Instant analysis: Michigan 35, Minnesota 13
November, 3, 2012
By Chantel Jennings | ESPN.com
MINNEAPOLIS -- Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson was held out because of injury, but the Michigan football team was able to return to Ann Arbor on Saturday with the Little Brown Jug in tow, putting Minnesota away 35-13. Junior Devin Gardner started at quarterback for Michigan and led the Wolverines to their second road victory of the season.
It was over when: Michigan produced big stops in the red zone early in the fourth quarter, holding Minnesota to a field goal. At 21-10, the Michigan defense's stop kept the game as a two-possession Wolverines lead and pushed the game out of reach for a Minnesota offense that appeared spotty at best.
Game ball goes to: Gardner. The quarterback-turned-wide receiver managed to turn back into a quarterback fast enough on Saturday to lead Michigan to victory. Despite the fact that he hadn't taken a single snap at quarterback this season, Gardner threw for two touchdowns and completed 12 of 18 passes. He also ran for one touchdown and had a few good rushes, although the stats won't reflect that because the offensive line allowed three sacks.
Stat of the game: 74.9 percent. Through eight games this season (including missed time in the Nebraska and Illinois games), Robinson has accounted for 74.9 percent of the Wolverines' offense and 15 of the team's 25 touchdowns. By sitting Robinson for the game, Michigan had to turn elsewhere for that kind of production. And behind Gardner, as well as hard-nosed runs from Thomas Rawls and a few big catches from Jeremy Gallon and Drew Dileo, Michigan was able to do that.
What it means: Not all is lost when Robinson isn't on the field. After last weekend's performance against Nebraska -- in which the Wolverines failed to score after Robinson exited the game and backup quarterback Russell Bellomy threw as many interceptions as completions -- Michigan's quarterback situation behind No. 16 looked pretty bleak (and that might be putting it kindly). But with the exception of the first few drives, Gardner looked solid. Michigan has options behind Robinson and, dare anyone say it, competition for the starting spot.
Also, it means that Michigan (6-3, 4-1 Big Ten) stays in the hunt for the Legends Division title, although the Wolverines will need some help from Michigan State later Saturday when the Spartans take on Nebraska (6-2, 3-1). The Cornhuskers lead the Legends Division.
BIG TEN SCOREBOARD
12:00 PM ET South Florida 19 Wisconsin 12:00 PM ET Tulane Rutgers 12:00 PM ET Iowa Purdue 12:00 PM ET Wyoming 9 Michigan State 12:00 PM ET Northwestern Penn State 1:30 PM ET Maryland Indiana 3:30 PM ET Minnesota Michigan 6:00 PM ET Cincinnati 22 Ohio State 9:00 PM ET Illinois 21 Nebraska