NCAA Football

Oregon vs. Utah: Live Blog and Highlights

Oregon 14, Utah 7 -- Mid 2nd Quarter A big Pac-12 clash takes place Saturday night, as the No. 4 Oregon Ducks travel to Salt Lake City to take on the upstart No. 17 Utah Utes...

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Texas A&M vs. Auburn: Game Grades, Analysis for Aggies and Tigers

In a wild contest, the Texas A&M Aggies upset the No. 3 Auburn Tigers by a score of 41-38. It was the first time home loss for Auburn since 2012. 

True freshman signal-caller Kyle Allen was spectacular for the Aggies. He finished the contest 19-of-29 for 277 yards and four touchdowns. He was superlative in terms of his poise and awareness in the pocket. 

Self-inflicted wounds—both in terms of penalties and turnovers—killed Auburn. From an offensive standpoint, it also appeared as if Gus Malzahn's team never fully revved up his high-octane offense to its full potential. 

A full box score can be found here, courtesy of Check out first-half grades and final grades for both the Aggies and Tigers. Additional analysis for position units will also be addressed. 

Texas A&M Aggies Analysis

Passing Offense

Allen was incredibly effective in his first road start in SEC play. The Arizona native threw for 277 yards and four touchdowns. His accuracy on intermediate routes was very good. Outside of one poor throw in coverage—which resulted in an interception—he was flawless.

More than anything, he displayed tremendous poise and moxie for an 18-year-old. His future is bright. 


Pass Defense

Nick Marshall had a very efficient afternoon. Texas A&M did a nice job in the first half of keeping the Auburn wide receivers from getting behind the secondary. The injury to Duke Williams helped A&M's cause considerably. 

Two big passing plays to Ricardo Louis (39 yards) and Sammie Coates (52 yards) lowered the passing defense grade. A 31-yard touchdown to a wide-open Quan Bray also contributed to the overall grade. 


Rushing Offense

The Aggies put up a respectable 176 yards on the ground on only 35 carries. The offensive line was dominant at times, opening up gaping lanes for the Texas A&M running backs to run through. This ability on the ground was significant from the standpoint that it gave the Aggies balance on offense. 

In terms of protecting Allen, the freshman signal-caller was sacked only once. It was a great day up front for the offensive line. 


Run Defense

The unit gave up 364 yards. Normally, this would equate to an "F" for any defensive unit. However, the Aggies did get stops when they needed to. They also made multiple tackles-for-loss—namely in the first half when Marshall attempted zone-read plays. 

Of the three Auburn fumbles, two were opportunistically collected by defensive end Julien Obioha.


Special Teams

The field-goal block and return for a touchdown was a huge momentum shift. Instead of A&M going into halftime up eight, the return made it a 17-point game. Josh Lambo connected on two of his three field-goal attempts. The miss prevented A&M from receiving an "A" grade. 



Credit Kevin Sumlin and his staff for getting his team ready to play. In the previous week, A&M struggled to defeat Louisiana-Monroe. As a 23.5-point underdog coming into this game, not many people gave his team a chance to remain competitive. 

In a word, the team battled all afternoon. He did a great job of getting Kyle Allen off to a great start early with quick, manageable throws. 

Defensively, the line got after Marshall at times with pressure. There were also some things to clean up from a schematic standpoint. However, this team made up of mostly freshmen and sophomores got an "A" for going on the road and getting a win versus one of the best teams in the country. 

Auburn Tigers Analysis

Passing Offense

The loss of Williams hindered Marshall's efforts to deliver the ball with more frequency. Williams is easily the most productive and consistent receiver on the team. However, Marshall was able to find three of his receivers down the field for big gains. 

On the night, Marshall went 15-of-21 for 219 yards and two touchdowns. 


Pass Defense

What an abysmal effort by the secondary. Allen carved up the defense repeatedly in the first half with intermediate throws over the heart of the field. Giving up four touchdowns to a freshman quarterback isn't great by any stretch of the imagination. 

Jermaine Whitehead did salvage some pride—as he read Allen's eyes and made a nice play on the ball for an interception. 


