As the Michigan football team traveled home Saturday after beating Minnesota, Nebraska's crazy game with Michigan State was wrapping up.
With the Wolverines and Huskers tied atop the Big Ten Legends Division but NU holding the head-to-head tiebreaker, were there some maize-and-blue scoreboard watchers?
“I would be lying if I told you ... well, we were checking in, let's put it that way, on the way home,” Michigan coach Brady Hoke said Tuesday. “But we can't worry about that. We've got to worry about what we're doing.”
The Wolverines' hopes of chasing down Nebraska might come down to a quarterback-turned receiver who is back at quarterback.
Junior Devin Gardner made his first start at quarterback a successful one in the 35-13 win at Minnesota. The 6-foot-4, 203-pounder from Detroit threw for two touchdowns and ran for another against a top-30 defense.
Pretty good for a guy who had five days to get ready.
Contrary to what Hoke had been telling his beat writers through the season, Gardner hadn't worked at quarterback in practice for several weeks, offensive coordinator Al Borges confirmed.
Hoke also said last week that No. 1 quarterback Denard Robinson (elbow nerve) appeared ready to start against the Gophers. He didn't play at all.
Keep that in mind regardless of what Hoke says now about the health or playing status of Robinson.
Robinson hasn't played since re-injuring his arm late in the first half at Nebraska two weeks ago. He supposedly will split snaps with Gardner in practice this week ahead of Saturday's game against Northwestern.
When Robinson left the Nebraska game, the Wolverines trailed 7-3 and were at the NU 8-yard line. They settled for a field goal on that drive and added one more in the second half of a 23-9 loss as backup quarterback Russell Bellomy went 3 of 16 with three interceptions.
Hoke said he's not second-guessing himself for keeping Gardner — U of M's second-leading receiver with 16 catches — focused on catching passes through the season instead of throwing them.
“We did what we did (for the Nebraska game),” the coach said. “Made that decision, felt really good about Russell.”
That feeling is gone now. Bellomy is listed No. 3 on the depth chart, and has an injury that Hoke declined to discuss.
Gardner isn't as explosive a runner as Robinson, but he adds some versatility to the offense with his ability to roll out and scramble or throw on the run. Robinson, since throwing four interceptions against Notre Dame, has virtually been locked in the pocket when asked to throw.
When Robinson leaves after this season, Gardner has been assured that he'll return to quarterback.
“I'm just helping the team this year,” Gardner said. “If they need me at quarterback or at receiver, I'll be able to do it.”
The preparation for the Minnesota game rekindled Gardner's quarterback passion.
“Last week was probably the best I have prepared ever for anything,” he said. “There was a lot weighing on that game. The sixth win, the seniors having a guaranteed postseason — it felt like it was a lot I had to do.”
Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema knows who he is starting at quarterback Saturday at Indiana. So do his players and coaches.
But all have been sworn to silence whether junior Danny O'Brien or senior Curt Phillips has the job that Joel Stave relinquished after suffering a broken collarbone in the last game.
The secrecy comes from a situation Bielema encountered his first season.
His No. 1 quarterback got hurt, and no starter was named until game time. The opposing coaches indicated it cost them time and energy in practice to develop two defensive game plans.
“There is a competitive advantage (for the opponent) if you know who is going to start,” Bielema said.
O'Brien, a transfer from Maryland, started the first three games this season, then gave way to Stave. As for the fifth-year senior Phillips, he hasn't played since 2009 while recovering from three torn ACLs.
Quote of the week: Embattled fourth-year Purdue coach Danny Hope, when asked Tuesday about a Yahoo Sports report that the school already is looking for his successor: “That's news to me.”
Stat of the week I: If you wonder why Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase has missed all or parts of four games with injuries, consider that the Illini are 121st out of 124 schools in sacks allowed with 32.
Stat of the week II: Special teams have been anything but good for Penn State. The Nittany Lions are 94th in punt returns, 110th in field-goal kicking, 117th in kickoff returns and 119th in punting.
Bits and pieces
The road team is 16-15 in Big Ten games. ... Indiana has scored more points in nine games this season (298) than in 12 games last season (257). ... The Hoosiers lost their first fumble of the season last week. ... Injured Northwestern cornerbacks Nick VanHoose (shoulder) and Quinn Evans (leg) are expected to return Saturday. ... Ohio State linebacker Etienne Sabino (fractured leg) is “better than 50-50” to return for the Nov. 17 game at Wisconsin, coach Urban Meyer said. ... Wisconsin's defense is third nationally in forcing three-and-outs (43.9 percent), trailing only Florida State and Alabama.
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