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Posted on Fri, Nov 26, 2010 : 2:28 p.m.

A rivalry within the rivalry: Ohio State's Terrelle Pryor vs. Michigan's Denard Robinson

By Pete Bigelow


Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor is sixth in the Big Ten with an average of 211.9 passing yards per game and has thrown 23 touchdown passes.

Associated Press

In his first months in Ann Arbor, one of Rich Rodriguez’s priorities was finding a quarterback to run his spread offense with the Michigan football team.

He failed.

In a decision that presaged The Decision, marquee prospect Terrelle Pryor signed with Ohio State instead of Michigan after a much-ballyhooed courtship. One year later, Rodriguez signed Tate Forcier and Denard Robinson.

The ramifications from that sequence are endless.

Had Rodriguez inked Pryor, he insists he would have still recruited Robinson the following year.

But Saturday’s annual matchup between Michigan and Ohio State (12:03 p.m., ABC) would surely be different. The game might feature a maize-and-blue-clad Pryor against former minor league baseball player and current OSU backup Joe Bauserman.

Robinson, entranced by the possibility he’d play early at Michigan, might be at Central Florida or Florida.

Instead, he’ll lead the Wolverines (7-4 overall, 3-4 Big Ten) into Columbus against a Buckeye team that has won six consecutive games in the rivalry, as well as eight of the past nine. While they both fall under the umbrella of the spread quarterback label, Robinson will take the field with an offense that looks markedly different than the one Pryor might have run at Michigan.

“Both of them are a little bit different,” said Wisconsin’s Bret Bielema, the only Big Ten coach to beat both of them this season. “Ohio State really isn’t a hurried-up pace. They just kind of take it as you are and mix in some very traditional formations.”

And the Wolverines?

“Michigan is totally spread with very few traditional formations,” Bielema said. “Robinson, I think it’s probably decisions are made for him and he just executes the plan, where Terrelle has a little freedom out there.”

When it comes to throwing the football, the results are similar.

Pryor ranks sixth in the Big Ten with an average of 211.9 passing yards per game, completing 65.7 percent of his passes while throwing 23 touchdowns to 10 interceptions.

Robinson ranks seventh in the conference, averaging 202.6 passing yards per game, completing 63.4 percent of his passes while throwing 16 TDs and 10 interceptions.

But there’s no comparison when it comes to their rushing ability. Robinson leads the country with 1,538 rushing yards, averages 6.8 yards per run and has scored 14 rushing TDs.

Pryor, on the other hand, has run 108 times for 590 yards. “He doesn’t run much, but he runs when he has to,” Rodriguez said. “He has been very effective in some tight ball games. He’s a great athlete and no question the leader of that offensive unit.”

Since losing against Wisconsin, Pryor and the Buckeyes (10-1, 6-1) have won four straight. On the season, they’ve won all seven of their home games.

A win puts the Buckeyes in contention for their latest BCS berth and would give them at least a share of the Big Ten title for the sixth straight year.

A win for the Wolverines might not only improve their bowl standing, but it could mean that, in the end, Pryor’s choice of Ohio State over Michigan helped set up a classic rivalry within the rivalry.

“Everyone is so surprised because Robinson is so young, and just how he’s matured,” Illinois coach Ron Zook said. “We all expected Terrelle to have the year he’s having. But Denard’s just a guy that can take a game over - as can Terrelle.”

Pete Bigelow covers Michigan football for He can be reached at (734) 623-2556, via e-mail at and followed on Twitter @PeterCBigelow.



Sat, Nov 27, 2010 : 4:24 p.m.

How can it be a "rivalry" when Michigan lost the last 7 against Ohio state? Michigan sucks!

3 And Out

Sat, Nov 27, 2010 : 3:52 p.m.

the offense will be hanging by one of those old time toilet chains next year...

Sean T.

Sat, Nov 27, 2010 : 3:37 p.m.

But isn't it always next year?


Sat, Nov 27, 2010 : 10:38 a.m.

Our offense is going to be "off the chain" next year be patient my babies


Sat, Nov 27, 2010 : 8:59 a.m.

Okay tater, knock it off with the "OSU pays their athletes" thing. I still remember Chris Webber... This is going to be a much closer game than people think. My Buckeyes are a good team, not a great team. Michigan has a dynamic offense, and if they can score more than 28 points, they can pull off the upset. Less then 28 points, OSU wins. All in all, this will be a great game, and OSU will not cover the exaggerated 18 point spread. Congrats on going to a bowl game, Michigan fans. I know many of you are frustrated, but I do believe your program is headed in the right direction. You are only a couple of players away from being a dominant team.


Sat, Nov 27, 2010 : 3:38 a.m.

It doesn't matter what would happen if Denard ran a 4.65 40... because he doens't. And I really feel bad for all you tools who talk about "8 yard passes". You've watched the games, I know you have. You've seen plenty of long passes by Denard. I know why you don't like him at QB. It's because he's black and doesn't fit your archaic stereotype for a QB. Well, too bad. Because he's going to be Michigan's QB for the next 2 years after this one. Bo Schembechler used black QBs with running ability. You think Michael Taylor or Demitrius Brown were better passers than Denard?