Rushing Offense

You can't fault Auburn's effort running the football. It piled up an eye-popping 364 yards and four touchdowns on 59 carries. Cameron Artis-Payne ran for a career-high 221 yards on 30 carries. He rushed with authority and virtually carried the offense in the first half.

However, an Artis-Payne fumble in the first quarter led to an A&M touchdown. The fumbled exchange on the zone read with Artis-Payne and Marshall at the Aggies 3-yard line with less than two minutes remaining was a monumental blow. It effectively lost the game for Auburn.  


Run Defense

There was a glaring absence of pressure on Allen. Auburn's front seven never made life difficult for the freshman signal-caller. In terms of stopping the run, the defensive line was blown off the ball consistently up front by the makeshift Texas A&M offensive front. 

The Aggies ran to the tune of 5.0 yards per carry. In total, the unit relinquished 176 yards on the ground. 


Special Teams

The blocked field-goal attempt at the end of the half was crippling. Not only did it result in a touchdown, but Texas A&M regained all of the momentum with the single play. 

Kicker Daniel Carlson connected on one of his two field-goal attempts. The miss ultimately was the difference in the contest. 



Coaching lost the game for Auburn. 

Defensively, the secondary played as if it had never seen a slant before. A&M killed Auburn with crossing routes over the middle of the field. Conventional wisdom would suggest blitzing a freshman quarterback on the road early and often.

However, Auburn rarely brought pressure. This allowed Allen to sit in the pocket comfortably and get into a rhythm early. 

The offense also had some curious calls in the first half. Marshall rarely used his legs, and Auburn never seemed to push the tempo to its capabilities. It's a facet of the Tigers' game that makes them so hard to beat. 

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Unlucky 4th-Quarter Fumbles Likely Cost Auburn Tigers Shot at Playoff

Auburn had multiple opportunities late in its game against Texas A&M, but the Tigers let them all slip away. Two costly fumbles led to a huge loss and likely eliminated Auburn from the College Football Playoff. 

Bleacher Report college football analyst Michael Felder talks about the two plays that shook up the CFP.

Do you think Auburn can still make it to the CFP?

Watch the video let us know!

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Biggest Win in Program History Makes Arizona State True Playoff Contender

It's time to start taking Arizona State seriously.

We are past the point where its legitimacy can be denied.

The Sun Devils entered Week 11 ranked No. 9 in the College Football Playoff standings, but it never truly felt like they belonged at the grownup table—i.e., the discussion to make the national semifinal. But the way in which they beat No. 10 Notre Dame, a team that nearly beat No. 2 Florida State in Tallahassee, was not something a team at the kids table could have accomplished.

It was also their first win over a Top 10 team since 2002:

The Sun Devils forced five turnovers in the 55-31 victory, although a cynic might claim they were "given" more than "forced." Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson played poorly—no doubt—but ASU had seven sacks and wreaked havoc at every level.

It also engineered just enough offense to leave a positive impression on that side of the ball. The point total is obviously misleading (Notre Dame actually outgained ASU 487-412), but quarterback Taylor Kelly looked more comfortable in his third game back from a foot injury than he did in his previous two, completing 17 of 28 passes for 224 yards and scoring four total touchdowns.

"Nobody flinched," said Kelly of the mood when Notre Dame pulled within one score, 34-31, per Doug Haller of AZCentral Sports.

It's easy not to flinch when your quarterback's a redshirt senior.

Which isn't to say that things were perfect.

They weren't.

Arizona State didn't bury Notre Dame the way it should have, allowing the Irish to clamber back into the game. The defense was energetic and opportunistic, but too often it was also disorganized.

This, for example, was the coverage Notre Dame exploited to pull within three points midway through the fourth quarter:

The Jekyll-and-Hydeness of Arizona State is what makes it so difficult to count on. But it's also what makes it so fun.

And it might be what makes it so good.

The Sun Devils have survived the first 11 weeks with just one loss on their resume, which is all that matters moving forward. We know how low their basement is—does UCLA 62, Arizona State 27 ring a bell?—but we also know the height of their ceiling.

When they're playing as well as they played in the first half Saturday, they can hang with (and beat) just about anybody.

How many other teams can that be said about?

