Ohio State and Michigan have arguably the most intense rivalry in college football, and perhaps all of sports. But when Buckeyes quarterback JT Barrett went down with a serious injury last Saturday, his counterpart brushed all of that to the side.
Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner gave us probably the best display of sportsmanship of the year when he went over to Barrett and consoled him as the freshman was laying on the turf. On Wednesday, Ohio State sent Gardner a letter to thank him for being a class act.
The letter came from Dave Claborn, Ohio State’s Director of Development and Community Relations.
“I really appreciate Dave Claborn & the OSU athletic department for this kind letter!” Gardner wrote when he posted the letter on Instagram. “Just saw it today and was very moved!”
We’ve heard countless stories about how the Buckeyes and Wolverines hate each other. Kudos to Gardner for forgetting about all of that in a game his team was losing.
Ohio State vs. Michigan is one of college football’s more well known and storied matchups. On Saturday, Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner showed beneath the fierce competition is a compassion and respect that supersedes the fiercest of rivalries.
Buckeyes quarterback J.T. Barrett was carted off the field with what would later be diagnosed as a fractured right ankle, bringing to an end his freshman season. Prior to being transported away, Barrett was consoled by Gardner in a great display of sportsmanship.
The two schools have produced numerous memorable moments during their more than one hundred meetings. This one will surely be added to the list.
Michigan lost to Ohio State earlier this season in a game that reminded us why Buckeyes-Wolverines is one of the best rivalries in sports. It was a heartbreaking 42-41 loss for Michigan, but quarterback Devin Gardner gave fans plenty to be proud of. They should feel an even greater sense of pride when they learn that Gardner played most of the second half with a broken foot.
Bruce Feldman of CBS Sports reports that the junior quarterback suffered a broken foot during the second drive of the third quarter and continued to play through the pain. He led the Wolverines to three touchdown drives on their final four possessions against the Buckeyes, coming up just short on a two-point conversion attempt that would have given Michigan the lead with 33 seconds left.
We had no problem with Brady Hoke going for two and the win against Ohio State, though we said at the time that we would have liked to see Gardner run the ball with Ohio State seemingly playing the pass. The severity of the foot injury could help explain why running the ball was not an option.
Gardner finished the game 451 yards, four passing touchdowns and one rushing touchdown. He did a lot of that damage after breaking his foot.
Freshman quarterback Shane Morris is expected to start on Saturday in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl against Kansas State.
Quarterbacks usually wear low jersey numbers somewhere between 1-19, but that will not be the case for Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner.
Gardner switched to jersey number 98 in honor of 1940 Heisman Trophy winner Tom Harmon for the Notre Dame game at the Big House on Saturday, and he will wear the number for the remainder of the season. Harmon achieved Michigan Football Legend status.
“My father would be only proud,” actor Mark Harmon said on Saturday before the game, via the Detroit Free Press. “He’d be embarrassed, but he’d be proud. Embarrassed because he was a humble man and he thought no one did it alone…. For Michigan, it’s an important day in recognizing my dad, both deserved. There wasn’t anything my dad did in his life that didn’t have the word Michigan attached to it.”
Gardner was extremely grateful for the honor.
“It’s difficult to say how honored I am to wear No. 98,” Gardner said in a statement via MLive.com. “You see Tom Harmon photos and prints all over our building, knowing all the things he accomplished on the field for this program and then representing our country, and to have the opportunity to speak to his family today, it’s kind of surreal.
“I’m extremely humbled and blessed.”
Michigan also tweeted the announcement on Saturday and included this picture of Gardner in the 98 jersey without pads:
The average sports fan does not need a history lesson to inform them of the hatred that exists between Michigan and Ohio State. On the football field, the rivalry is one of the greatest in sports. That explains why Wolverines quarterback Devin Gardner will be wearing an Oregon State jersey during Michigan’s spring game on Saturday.
Because of an ACL injury to backup quarterback Russell Bellomy, Gardner is currently the only quarterback on the Michigan roster that is under scholarship. That has inspired the team to dress him in a non-contact jersey for Saturday’s game, which would typically be red. However, red is the color of the Buckeyes, so that’s not happening.
“As we’ve stated, we don’t wear red jerseys, so these were a temporary fix until we could get some custom jerseys made, which we hope will be in this week,” A Michigan spokesman told MLive.com in an email.
An Oregon State spokesman explained that the Wolverines were in need of a contrasting color and that the equipment guys from both schools know one another, so that’s how the Beavers ended up lending a helping hand. An equipment manager from Oregon State also told Inside Unis on Twitter that Michigan needed help in a hurry, so they came to their aid.
And once again, we hear another perfect example of why this Michigan recruit may not fit in all that well when he gets to Ann Arbor. The hatred between the Wolverines and Buckeyes is not exaggerated.