Ohio State and Michigan held spring games on Saturday. They were largely mundane affairs, as these glorified practices tend to be.
The Buckeyes played their game in an Ohio city that isn't nuts about Ohio State football – yes, these places exist – and borders SEC country. The Wolverines were at home in Ann Arbor, but the game was contested in snowy conditions, not exactly ideal for building excitement within the fan base. Fewer than 20,000 turned out to Michigan Stadium.
But the first post-Denard Robinson spring game provided Michigan fans with hope, this coming on the heels of a heartbreaking defeat in college basketball’s national championship game.
At nearly the same moment, Ohio State and Michigan, with games separated by 250 miles, gave fans a glimmer of what could come in the fall. Braxton Miller completed a 49-yard pass on the first play, while Devin Gardner connected with a receiver on a 29-yard strike.
Saturday's performance from Miller was expected. He dazzled with his arm and his legs, leading the Scarlet team to four touchdowns in a 31-14 victory. What Gardner would do, though, was a little more uncertain. After all, this was a player who began 2012 as a backup quarterback, then shifted to wide receiver, only to be thrust into the starting quarterback position when Robinson was injured in late October.
Gardner played well in spot duty, winning his first three starts while ending the season with consecutive losses to Ohio State and South Carolina. He completed nearly 60 percent of his pass attempts for the season and tossed 11 touchdowns and five interceptions.
But now the Maize and Blue is undoubtedly Gardner’s team.