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

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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.

Indeed.

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.''

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

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Follow Larry Lage on Twitter:http://twitter.com/larrylage

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: On to Vegas!

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USA TODAY Sports

Capitals Faceoff Podcast: On to Vegas!

The Capitals are the Eastern Conference Champions!

After dispatching Tampa Bay in Game 7, the Caps claimed the conference crown for just the second time in franchise history. But they're not done yet. Now it's on to Vegas to face the Golden Knights for the Stanley Cup.

JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir break down the Caps' win over the Lightning and look ahead to the matchup with the Knights.

Check out their latest episode in the player below or listen on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page.

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Michigan's Moritz Wagner could be Wizards' solution for a stretch-five

Michigan's Moritz Wagner could be Wizards' solution for a stretch-five

The pre-draft workout process can be an exhausting journey for players, with so many flights, hotel rooms and NBA arenas that they can all blend in together. Michigan big man Moritz Wagner, though, may have felt a sense of comfort in Washington for his pre-draft workout for the Wizards on Wednesday.

It was just over a year ago that his Michigan Wolverines cut down the nets at Capital One Arena as champions of the Big Ten conference.

"It was good memories, man. Never gets old," he said while glancing around the stadium.

Wagner, 21, will be seeing a lot more of Capital One Arena once he joins the NBA ranks and it is conceivable he ends up in Washington. They hold the 15th pick in the first round and the 44th pick in the second round and Wagner could be within their reach.

Wagner had an impressive workout in Washington and could provide what the Wizards need. He is a big, mobile and can spread the floor. Wagner was terrific at stepping out to hit threes off pick-and-rolls at Michigan and that ability would work well with Wizards All-Star point guard John Wall.

Wagner measured in at just under 7-feet at this month's NBA Combine, fifth-tallest among those who attended. He averaged 14.6 points as a junior this past season and made 39.4 percent of his threes on 4.1 attempts per game.

With three years of college experience and an NBA-ready jumper, Wagner believes he can step right in and help the Wizards.

"I think what we did at Michigan, sharing the ball and playing as a team, very organized basketball, that can help big-time," he said. "It's basically pro basketball I was playing on a different level."

As Wagner will tell you, he is very confident in his abilities. He is comfortable in his own skin and that includes openly discussing his faults. He feels good about his ability to score at the next level. Defense is where he needs to prove himself.

Despite his size, Wagner wasn't much of a rim protector in college. He averaged just a half-block a game as a junior. The Wizards need rim protection badly and he likely would not provide that.

Wagner, though, believes he can bring more to the table defensively than the numbers would suggest.

"I think I've been an offensive guy all of my life, but the more that you mature as a player, you understand that both sides are important. Without defense, you aren't going to play at any level," he said.

"I think the most important thing that I wasn't able to show in college is that I'm able to switch the ball-screen, especially with the way the league is going. Switch on everything and stay in front of guards as a big guy."

Wagner is from Germany and looks up to Mavs legend Dirk Nowitzki, who is entering his 21st season and will be in the Hall of Fame someday. Nowitzki's game has always been built around shooting and, though he developed into a decent shot-blocker in his prime, was never an elite rim protector.

Wagner hopes to follow in his footsteps playing a similar style.

"He was my MJ. He kind of shows you 'okay, this is possible and this is doable.' It's just basketball," Wagner said. "It gives you a lot of hope. It gives you a lot of belief and motivation."

Hear more from Wagner in his one-on-one interview with Chris Miller in our latest Wizards Tipoff podcast. His interview can also be found in the video above:

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