The Michigan Wolverines may not need Denard Robinson this week but they'll need him soon if they want to nail down a spot in the Rose Bowl.
After starting the season with the Alabama debacle, this is a very strong accomplishment.
Backup quarterback Devin Gardner has played extremely well in Robinson's absence but in order for Michigan to beat Ohio State and have a chance to go to the Rose Bowl, they'll need Robinson healthy as soon as possible.
Michigan probably won't play Robinson this week, as they play the Iowa Hawkeyes at home.
They'll need to win out and hope the Nebraska Cornhuskers, the team above them in the standings, lose one of their last two games.
Even though Devin Gardner has played well, let's try and figure out why Denard Robinson will need to be back next weekend for Michigan's Rose Bowl hopes.
Inexperience of Devin Gardner
The wide receiver turned quarterback Devin Gardner has stepped in admirably for Denard Robinson.
He has thrown four touchdowns in his two games in taking down Minnesota and ranked Northwestern.
However, before this season, Gardner had only thrown 33 attempted passes in his college football career. His inexperience at the quarterback position may prove costly in the future.
Why? The pivotal matchup against Ohio State will be played at Ohio Stadium.
Road games are much harder for inexperienced players to succeed.
Even though Denard hasn't played well this year in big games against the Alabama Crimson Tide, Notre Dame Fighting Irish and Nebraska Cornhuskers, he does have the game experience to succeed.
According to CFBstats.com, the Buckeyes are ranked 41st on defense, so it isn't like Denard is facing a shutdown defense.
Blend of running and passing
No offense to Gardner, who is a tremendous athlete—how else can one switch so seamlessly from receiving to passing the ball—but he isn't the athlete that Denard Robinson is.
So good of an athlete is Denard that draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. slotted him as the fifth best senior wideout in the 2013 draft class.
Put the passing and running together and Denard has had a sensational career from his first carry—a touchdown—to his last game as a Wolverine.
Robinson is the owner of the most yards ever by any player in Michigan football history, accounting for 10,435 yards in his career. He is also fourth in career passing yards and passing touchdowns, third in career touchdowns and fifth in career rushing yards.
Put that all together and Michigan's slim Rose Bowl chances will suffer mightily if he isn't on the field.
Denard's last game
There isn't a statistic that proves teams will play harder when they are aware that their best player is a budding Michigan legend and will play the last game of his career.
It doesn't mean that they'll be more inclined to leave it all on the field, but it doesn't hurt.
After breaking so many records and lighting the world on fire from his first ever carry, Robinson will be playing his last home game against Iowa (if he plays) and last regular season game (at Ohio State) in a Michigan uniform.
Not only does Robinson present the Michigan Wolverines with the best chance at winning in the next two weeks, fans will be watching his very last games as one of the best players in Michigan football history.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!