game was the Devin Gardner show as he accounted for all six Wolverine scores: three in the air and three on the ground. And while the Iowa defense isn’t anything to be feared, Gardner did what any good quarterback should do against a poor defense: torch it. Devin went 18-of-23 for a career high 314 yards passing and added 37 more yards on the ground to go along with the aforementioned six touchdowns.
The game appeared as though it might be a battle at first as Iowa moved within four points with nine minutes to go in the second quarter. But Michigan had other ideas and rattled off 28 unanswered after that and closed out the Hawkeyes in convincing fashion.
After Michigan scored to go up 7-0, Iowa mounted a 75-yard drive on the legs of Mark Weisman and it looked like Iowa was going to run all over Michigan. The Wolverines answered, scoring on a 37-yard pass to Roundtree, who has quite the chemistry with Gardner. Iowa added a field goal on its next possession to cut the lead to 14-10, but that would be as close as they got. Gardner ran in a score, then hit Vincent Smith on a great screen play to put Michigan up 28-10 at the half. The only mistake – if you want to call it that – that Michigan made all day was a Gardner pick in the fourth quarter.
It is yet to be determined whether Denard will resume his duties as quarterback next week against the Buckeyes. If I had to guess I’d say that Hoke and Borges will keep Gardner as the starter and continue to use Denard as a receiver/running back. Denard is the heart and soul of this team but there is no denying they are a much better offensive team with Gardner at the helm. Not to take anything away from what Denard means but Gardner is the better passer, plain and simple. That said, Denard is too deadly of an athlete and leader to keep off the field. The freak nerve injury to his elbow may be just what Michigan needs to get past the surging Buckeyes who are still chock full of elite talent, while Michigan is still rebuilding from its failed RichRod experiment. At the very least, we’ve seen a glimpse of what this offense will look like next season with Gardner as the full time starter. I am in no way saying this should have been the set up all year, but now that we’ve seen it I have to say I like it a lot.
Michigan travels to Columbus to take on the undefeated Buckeyes in what is essentially OSU’s bowl game. Before the season I predicted a Michigan loss, but with Devin Gardner under center and Denard Robinson being utilized in other ways I may just change my mind. I will save my prediction for our weekly staff picks later this week.