Devin Gardner ditched his old No. 12 for Tom Harmon’s No. 98 on Saturday and for most of the night looked like he was the former Wolverine great reincarnated, as he led No. 17 Michigan to a 41-30 win over No. 14 Notre Dame in front of a Michigan Stadium-record-crowd of 115,109.
Gardner completed 21 of 33 passes for 294 yards and four touchdowns (with a pick) and added 68 yards and a score on the ground as Michigan beat the Irish for the fourth time in five years.
How appropriate was it that, on a night when Michigan honored a player (Harmon) known for producing touchdowns in bunches, the player wearing his number ran and passed for five scores?
The Irish played hard on both sides of the ball, but ultimately had no answer for Gardner, who seemed to run at will and find favorite target Jeremy Gallon (eight catches, 184 yards, three scores) whenever he needed a big play. More importantly, Gardner’s performance seemed to signal, once and for all, that this was finally his team. The Wolverines are going to sink or swim by his play.
And with Notre Dame out of the way, Michigan looks like a good bet to enter November at 7-0. That’s when the Wolverines take on rival Michigan State in Lansing before hosting Nebraska and then traveling to play a tough Northwestern team. If Michigan can get by that slate, it could set up a monster match up with Ohio State at season’s end.
Meanwhile, the Irish defense needs to regroup before it hits the meat of its schedule. It can’t depend on Tommy Rees (314 passing yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions) to carry the load week-in and week-out. If Notre Dame can get back to the physical style it exhibited during last season’s BCS run, it might yet find its way back in a major bowl.
As it turns out, the short-term hit North Carolina took to its offensive line last weekend will turn into a long-turn one.
Caleb Peterson (pictured, being uplifted) suffered a back injury earlier this month that kept him out of both the Virginia Tech (Oct. 8) and Miami (Oct. 15) games. Thursday night, the school announced that the offensive lineman will undergo surgery Friday at the Carrell Clinic in Dallas.
As a result, the senior guard will miss the remainder of the 2016 season. Peterson used his redshirt in 2012 and isn’t eligible for any type of waiver, meaning the 6-5, 300-pound lineman has likely seen his collegiate playing career come to an end.
In his Tar Heel career, Peterson had started a total of 42 games. He had a streak of 30 straight starts snapped when he missed the Tech game.
Following the 2015 season, Peterson was named second-team All-ACC by the league’s coaches.
In addition to Peterson, the football program also announced that Jonathan Smith underwent season-ending surgery Thursday to repair a fracture in his right foot. The freshman linebacker initially suffered the injury during practice in the week leading up to the game against the Hokies.
A three-star member of UNC’s 2016 recruiting class, Smith was rated as the No. 21 inside linebacker in the country and the No. 25 player at any position in the state of North Carolina. He had appeared in six games as a true freshman this season, and was credited with one tackle.
It’s looking more and more likely that Oregon State will be at less than full strength in their backfield when they line up against No. 5 Washington Saturday evening.
Leading rusher Ryan Nall aggravated a foot injury in last Saturday’s loss after just one carry and is officially listed as doubtful for the game against the Huskies. Nall did not practice Thursday and was still wearing a boot to protect the injured foot.
Additionally, Nall’s backup, Artavis Pierce, is dealing with a stinger and did not participate in the portion of practice open to the media, The Oregonian reported.
Nall currently leads the Beavers with 464 yards and six rushing touchdowns. He’s also third on the team with 13 receptions.
Pierce is second behind Nall with 262 yards.
If neither Nall nor Pierce are available, the bulk of the running game load would be shouldered by Tim Cook. The senior has carried the ball nine times this season for 22 yards.
Trey Dunkelberger changed positions earlier this year during spring practice. Seven months or so later, he’s changing programs.
The website JUCO Football Frenzy reported Wednesday that Dunkelberger had decided to transfer from Syracuse. The tight end “confirmed” the move in the form of retweeting the site’s original tweet.
The Syracuse Post-Standard subsequently confirmed the initial report via a text from the player himself, although the football program has yet to address the player’s status with the team moving forward.
Dunkelberger will be leaving the Orange as a graduate transfer, meaning he could move on to another FBS program and be eligible to play immediately in 2017. Next season will be his final year of eligibility.
After playing in one game last season, Dunkelberger has not seen the field yet on 2016. He moved from tight end to defensive end during spring practice, then back to tight end in summer camp.
Boise State did just about everything they could to give the game away. BYU did their best to take it too.
In the end the Broncos survived a whopping five turnovers and blocked a last second field goal to escape with a 28-27 win over their regional rivals.
Tailback Jeremy McNichols scored on the third play of the game on his way to a 140 yard, one touchdown night on the ground to go along with an impressive 109 yards and a touchdown through the air. Wideout Thomas Sperbeck had 109 yards and a score as well and became the school’s all-time leading receiver while doing so.
Quarterback Brett Rypien put up some big numbers with 442 yards passing and three touchdowns but did throw two pick-sixes as part of a wild second quarter that kept BYU in the game.
That stretch also included a potentially disastrous fake punt from the Cougars own end zone on 4th-and-19. The attempt was stuffed at the goal line but the defense held Boise State to a field goal attempt that was eventually shanked to cause no harm on the scoreboard.
BYU was without the services of tailback Jamaal Williams, who became the school’s all-time leading rusher last week against Mississippi State but was held out with an ankle injury he aggravated during warmups. In his place, Squally Canada ran for 88 yards on 21 carries.
Quarterback Taysom Hill had a rough night passing (21-of-42 for just 187 yards) but nearly rallied his team for a game-winning score with under two minutes left.
The win keeps Boise State undefeated and in the driver’s seat for the lucrative Group of Five bid to a major bowl game at the end of the season. While a loss would not have completely derailed their chances at making to the New Year’s Six, it would have made things interesting given the number of other candidates for the spot.
After a turnover-filled outing and nearly blowing a second half lead for the second week in a row, you can bet that the Broncos will look to regroup over the coming days and get back on track ahead of their trip to Wyoming.