Michigan maintains pace in Legends Division; problem is, so does Nebraska
ANN ARBOR -- Devin Gardner stepped up in the pocket, launched the ball high into the Ann Arbor afternoon -- and off the hands of a Northwestern defender.
The ball hung in the air for a moment, Michigan's Big Ten title hopes hinging on its fate.
Luckily for the Wolverines, receiver Roy Roundtree plucked it out of the air and pinned it against his helmet for a 53-yard gain in the final seconds of regulation against Northwestern.
Kicker Brendan Gibbons tied the game with a field goal on the next play, Gardner dashed for the end zone in overtime and Michigan held on for a 38-31 win that guarantees its title hopes will live for another week.
But that's the only guarantee, as Nebraska also maintained pace in the Legends Division race.
The Cornhuskers found themselves trailing in the second half, but, like its game against Michigan State two weeks ago, coasted past Penn State courtesy of a big second half.
They received breaks in both games, too, turning a questionable pass interference call against the Spartans into a game-winning touchdown and recovering a fumble in the end zone against the Nittany Lions that appeared to first cross the plane for a Penn State touchdown.
Those are breaks for Nebraska, and sting the Wolverines' title hopes.
Michigan and Nebraska remain knotted atop the standings at 5-1 -- which means the Wolverines' loss in Lincoln last month now looms large, as a tie would go to Nebraska.
The Wolverines need to win out against Iowa and Ohio State, and hope the Cornhuskers fall to either Minnesota or Iowa to earn an invitation to Indianapolis.
"It's a good situation for us," Michigan offensive lineman Taylor Lewan said. "But people are always asking, 'Who are you focused on?' It doesn't matter. We're focused on Michigan getting 1-0 every week, and that's always going to be our goal."
Michigan's win against Northwestern bullied the Wildcats out of the race.
It now will come down to the Wolverines and Cornhuskers, amplifying the magnitude of the injury to Denard Robinson that played a large role in Michigan's loss in Lincoln.
Nebraska 5-1, 8-2
Michigan 5-1, 7-3
Northwestern 3-3, 7-3
Iowa 2-4, 4-6
Minnesota 2-4, 6-4
Michigan State 2-4, 5-5
Ohio State 6-0, 10-0
Wisconsin 4-2, 7-3
Penn State 4-2, 6-4
Indiana 2-4, 4-6
Purdue 1-5, 4-6
Illinois 0-6, 2-8