The rivalry between Ohio State and Michigan never needs any added tension to hype the yearly matchup, but Wolverines quarterback Devin Gardner went ahead and stoked the flames anyway this offseason.
As reported by Nick Baumgardner of MLive.com, Gardner—while speaking with "The Huge Show," a local Michigan radio program—made the prediction that his team would knock off their hated rival Buckeyes during their 2013 meeting:
"We always have room for improvement, but this is definitely a championship-caliber football team that will win in the 'Big House' against Ohio State. We don't feel like we're inferior to anyone in the country."
Even though Gardner didn't throw down the "guarantee" gauntlet, those are pretty strong words for a man who will be heading into his first full season as a starting quarterback.
Meanwhile, Ohio State will be on the short list of national title favorites after a 12-0 finish in 2012.
In his radio interview, Gardner went on to talk about the root of his confidence, as he outlined the team's work ethic this offseason and the senior trip he took with his teammates to train with Navy SEALs:
"Guys are working hard. That convinces me...We're not putting our lives on the line...but it's getting close to that when we're on the football field.That trip, we brought all those things back to the team...I feel like that trip really solidified that championship run we're getting ready to take."
Last season, the Wolverines nearly spoiled Ohio State's perfect 12-0 season after a hot start at The Horseshoe in Columbus. However, the OSU defense rebounded and shut out UM in the second half to seal the victory.
In the final five minutes of that game, Gardner was intercepted by Ohio State's C.J. Barnett, which signaled the end of Michigan's comeback attempt.
This season, the Buckeyes and the Wolverines will again meet up in their customary regular season finale on Nov. 30, and we'll be able to find out if Gardner can back up his offseason prediction.