The Game: No. 4 Ohio State to host No. 20 Michigan


The Game: No. 4 Ohio State to host No. 20 Michigan

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) Devin Gardner has flourished in three straight starts at quarterback for Michigan.

Denard Robinson is healthy enough to play, but can't seem to do more than lightly lob a short pass.

So, is there any chance Robinson will go back to being the team's QB on Saturday at Ohio State?

``I guess he could,'' Wolverines coach Brady Hoke said with a straight face. ``I don't know. It's an option.''

Yeah, right.

Let The Game - and the gamesmanship - begin.

Even if it's obvious, Hoke must think acknowledging the fact that Gardner will stay at QB while Robinson lines up as a running back or receiver would give the rival Buckeyes a bit of information to help them prepare for Saturday's game.

No. 4 Ohio State (11-0, 7-0 Big Ten) will host the 20th-ranked Wolverines (8-3, 6-1) in its finale with a shot to win The Associated Press national title.

The Buckeyes, though, can't play for the conference championship because they're ineligible to play in the postseason as part of sanctions stemming from a memorabilia-for-cash scandal under ex-coach Jim Tressel.

After Ohio State beat the Wisconsin Badgers 21-14 in overtime Saturday to seal the Legends Division title, coach Urban Meyer said they're not the program's rival.

``The next one is,'' Meyer said. ``So when we use that `R' word, we're talking about this week.''

When Hoke talks about the Buckeyes this week, he won't say Ohio State once - dropping the second word in the school's name in what he insists is not intended to insult the storied program he grew up rooting against despite growing up near Dayton, Ohio.

``There's a lot of respect on both sides for both programs,'' he said after a 42-17 win over Iowa.

Hoke will lead college football's winningest program in a game at the Horseshoe for the first time against Meyer, who hasn't been a head coach in what is referred to as The Game.

``It's going to be fun,'' Hoke said.


And, it'll be interesting - or fun - to see how Michigan offensive coordinator Al Borges uses Gardner and Robinson after playing both extensively against the Hawkeyes.

Hoke said the coaching staff has been discussing ways to use them both on the field for 18 months - since he replaced fired coach Rich Rodriguez - and talk turned to action when Robinson was cleared to play after missing two-plus games with nerve damage in his right elbow.

``After the Northwestern game that night, (Borges) had nine plays ready and then we put six more in,'' Hoke said.

Gardner gave Robinson the ball on a toss sweep to the right on Michigan's first play and threw it to him to the left on the next snap.

Robinson also got a handoff and made an option pitch to Fitzgerald Toussaint, whose left leg appeared to break on the unique play, and Robinson just a decoy on another play in which Gardner threw one of his three touchdown passes.

Gardner knew the Wolverines would make crafty plays work against Iowa because they did against their own defense even when teammates thought they knew what was coming.

``I felt like if they knew from one practice to the next that it was coming and still couldn't stop it, then the other team would definitely not be able to stop it,'' Gardner said.

Robinson took some snaps at QB, but didn't throw once against the Hawkeyes.

Can he pass?

``Yes, but not as well as he'd like to,'' Hoke said.

That, once again, might just be another thing Michigan is going to let Robinson do against the Buckeyes, who might not expect him to attempt passes downfield.

Ohio State linebacker Zach Boren probably understands The Game and the gamesmanship that goes along with it as well as anyone on the field Saturday.

His dad, Mike, played for Michigan and so did his brother, Justin, before famously - or infamously - transferring to Ohio State and taking a shot at the then-Rodriguez led Wolverines by saying family values had eroded within the program.

``That's the biggest rivalry in sports,'' Zach Boren said. ``Now we can turn our attention to them. We'll be ready. This team keeps on getting better and better each week.''


AP National Writer Nancy Armour in Madison, Wis., contributed to this report.


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Wizards display lack of urgency in loss to Nuggets and Scott Brooks is frustrated

Wizards display lack of urgency in loss to Nuggets and Scott Brooks is frustrated

Following their seventh loss in 11 games and another lackluster performance in key areas, Wizards head coach Scott Brooks reverted back to a critique that characterized many defeats months ago. He called into question the effort of his team, more specifically their urgency. How they could overlook the stakes at this point of the season and with so much on the line had escaped him.

Brooks wasn't pleased following Washington's 108-100 loss to the Denver Nuggets on Friday night. He didn't like their three-point defense, their inability to force turnovers and their lack of zip on offense. But overall, it was the apparent lack of realization that time is running out in the regular season and off-nights cannot be afforded.

"We have to play with more spirit [and] we have to take some pride in our home court," Brooks said. "We’re building our habits going into the playoffs and these are moments where we need to take advantage because it’s playoff implications in every game."


Pride is something Brooks has referenced after the Wizards' worst defeats since he took over. This one didn't qualify, as they only lost by eight points and had opportunities late to write a different ending. But they were playing a team fighting for their own playoff position in the opposite conference and for the most part did not match their intensity.

The Nuggets, to put it plainly, are among the worst defensive teams in basketball. They were missing their leading scorer, Gary Harris. And they tightened their rotation to just eight players.

Yet the Wizards only managed 100 points, six below their season average, and committed 17 turnovers. Aside from their 33-point third quarter, the Wizards' offense was effectively stalled. 

"We can’t have guys that are not going to participate with hard cuts and hard setups and good screens. We need everybody. It’s not one person, it’s all," Brooks said.


The Wizards only forced 10 turnovers on the Nuggets and only three in the first half. That held back their offense in the sense they had few opportunities for fastbreak buckets.

"That’s where we get most of our offense from anyways, getting stops, getting out in transition," forward Otto Porter said.

The Wizards have lost two straight games. Meanwhile, the Cavaliers and Pacers both won on Friday night.

The Wizards are sixth place in the East and just 1 1/2 games out of fourth, but there is a huge difference in those spots. Sixth could mean meeting the Cavs in the first round and they have won three straight since Kevin Love returned from injury.


The Cavaliers could quickly become the most dangerous team in the Eastern Conference. Their record is deceiving due to Love's injury and they still boast LeBron James, the best player on the planet. No one can control a playoff series quite like he can.

An argument could be made the Wizards would be better off moving down than up, as the seventh spot would match them up with the injury-riddled Boston Celtics. The Wizards are just 1 1/2 games ahead of the seventh-seed Miami Heat.

The Wizards, though, would prefer to move up and they still have a chance to get into fourth, which would mean home court advantage.

John Wall will return at some point, likely soon. In the short-term, Brooks would like to some urgency and for his team to get back to the trademark ball movement that allowed them to go 10-3 in their first 13 games when Wall went down.

"We can get it back, but it’s not going to come back. We have to go get it. It’s time to do it; it’s time," Brooks said.

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Game 75 Capitals at Canadiens Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

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Game 75 Capitals at Canadiens Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Montreal Canadiens

Where: Bell Centre, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

When: 7:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Canadiens will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington.

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Canadiens game on NBC Sports' live stream page.


The Capitals (43-24-7) take on the Canadiens (27-36-12) Saturday, March 24 at 7:00 p.m. ET in Montreal.


The Capitals-Canadiens game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off on NBC Sports Washington with Capitals FaceOff at 6:00 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 6:30 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington after the game for Caps Extra and Caps Overtime at 10:00 p.m. for postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

6:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
6:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
7:00 p.m. — Capitals at Canadiens
9:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime


You can watch the Capitals-Canadiens game on NBC Sports' live stream page.


Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

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