Michigan's Devin Gardner Earns Manning Award Player of the Week Honor park
Devin Gardner becomes the second University of Michigan quarterback this year to be selected as the Manning Award Player of the Week. Gardner collected more fan votes than seven other Manning Award Stars of the Week in the Allstate Sugar Bowl's Facebook contest.
Gardner, making his second career start filling in for the injured Denard Robinson, led the Wolverines to a 38-31 overtime victory over nationally-ranked Northwestern to keep the Wolverines in the mix for the Big Ten Legends Division title. The junior connected on 16-of-29 passes for 286 yards and a pair of TDs in the victory; his biggest play came in the final seconds as he connected with Roy Roundtree on a 53-yard pass to set up the game-tying field goal with two seconds to go in regulation. Then in overtime, Gardner ran for his second touchdown of the game to clinch the critical victory.
Amazingly the Detroit product spent the entire season at receiver (collecting 16 catches, including four touchdowns) before stepping into the starting quarterback role two weeks ago with Robinson's injury. Robinson status remains up in the air for this weekend's game against Iowa, meaning Gardner could get another opportunity to lead Michigan in its quest for a Big Ten Championship.
Gardner's top competitors in voting this week were Johnny Manziel from Texas A&M and Marcus Mariota from Oregon. Manziel, the sensational freshman standout, passed for 253 yards and two touchdowns while running for 92 yards to lead the Aggies to a thrilling 29-24 upset of top-ranked Alabama. Mariota, another star freshman, threw for 377 yards and six touchdowns as the Ducks extended the longest current winning streak in college football with a 59-17 blowout of Cal on the road.
The Manning Award was created by the Allstate Sugar Bowl in 2004 to honor the college football accomplishments of Archie, Peyton and Eli Manning. It is the only quarterback award that includes the candidates' bowl performances in its balloting.
The honor will be recognizing its ninth winner this year. USC's Matt Leinart was the inaugural winner of the award in 2005, followed by Texas' Vince Young in 2006. Both went on to be top 10 NFL draft picks. In 2007, LSU's JaMarcus Russell earned the award and was the NFL's No. 1 draft pick. Boston College's Matt Ryan claimed the award in 2008 and was drafted No. 3, quickly becoming the starting uarterback for the Atlanta Falcons. In 2009, Florida star Tim Tebow earned the honor – he also went on to be selected in the first round of the NFL Draft. The 2010 winner was Texas signal-caller Colt McCoy, the winningest quarterback in college football history, who was selected by the Cleveland Browns in the draft. Auburn's Cameron Newton earn the award in 2011, prior to being selected No. 1 overall in the 2011 NFL Draft by the Carolina Panthers. This past season's honoree was Robert Griffin, III, from Baylor, who was also a top NFL draft pick (No. 2 overall by the Washington Redskins).