The only games left on ASU's schedule are at Oregon State (in a pretty glaring letdown spot) next week, home against Washington State and at No. 19 Arizona. That is not a waltz to an 11-1 season and Pac-12 South title, but neither is it exceptionally tough. On a subjective scale from 1-10, I would probably give it a six.

From there, all Arizona State would need is a win in the Pac-12 Championship Game, ostensibly over Oregon, to crash the CFP. Would it be favored in that game? No. And rightfully not. Oregon is the better, more consistent team. It has been that way all season.

But for 60 minutes? We've seen what Arizona State can do.

The Sun Devils needed a Hail Mary to beat USC earlier this season, a fluky result that has colored most peoples' perception of their playoff viability (this author included). But you know who else needed a Hail Mary to finish with one loss? The 2013 Auburn Tigers.

And that team came within 13 seconds of winning it all.

Arizona State head coach Todd Graham was a mentor to Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn, hiring Malzahn to run his offense at Tulsa in 2007 and 2008. His current offensive coordinator, Mike Norvell, is a Malzahn-esque evil genius who rarely gets out-schemed.

With athletes such as running back D.J. Foster and receiver Jaelen Strong playing at an All-Pac-12 level (if not better), Graham and Norvell have the weapons to parlay that scheme into success. They also have the quarterback, assuming Kelly reverts to last year's form.

Arizona State finishing 12-1, winning the Pac-12 and landing in the playoff sounds ludicrous on paper, but is it any more ludicrous than the run Auburn made last season? ASU entered the week No. 9 in the CFP standings, after all. That's precisely where Auburn entered Week 11 in the BCS standings last year.

This might not be the end of the similarities.


Follow Brian Leigh on Twitter: @BLeighDAT

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Biggest Win in Program History Makes Arizona State True Playoff Contender

It's time to start taking Arizona State seriously. We are past the point where its legitimacy can be denied. The Sun Devils entered Week 11 ranked No...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

Auburn vs. Texas A&M: Don't Call It Bad Luck, Tigers Beat Themselves

For the next few days, you're going to hear plenty of discussion about Auburn's luck running out and karma finally coming back to the Tigers after nearly two years of close wins.

Don't fall into that trap.

There was no luck or karma involved in Texas A&M's 41-38 win over Auburn on Saturday afternoon at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Auburn simply got beat.

Beat by the Aggies and, perhaps more importantly, by itself.

The most obvious self-inflicted wound came with 54 seconds left at A&M's 27-yard line, when center Reese Dismukes prematurely snapped the ball to quarterback Nick Marshall—who was checking at the line of the scrimmage at the time. It will, undoubtedly, be the play that becomes known as the one that sealed the upset.

This game was lost way before that.

Auburn's defense let this game get way out of hand early due to its inability to pressure true freshman quarterback Kyle Allen and, most importantly, to tackle.

Allen wasn't sacked in the first half and only once for the entire game. The absence of a pass rush wasn't a new phenomenon for defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson's crew. They came in 10th in the SEC with 16 sacks—four of which were last week against an Ole Miss offensive line that was without star tackle Laremy Tunsil.

The bigger issue, though, was Auburn's glaring inability to tackle, as linebackers and defensive backs routinely took horrible angles to ball carriers in the first half—which closed with the Aggies up, 35-17.

As the assembled members of the media covering the game pointed out, the absence of fundamentals was a theme for the entire afternoon.

This game wasn't lost on November 8. It was lost in mid-August and late March, when the Tigers were supposed to be working on fundamentals in a camp setting. If you can't tackle in early November, your window has closed.

In retrospect, this was something that was bound to happen.

Auburn's tackling was atrocious last week in the 35-31 win over Ole Miss in Oxford, too. According to Ryan Black of the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, linebacker Kris Frost specifically mentioned that the tackling had to improve from last week.

“We missed a few tackles that were unacceptable," Forst said. "But it's basically all about getting back to the basics and really focusing on what we have to do to improve.”

They didn't.

The missed tackles were precursors to Auburn uncharacteristically beating itself. More specifically, its best players, who have time and time again come up big in clutch spots, let Auburn down.

Marshall and running back Cameron Artis-Payne—both of whom were on the periphery of the Heisman Trophy race—fumbled an exchange on a zone-read play from the Aggie 2-yard line. The next drive, with Auburn on the edge of field-goal range, Dismukes—a preseason first-team All-SEC selection—snapped the ball early to end the game.

