Michigan's Devin Gardner Earns Second Straight Manning Award Player of the Week Honor park
For the second week in a row, Devin Gardner, the junior from the University of Michigan, has been 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 third consecutive career start filling in for the injured Denard Robinson, had a six-touchdown performance (three pass, three rush) to lead the Wolverines to a 42-17 win over the Iowa Hawkeyes in front of 113,016 fans on Senior Day at Michigan Stadium to remain perfect at home.
Amazingly the Detroit product spent the entire season at receiver (collecting 16 catches, including four touchdowns) before stepping into the starting quarterback role three weeks ago with Robinson's injury. On Saturday, he threw for a career-high 314 yards and three scores while also adding 37 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. He is the first Michigan quarterback to account for six touchdowns in a game since Steve Smith accomplished the feat in 1983.
While Gardner handled the quarterback position, Robinson contributed as he ran plays as a running back and wide receiver, leading the team with 98 yards rushing on 13 carries. The Wolverines will travel to Columbus on Saturday, Nov. 24, to conclude the regular season against Ohio State at 11 a.m. CT. The game will be televised on ABC.
Gardner's top competitors in voting this week Tajh Boyd of Clemson and Ryan Aplin of Arkansas State. Coincidentally, Boyd is the only other quarterback to have been named back-to-back Manning Award Player of Week. He completed 30-of-44 passes for 426 yards with five touchdowns and two interceptions. With 102 rushing yards and three scores on the ground, Boyd set school and ACC records with eight touchdowns as he led the Tigers to a 62-48 win over North Carolina State for their first 10-win regular season since 1981.
Aplin completed 28-of-42 passes for 369 yards with four touchdowns and one interception. He added 85 rushing yards to finish with a school-record 454 yards of total offense while setting the Sun Belt career record for passing yards in a 41-34 win over Troy, the Red Wolves' sixth straight victory which keeps them in first place in the Sun Belt Conference.
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).