Thursday, February 20, 2014
Top individual performances of '13: No. 4
By Brian Bennett
Take a walk down memory lane with us as we relive the 2013 season by highlighting the best individual performances by Big Ten players.
We've reached the final four of our list, which takes into account the difficulty of opponent and stakes of the game and tries to identify record-breaking, honor-winning, jaw-dropping games from league players. Players are limited to one entry on this list, for variety's sake.
This next performance grew in hindsight with some rather surprising news ...
Devin Gardner played hurt and played well against Ohio State. He threw four touchdown passes.
No. 4: Gardner guts it out vs. Ohio State
Who and against whom: Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner put up huge numbers in a 42-41 loss to Ohio State on Nov. 30. It was later reported that Gardner broke his left foot early in the second half.
The numbers: Gardner completed 32-of-45 passes for 451 yards and four touchdowns and also ran for a score.
A closer look: The Ohio State game wasn't Gardner's biggest statistical day of the season. That came against Indiana, when he nearly broke the Big Ten total offense record with 503 passing yards and 81 rushing yards.
But playing the Hoosiers is not quite the same as playing in The Game, and Gardner turned in a valiant effort against the heavily favored Buckeyes. The 451 passing yards were the most ever by a Wolverine against Ohio State and just the second 400-yard passing day by a Michigan quarterback.
Gardner wasn't perfect. He lost a fumble in the third quarter and, of course, his two-point conversion attempt with 32 seconds left was intercepted by Tyvis Powell. That meant Gardner's offseason prediction that Michigan would beat Ohio State proved incorrect. But CBSSports.com reported that Gardner broke bones in his left foot on the second drive of the third quarter; the fact that he continued to play through it and threw three fourth-quarter touchdown passes makes this performance worthy of a noteworthy spot on our list.