Its three offensive stars cost Auburn the game in the end, despite Artis-Payne rushing for 221 yards and two touchdowns and Marshall accounting for 286 yards and three scores (two rush, one pass).

They shouldn't have been in this game to begin with, and the mere fact that Artis-Payne, Marshall and Dismukes were in position to toss the game away late is a compliment to what they did to keep Auburn in the game in the first place.

Auburn's defense—the punchline to a bad joke for going on two years—cost Auburn the game. It wasn't luck, karma or magic.

It was time.


Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and video analyst for Bleacher Report as well as a co-host of the CFB Hangover on Bleacher Report Radio (Sundays, 9-11 a.m. ET) on Sirius 93, XM 208.

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats are courtesy of, and all recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

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Was the Playoff Committee Right About Notre Dame All Along?

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish lost a heartbreaker to the Arizona State Sun Devils, 55-31. With the loss, the Irish are all but certain of falling from College Football Playoff contention.

Bleacher Report College Football Analysts Barrett Sallee and Michael Felder break down why the Irish will be on the outside looking in. 

Are Notre Dame's national title hopes gone?

Watch the video and let us know!

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West Virginia vs. Texas: Game Grades, Analysis for Mountaineers and Longhorns

This was the kind of performance that Texas head coach Charlie Strong has been searching for all season. The Longhorns played very well defensively, holding West Virginia to just 16 points and running the ball at ease at times in the 33-16 win.

The Texas offensive line deserves most of the recognition in this win, as the Longhorns rushed for 227 total yards. Johnathan Gray had 101 yards rushing and three touchdowns, and Malcolm Brown added 90 yards.

West Virginia attempted to make a comeback in the second half after trailing 24-3 at halftime, but ultimately the mistakes were too much to overcome. The Mountaineers turned it over twice and also took a safety on a sack of quarterback Clint Trickett.

The Longhorns move to 5-5 on the season, and they will look to become bowl-eligible with a sixth win next week versus Oklahoma State. West Virginia must recover from this loss quickly, as it faces Kansas State after an off week.

You can find the box score for the game here, courtesy of


Game Grades and Analysis for the West Virginia Mountaineers

Passing Offense

It wasn't the best day for West Virginia, who only had 141 total yards at halftime. Trickett finished 36-of-49 passing with 248 yards, but he failed to find the end zone. The passing offense gets an average grade because Trickett averaged only 5.1 yards per passing attempt and threw an interception.


Rushing Offense

The run game gets a B-minus because of the struggles early on. The Mountaineers had only 42 yards in the first half, but they ended with 200 yards on the ground. Dreamius Smith broke off a 62-yard run, and he ended the day with 100 yards on 10 carries.


Pass Defense

The numbers weren't there for Texas quarterback Tyrone Swoopes, and that can be attributed to West Virginia's adjustments at halftime. The Longhorns weren't able to run the ball as effectively in the second half, and the West Virginia secondary made plays as a result. 

Swoopes averaged only 4.3 yards per attempt, and West Virginia forced him into an interception.


Run Defense

It was a tale of two halves for the West Virginia run defense. Texas ran the ball all over the Mountaineers in the first half, totaling 178 yards at the intermission, but was held to just 49 yards rushing in the final two quarters.

The Mountaineers forced Texas into passing situations on third down, and that helped them come away with some big stops.


Special Teams

The Mountaineers weren't able to get points on the board a couple of times, as Josh Lambert went 1-of-3 on his field goals. Punter Nick O'Toole punted four times, but he failed to pin any of them inside the 20-yard line.



The coaching did a better job in the second half after making adjustments, but the first half was not pretty. The play-calling did not allow the offense to establish any kind of rhythm in the first half, as the Mountaineers failed to take many shots down the field.

The safety in the second half was a direct result of play-calling, so I blame coaching there also. With the ball on the 2-yard line, West Virginia should have got some breathing room with a run or called a short pass. Instead, Trickett dropped back three steps and was sacked before he had a chance to go through his progressions.


Game Grades and Analysis for the Texas Longhorns

Passing Offense

As good as Texas looked Saturday, Swoopes did not have his best day. He finished with just 124 yards passing and only averaged 4.3 yards per attempt. Late in the game, he made poor decisions, including one interception.


Rushing Offense

The Texas offense earned a great grade in the first half, but the second half wasn't as impressive. The Longhorns totaled 178 yards before halftime, and the offensive line made holes large enough for a monster truck to drive through.

The grade is a B-minus because of the way West Virginia's adjustments affected Texas in the second half. Gray finished with three touchdowns, but as a team Texas was held to 49 yards after halftime.


Pass Defense

The secondary played very well on Saturday, keeping Trickett from throwing a touchdown pass. Quandre Diggs played physical and came up with a big interception right before the half. 

Trickett was 36-of-49 passing, but many of his throws were screen passes and short tosses.


Run Defense

The run defense was very good in the first half, as Texas held the Mountaineers to 42 yards on the ground. Smith broke off a long run in the second half, and West Virginia finished the game with 200 yards rushing.

I still give the Longhorns a decent grade because of the way they held West Virginia in check in the first half.


Special Teams

Punter Michael Davidson booted punts for an average of 43.7 yards, and he pinned West Virginia inside the 20-yard line three times. Nick Rose went 1-of-2 on his kicks, but the kick before halftime was great for momentum.



The coaching staff was not as impressive with their halftime adjustments, but the defense ultimately played its best game of the season. The offense questionably threw the ball deep at times, and the flow just wasn't there offensively in the second half.

When you take into account how well the defense played, though, it's hard to give this staff a grade lower than a B-minus.

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Michigan vs. Northwestern: Game Grades, Analysis for the Wolverines

What Michigan and Northwestern did on Saturday was perhaps the ugliest display by any Big Ten team this season.

However, the 10-9 decision moved coach Brady Hoke’s Wolverines to 5-5 (3-3 B1G), so they’ll take it. They’ll become bowl eligible with one more victory.

That said, the way they almost lost to the Wildcats was indicative of this year's trends. With seconds to play, Northwestern quarterback Trevor Siemian found Tony Jones for a three-yard touchdown. Facing an obvious go-for-two situation, Siemian dropped back in hopes of tossing the winning ball.

Instead, he was flattened by Frank Clark, who led an aggressive defense that sacked Siemian seven times. Northwestern (3-6, 2-5) was close, but it was not close enough. The Wolverines, who are hanging on by a thread, had just enough gas to leave Evanston, Illinois, with a win.

So now it’s time to grade it. Of course, the marks will be heavily influenced by Michigan’s poor execution and missed opportunities—otherwise known as its calling card for 2014.


Pass Offense

The Wolverines just can’t throw the ball. That’s been emphasized on a weekly basis since 2013 but especially highlighted this season.

Devin Gardner was essentially at his worst Saturday night. He completed 11 of 24 attempts for a measly 109 yards. He also added his standard pair of picks.

Devin Funchess hasn’t been Devin Funchess since Week 1. He had two catches for an unimpressive 23 yards.

There is no other grade to give but D-. It’d be an F, but Jake Butt grabbed a late one, and Amara Darboh—who needs more reps—had four catches. Consider those extra-credit points after being late with your homework.


Pass Defense

Delonte Hollowell was burned by Jones, whose touchdown made it 10-9 Michigan. Ordinarily, that would drastically cut the grade. But it won’t tonight because Jourdan Lewis played an excellent game.

His defense on Kyle Prater saved a touchdown late in the fourth quarter.

Northwestern probably knew it wasn’t to going to win by running the ball. Attacking the secondary was the right move, and Siemian threw for 273 yards. Limiting him to one touchdown—a prayer at that—is a positive sign for a team looking for something to dull the sting of a disappointing season.

Jake Ryan had an interception. That’ll make up for Hollowell’s near-miss.

The pass D gets a B-. The good slightly outweighed the bad.


Run Offense

De’Veon Smith ran for 121 yards, averaging 6.7 yards per carry. He looked great. He hit holes, he ran with purpose and he picked up yards after contact. He ran like he should have been running all season. The sophomore picked up where Drake Johnson left off versus Indiana University this past Saturday. Johnson led the way with 122 yards in that game, but he couldn’t get going Saturday. He also fumbled, which isn’t a way to earn more carries.

