Michigan Football: QB Robinson Needs Big Wins vs. Ranked Opponents to Fix Legacy

Ethan Grant@DowntownEGAnalyst IOctober 7, 2012

SOUTH BEND, IN - SEPTEMBER 22:  Denard Robinson #16 of the Michigan Wolverines is hit by Bennett Jackson #2 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Notre Dame Stadium on September 22, 2012 in South Bend, Indiana. Notre Dame defeated Michigan 13-6.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Over the course of his time at Michigan, Denard Robinson has a 3-11 record against ranked opponents. That doesn't bode well for his legacy in the school's history books, or even in the minds of Big Blue faithful.

But lucky for the senior QB, he'll have plenty of chances to atone for his poor record in big games.

The stats on Robinson speak for themselves. Saturday in the 44-13 win against Purdue, Robinson climbed above 3,900 yards rushing, putting him as the sole leader in that category in Big 10 history. He passed Indiana's Antwaan Randle El for the mark.

He's also inching towards all-time NCAA records at his position, currently sitting at fifth place on the all-time list after passing Josh Cribbs on Saturday.

Forget the talk that this guy isn't an NFL QB. He knows that, and so does the rest of the league. The two records in question were made by guys who are both in the NFL—or were at one time, and they both played the wide receiver position.

Robinson is one of the best QBs Michigan has run out there to take the snap. His four years rival very few, and when he leaves they can credit him and Brady Hoke as the centerpieces of this program's revival.

However, Robinson is going to be remembered more for that 3-11 mark (a number that could climb all the way to 3-15, depending on a bowl game) than he is for his stellar dual-threat ability and game-changing speed.

He's going to have the opportunity to shine against ranked opponents Northwestern, Ohio State and Nebraska, and Michigan State could very well be ranked again by Week 8.

Already, he's put up stinkers against Alabama and Notre Dame. In his defense, those are two of the best defenses in the nation, and both are still undefeated.

But seven turnovers in two games is unacceptable, no matter who you're playing or what kind of stage the game is on. It just so happens that those inexcusable plays seem to come at the worst time for Michigan fans, when they're ready to make a push as an elite team in the country.

In the two losses this year, Robinson has thrown one TD and tossed six interceptions. In the other three games, he's thrown three touchdowns to two interceptions.

But the one saving grace for Robinson might be the lack of a clear favorite in the Legends division, and in the Big 10 as a whole. Ohio State, for all their glory this year, aren't eligible for the championship game or the postseason.

Only four of the 12 teams are undefeated in conference play, and that means Michigan can control their own destiny towards the Big 10 birth in the BCS and the Rose Bowl.

That's the kind of motivation that should push Robinson over the edge, and help him create a legacy that includes big wins against ranked opponents.

If you look at Denard's game over the course of his time at Michigan, turnovers had always been a part of his struggles. He's not an accomplished passer, and smart defenses have forced him to become a pocket passer, something he simply can't do very well.

Others have forced him into careless fumbles and negative plays, something this offense simply can't stand for.

Bottom line, Robinson is one of the best QBs in the history of the program. The stats speak for themselves, and Robinson should break former West Virginia QB Pat White's record of 4,480 yards rushing by the time the season ends.

He's a standup guy, and it's hard to criticize what he's done at Michigan. But when folks look back, I think they will point to his record in big games as his downfall, and that might ultimately keep him from being included with Wolverine elite.

If he comes back strong the rest of the season and pushes that total to six or seven wins, it would at least help make that number look more respectable, and hopefully give Robinson and the Wolverines the parting exit that they can write about for years to come.