Originally posted on Fox Sports Ohio  |  Last updated 11/20/12
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) - Devin Gardner has flourished in three straight starts at quarterback for Michigan. Denard Robinson is healthy enough to play, but can't seem to do more than lightly lob a short pass. So, is there any chance Robinson will go back to being the team's QB on Saturday at Ohio State? "I guess he could," Wolverines coach Brady Hoke said with a straight face. "I don't know. It's an option." Yeah, right. Let The Game - and the gamesmanship - begin. Even if it's obvious, Hoke must think acknowledging the fact that Gardner will stay at QB while Robinson lines up as a running back or receiver would give the rival Buckeyes a bit of information to help them prepare for Saturday's game. No. 4 Ohio State (11-0, 7-0 Big Ten) will host the 20th-ranked Wolverines (8-3, 6-1) in its finale with a shot to win the Associated Press national title. The Buckeyes, though, can't play for the conference championship because they're ineligible to play in the postseason as part of the sanctions stemming from a memorabilia-for-cash scandal under ex-coach Jim Tressel. After Ohio State beat Wisconsin 21-14 in overtime last Saturday to seal the Leaders Division title, coach Urban Meyer said they're not the program's rival. "The next one is," Meyer said. "So when we use that 'R' word, we're talking about this week." When Hoke talks about the Buckeyes this week, he won't say Ohio State once - dropping the second word in the school's name in what he insists is not intended to insult the storied program he grew up rooting against despite growing up near Dayton, Ohio. "There's a lot of respect on both sides for both programs," he said after a 42-17 win over Iowa. Hoke will lead college football's winningest program in a game at the Horseshoe for the first time against Meyer, who hasn't been a head coach in what is referred to as The Game. "It's going to be fun," Hoke said. Indeed. And, it'll be interesting - or fun - to see how Michigan offensive coordinator Al Borges uses Gardner and Robinson after playing both extensively against the Hawkeyes. Hoke said the coaching staff has been discussing ways to use them both on the field for 18 months - since he replaced fired coach Rich Rodriguez - and talk turned to action when Robinson was cleared to play after missing two-plus games with nerve damage in his right elbow. "After the Northwestern game that night, (Borges) had nine plays ready and then we put six more in," Hoke said. Gardner gave Robinson the ball on a toss sweep to the right on Michigan's first play and threw it to him to the left on the next snap. Robinson also got a handoff and made an option pitch to Fitzgerald Toussaint, whose left leg appeared to break on the unique play, and Robinson was just a decoy on another play in which Gardner threw one of his three touchdown passes. Gardner knew the Wolverines would make crafty plays work against Iowa because they did against their own defense even when teammates thought they knew what was coming. "I felt like if they knew from one practice to the next that it was coming and still couldn't stop it, then the other team would definitely not be able to stop it," Gardner said. Robinson took some snaps at QB, but didn't throw once against the Hawkeyes. Can he pass? "Yes, but not as well as he'd like to," Hoke said. That, once again, might just be another thing Michigan is going to let Robinson do against the Buckeyes, who might not expect him to attempt passes downfield. Ohio State linebacker Zach Boren probably understands The Game and the gamesmanship that goes along with it as well as anyone on the field Saturday. His dad, Mike, played for Michigan and so did his brother, Justin, before famously - or infamously - transferring to Ohio State and taking a shot at the then Rodriguez-led Wolverines by saying family values had eroded within the program. "That's the biggest rivalry in sports," Zach Boren said. "Now we can turn our attention to them. We'll be ready. This team keeps on getting better and better each week." Boren and the Buckeyes will be looking for revenge after Michigan finally snapped a seven-game losing streak in the series last season. The Wolverines won 40-34, with Robinson throwing for 167 yards and three touchdowns and running for 170 yards and two more scores. Braxton Miller didn't exactly struggle for Ohio State, throwing for 235 yards and running for 100 while totaling three TDs. Michigan has still lost five straight in Columbus, and it may have a spot in the Big Ten title game as a reward if it can end that drought. The Wolverines will know Friday if that's the case, since they need Nebraska to lose at struggling Iowa. Either way, this matchup is more than enough incentive on its own. "I think this is just a pure, intense rivalry," Meyer said. "It doesn't matter who's undefeated, who's fighting for what, who's playing for what."
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Sanu: Halftime show played role in Super Bowl collapse

James Dolan is among potential group of investors of new arena for New York Islanders

Report: Rams, Clippers discussing NBA venue in Inglewood

Terrence Jones reportedly interested in joining Celtics

LeBron reverses course, says he ‘always felt good’ about Cavs

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Ole Miss tried to implicate Mississippi State in football scandal

Jamaal Charles could be on the roster bubble

Jimmy Butler on state of Bulls: ‘I just want to win at all costs’

Report: Giants will be ‘aggressive’ in trying to sign Jason Pierre-Paul

Report: Porzingis avoided ligament damage in ankle

Brooks Koepka meltdown includes whiff, stomping head off driver

Top 10 shortstops in baseball for 2017

The most dangerous NBA teams flying under the radar

Eat, Drink, Watch: Your award-worthy weekend planning guide

Grading the NBA trade deadline on the Vince Carter scale

Box Score 2/24: A night of NBA disrespect

As NHL trade deadline nears, seven teams who could be dealing

The 'Pete Rose instead of Kareem? Surely, you can't be serious' quiz

Streaming sports docuseries you don't want to miss

Teams that can prevent a Cavs-Warriors NBA Finals three-peat

The NFL off-season is a passer’s fancy

The Aesthetic: Pushing the boundaries of the three-pointer

NBA coaches who should be fired soon

College Football News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Top 10 shortstops in baseball for 2017

The most dangerous NBA teams flying under the radar

Eat, Drink, Watch: Your award-worthy weekend planning guide

Grading the NBA trade deadline on the Vince Carter scale

Streaming sports docuseries you don't want to miss

As NHL trade deadline nears, seven teams who could be dealing

The 'Pete Rose instead of Kareem? Surely, you can't be serious' quiz

Teams that can prevent a Cavs-Warriors NBA Finals three-peat

The NFL off-season is a passer’s fancy

QUIZ: Name every MLB pitcher who has recorded 10 or more shutouts in a single season

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker