Grades: Devin Gardner clutch down the stretch to engineer Michigan comeback
ANN ARBOR -- Devin Gardner's numbers were down.
His performance was every bit as memorable -- and then some.
The Michigan receiver, playing quarterback for the injured Denard Robinson, engineered back-to-back second-half touchdown drives to help the Wolverines erase a 10-point deficit -- then, with one shot to pull Michigan into field-goal range trailing by three in the final seconds, he did it, finding Roy Roundtree on a 52-yarder.
Gardner ran for a touchdown in the first overtime, and his clutch performance was complete: Michigan, somewhat improbably, knocked off Northwestern 38-31 in overtime.
A look at how Gardner and others fared against Northwestern:
Devin Gardner: It wasn't always pretty, but it was another moving performance. He engineered back-to-back touchdown drives of 78 and 91 yards to erase a 10-point second-half deficit, then threw a pick that appeared to cost Michigan its shot. But with one shot to move Michigan into field goal range trailing by three in the final seconds -- he did it, hooking up with Roy Roundtree for a 52-yarder. He raced for a touchdown in the overtime to give Michigan a win it badly needed. He lulled in the middle of the game, completing 2-of-9 passes in one stretch, but was judicious in his decision making and executed throws that Denard Robinson cannot. He finished 16-of-29 passing for 286 yards and two touchdowns -- the best passing day of the season for a U-M quarterback -- and added 47 yards and another touchdown on the ground.A-
Fitz Toussaint: His numbers were better, racking up 65 in the first half on 11 carries (5.9 average) and finishing with 92. That's a season high -- and a bonus, he broke multiple tackles to score on a 28-yard catch. But he also had a costly fumble at the end of a 50-yard run that would have given Michigan a first down in the red zone. It's been that kind of season for him. B
Jeremy Gallon: Michigan's most consistent receiver had the biggest day of his career, production-wise. He finished with seven catches for 94 yards. His best moment came in the third quarter, when, for the second consecutive week, he put a double-move on his man and received a perfectly thrown ball from Gardner. This one went 42 yards, and Michigan -- trailing 24-14 -- scored a touchdown on the next play to launch a comeback attempt. A
Roy Roundtree: He's been inconsistent the past two years -- but also has two of the biggest catches, first the game-winning touchdown to finish off a comeback last year against Notre Dame, then a 52-yard desperation heave at the end of the fourth quarter to set up a field goal that forced overtime. He finished with four catches for 122 yards, none bigger than a 52-yarder that would never have been if the defender hadn't knocked it to him. But he'll take it. A
Linebackers: Northwestern gets it done on the ground, averaging 237.6 yards per game rushing with its spread attack. That was known -- and yet, much like last year, the linebackers and ends had a hard time moving sideline to sideline with the Wildcats, losing containment consistently. The Wildcats moved the ball almost at will for stretches, something no team has done since Alabama. Not even Nebraska was this effective against the Wolverines' linebackers. C-
Defensive backs: Not pretty. Northwestern's spread-option attack requires DBs to be active, but Michigan's were too easily blocked by the Wildcats' receivers. Northwestern even got what it wanted through the air -- where they ranked last in the Big Ten entering the game. It entered the game averaging 162.9 yards passing, but racked up 183 against Michigan's NCAA-best pass defense. The worst game since Alabama for Michigan's backfield. D