Michigan vs. Minnesota: Wolverines Building Momentum for Buckeyes Finale

Steven Gerwel@Steve_GerContributor IIINovember 3, 2012

ANN ARBOR, MI - APRIL 16: Devin Gardner #7 of the Michigan Wolverines drops back to pass during the annual Spring Game at Michigan Stadium on April 16, 2011 in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Leon Halip/Getty Images

Michigan (6-3) rolled over Minnesota (5-3) in a Big Ten showdown that gives the Wolverines confidence moving forward. 

QB Devin Gardner had only 18 attempts, but he made his completions count, as he picked up 234 yards and a pair of touchdowns, while adding a third touchdown on the ground. 

It was quite a performance for the backup passer, who filled in for the injured Denard Robinson. 

Injury Update - Denard Robinson (undisclosed injury) is out today. Devin Gardner will start at QB.

— Michigan Football (@umichfootball) November 3, 2012

The Michigan running back duo—Fitzgerald Toussaint and Thomas Rawls—added to the damage by combining for 113 rushing yards and two touchdowns. 

The victory is too little, too late, as the Wolverines have already lost three games on the season, but there's still time to salvage at least some of the expectations. 


Michigan and the Final Stretch 

The 35-13 victory over the Gophers came as no surprise, but the landslide win gives Michigan confidence heading into the final stretch of their schedule against three conference rivals—Northwestern, Iowa and Ohio State.

Northwestern and Iowa are capable opponents who are also beatable. Back-to-back wins will have Michigan running on all cylinders as they prepare for the golden goose—Ohio State. 

The dynamic Braxton Miller and the undefeated Buckeyes are ranked No. 6 in the AP Top 25 (according to ESPN). 

Ohio State is ineligible for a bowl-game appearance thanks to the NCAA sanctions, but that doesn't mean they won't take pleasure in winning the Big Ten. 

Michigan can tarnish the Buckeyes' perfect season and salvage their own by simply securing a victory during the season finale. 

It's a tall order at this point, but victories over Northwestern and Iowa will give them the confidence they desperately need. 

If they fall short, the 2012 Wolverines will be remembered as nothing more than a monumental disappointment.