Michigan vs. Ohio State: What Rivalry Game Means for Top Stars

Kyle NewportFeatured ColumnistNovember 23, 2012

ANN ARBOR, MI - NOVEMBER 26:  Denard Robinson #16 of the Michigan Wolverines gets in for a second quarter touchdown past the tackle of Etienne Sabino #6 of the Ohio State Buckeyes at Michigan Stadium on November 26, 2011 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

As the Michigan Wolverines and The Ohio State Buckeyes prepare for The Game, quarterbacks Denard Robinson and Braxton Miller will have plenty to prove to their respective fan bases.

The Wolverines beat the Buckeyes last season for the first time since 2003, but they now have the challenge of trying to win back-to-back games in this rivalry.

Ohio State, meanwhile, is playing for everything in this game. The Buckeyes enter the game at 11-0, and are trying to cap off a perfect season for the first time since 2002. This is their bowl game, as they cannot play in the postseason because of NCAA sanctions. 

Both quarterbacks bring similar games to the table. Each signal-caller has been an explosive runner in college with some struggles through the air. 

Robinson and Miller have the ability to lead explosive offenses, and both quarterbacks will get a chance to go up against top-50 defenses—the Buckeyes with the nation's 38th-best defense, and the Wolverines with the country's 12th-best unit. This matchup could end up being one of the great games in this rivalry.

As Saturday gets closer, both stars need to be focused on putting up big numbers in this rivalry game.

Denard Robinson

Against Iowa last week, Robinson started at running back because of an elbow injury. It is unclear what his role will be this week, but there is not a chance that he will miss this game.

The 22-year-old was used to run and catch the ball last week, but he was not given the chance to throw the ball. This role could actually help him in the future as he prepares for the NFL.

Instead of worrying about going pro at this point, Robinson will be trying to end his career on a high note.

The quarterback has thrown and rushed for over 1000 yards in each of the past three seasons. Because of injuries, this has been his worst season, statistically, since his freshman year. 

What does this game mean for Robinson?

Even if he does throw the ball on Saturday, he will still have a chance to make his mark. He has a chance to be a game-changer in the backfield. His ability to run the ball gives his team a chance to win. With a Michigan win, it would mark the second consecutive win over Ohio State, which has not been done since 1999-2000.

With a win and a Nebraska loss, Michigan would be able to compete for its first Big Ten title game victory. The Big Ten title would give the Wolverines a spot in a BCS game for the second year in a row for the first time since the 2004 and 2005 Rose Bowls.

Robinson has been one of the most explosive players in college football for three seasons, and part of his legacy will be determined this weekend. Michigan quarterbacks need to be able to beat the Buckeyes, so it will be crucial for him to lead his team to a victory no matter what his role is this week.

Braxton Miller 

While Robinson is trying to add one last piece to his legacy, Miller is looking to continue his rise to stardom. He likely lost out on any chance of winning the Heisman with his performance against Wisconsin last week, but he could still earn a trip to New York with a big game this week.

Miller has over 3000 combined passing and rushing yards this season, and his numbers are worthy of a trip to the Heisman ceremony. A good performance against Michigan will put the quarterback among the favorites to win the award next season.

Ohio State has had this game circled all year because of its bowl ban. With the 2002 national champions being honored, Miller will have to be ready to put on a great performance to finish off a perfect season.

Troy Smith, Todd Boeckman and Terrelle Pryor all have something in common: They never lost to Michigan. Miller has already lost to that team up north, but he has a chance to start a new streak of winning in this rivalry game.

Ohio State fans will always remember this season if the team goes undefeated. They will remember that Miller was the man leading the way on a team that got past every challenge that came its way.

Miller has struggled to have a good completion percentage, so this game would be a good time for him to show off his passing skills. If Wisconsin did anything last week, it showed how to stop Miller from running the ball.

The sophomore has more riding on this game than Robinson. A loss in this game will have Ohio State fans wondering if he will ever beat Michigan, which will add even more pressure going into next season.

With Miller starting his career similarly to the way Robinson did, Saturday's game will give him the opportunity to outplay the Michigan senior.

Ohio State has its perfect season on the line, and Miller needs to add to his legacy as a Buckeye by beating that team up north.