The run offense gets a C. It scored the touchdown but wasn’t spectacular by any means.


Run Defense

Justin Jackson rushed for 35 yards. He entered the game with a team-high 726 yards and five touchdowns. He didn’t sniff the end zone Saturday. Defensive coordinator Greg Mattison’s game plan against the run stood the test. This topic will be highlighted in the coaching section.


Special Teams

Matt Wile’s 41-yard field-goal attempt was blocked with 27 seconds to play in the first half. However, his 37-yarder in the second half made it through the uprights. Will Hagerup had a punt that pinned the Wildcats just inches from the goal line in the second half.

Jehu Chesson forced a fumble while covering a punt.

Special teams get a B.



Mattison’s defense isn’t perfect. There are holes everywhere. But it finds a way to keep Team 135 competitive in the ugliest of affairs. It gave up nine points Saturday. It doesn’t matter who you play in the Big Ten—nine points are nine points.

Mattison’s run D continues to stop backs in their tracks. The Wildcats rushed for minus-nine yards, warranting an A. Instead, he’s getting a B+ because his secondary was touched up a bit by Siemian in the first half, and it gave up a late touchdown to Jones. 

Hoke gets a C-. He won. Good for him.

Doug Nussmeier’s offense churned out 147 rushing yards. He made several correct calls with Smith, who charged for 121 yards and the game’s only touchdown.

But poor quarterback play, Funchess being hit by a ball during a snap, Johnson’s fumble (recovered by Joe Kerridge) and several drops by receivers characterized Nussmeier’s ineffective offense as a whole.

He gets a D-. Ten points. That's why.


Follow Bleacher Report’s Michigan Wolverines football writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81.

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Michigan's Bowl Game Hopes Ride on Devin Gardner Making Improvements

It was ugly, but the University of Michigan beat Northwestern University 10-9, clawing back to even (5-5, 3-3 Big Ten) for the season. With two tough opponents remaining on the schedule, Michigan’s bowl hopes rely on quarterback Devin Gardner. Michigan needs to win at least one more game to be bowl eligible.

Gardner has had a tough season in offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier’s new offense. He’s regressed significantly since last season, when he starred in games versus the University of Notre Dame and Ohio State University. He continues to throw too many interceptions, some of which result in long returns. He also missed opportunities for big plays by holding the ball a split second too long and allowing the defense time to adjust.

The same problems emerged again versus Northwestern, as Gardner turned the ball over and threw dangerous passes. One interception resulted in a long return, and another near interception was a probable pick-six if the Northwestern defender could have held on. Gardner’s totals (11-of-24 for 109 yards and two interceptions) were also hurt by numerous drops by his receivers.

But there are signs that Gardner may be ready to play his best football of the season.

He appears to be recovering from a foot injury that has hampered his mobility for the last several games. He should also benefit from a bye week before Michigan’s next game. Gardner is getting better protection from his offensive line, which is also paying dividends for the Michigan running attack.

Last season, Gardner rallied in the season finale versus Ohio State. Michigan fell short 42-41, but Gardner played brilliantly despite a leg injury that put him on crutches for over a month.

Brady Hoke needs Gardner to summon a similar performance in the final two games. The stakes are bigger than just Michigan’s bowl hopes. Hoke is fighting to keep his job.

He is 2-0 since the resignation of athletic director David Brandon, but those victories came versus Indiana University (3-6, 0-5 Big Ten) and Northwestern (3-6, 2-4 Big Ten)—teams racked by injuries.

Michigan will face stiffer competition during the next two games. Michigan has a bye week, and then it returns to play the University of Maryland (6-3, 3-2 Big Ten) at home before traveling to play Ohio State (7-1, 4-0 Big Ten) in Columbus. Michigan will be prohibitive underdogs in both games.

Michigan’s bowl hopes rest in Gardner’s hands. His performance may also determine Hoke’s fate.

Gardner can also salvage his legacy, which has been severely dented during Michigan’s two-year fade.

Gardner has battled competition and injuries during his career to become Michigan’s starting quarterback. The next two games will determine how the story ends.

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