Sean T.

Sat, Nov 27, 2010 : 3:17 a.m.

Dusty, Denard is fast and that's about it. Tossing around his gaudy stats whom primarily was against weak programs is just fitting for "apologists". If we get behind by more than a couple of scores late in the game we're in trouble. He hasn't shown that he can pass deep nor is he accurate while throwing in coverage. We've been blessed that our WR's were able to take a "8 yard in route" for large gains. I believe he's exciting but he's not even the best passer on the team. I'd rather have his rushing and passing stats in reverse because the team would be better for it. Be honest, if Denard ran a 4.65 forty do you think that he would start or even play QB? Are you confident enough in his arm that you believe we would have 7 wins this season?


Sat, Nov 27, 2010 : 2:21 a.m.

@3 And Out, you know what I like about your comments? Your avatar. That's all. As long as you keep using it, please keep posting. I am not going to read your comments anymore. You don't know football well enough. Now Dusty knows football.

3 And Out

Sat, Nov 27, 2010 : 1:17 a.m.

lol well that is not going to happen and it is soooo sad to see the RR koolaid drinkers have to continue to take shots at Lloyd Carr who went 122-40 with 5 BT and one NC and did it with class an honor, and also take shots at Jim Harbaugh who has built a dominant program up from scratch at Stanford and was an All American QB at Michigan, 3rd in the Heisman in 86... that is sad to see...but Im guessing that a lot of you guys that take those shots at these 2 Michigan Legends as part of your twisted "support for " the loser Rich Rodriguez... are most likely age 23 or under and have not seen a lot of great Michigan football in your day.


Sat, Nov 27, 2010 : 12:42 a.m.

If Rich Rod wins tomorrow, he will have made up for EVERYTHING that went wrong over the past three years. If he wins once against Jim Tressel, that is better than Lloyd Carr in my book.


Sat, Nov 27, 2010 : midnight

gonna shock the country tomorrow, but even then, nobody will be happy..would hate to go through life with such will rise up tomorrow then move on to their bowl game and win that big..9 victories is a good number to start with going into next year...richrod has finally got this team going in the right direction, plus the D will be loads better next blue

Macabre Sunset

Fri, Nov 26, 2010 : 9:54 p.m.

I don't see any personal rivalry. It's not like Robinson has to tackle Pryor. It's Michigan versus Ohio State, period. Funny, though, that Rodriguez seems to know nothing about Big Ten football. Pryor has accumulated 108 carries, or almost 10 per game. That's huge for a quarterback, especially one who has been limited much of the season with an injury affecting his mobility. Sometimes I wonder if Rodriguez is even in the room when they study other teams' offenses. Oh, well. Tomorrow is his last day as Michigan coach. The nightmare nears its end.


Fri, Nov 26, 2010 : 9:49 p.m.

The sad truth is, I can't sit in front of the tube and watch OSU pummel UM again. Even my Buck acquaintances feel sorry for us. That's the ultimate humiliation. So I'll be shooting hoops and waiting for someone to tell me when it's over. And then I'll hope for good news on Monday that the RichRod experiment is over.

3 And Out

Fri, Nov 26, 2010 : 8:12 p.m.

whatever. 15-20 overall with 2 of those wins vs. DII teams. 6-18 after tomorrow in the Big Ten. Highest BT finish will be no higher than 7th place. 0-12 after tomorrow vs. teams with winning records in the BT. 0-3 vs. Sparty, PSU, OSU after tomorrow etc etc etc....keep spinning useless stats, but your coach is a failure.


Fri, Nov 26, 2010 : 7:33 p.m.

Denard holds the top 4 slots on Michigan's highest single-game total offense list, and 6 of the top 7... and he's only started 11 games. Right now he has the 13th most passing yards and 13th in TD passes in a season at Michigan... with two games left (bowl games count now and every one of the top 12 had bowl games included). Not bad for a kid who "can't pass", hm? Right now he's 21st on the list of CAREER passing yards at Michigan. CAREER, 21st. Also not bad for a kid who "can't pass." Oh, and he's also holding the 6th most rushing yards in a season by a Michigan player... 24 behind Mike Hart's best year. Not bad for a QB. Oh, and don't bother with the "oh, but he runs so much", because his average per rush this year is a full yard ahead of number 2. And on top of it all... he's as humble as anyone you ever heard of, and the very definition of "team player".


Fri, Nov 26, 2010 : 7:17 p.m.

"RR originally had committs from Shavodrick Beaver (now at Tulsa) and Kevin Newsome (now at PSU) in that class along with Tate Forcier. Had both of those kids not decommitted...then he would not have went after Denard Robinson and D Rob would have ended up at Florida. It is an amazing thing that a failure actually lead to the biggest success of the Rich Rod Error at Michigan: Finding D Rob. " What makes you think Newsome wouldn't have been as good as D Rob had he learned the offense from a spread guru like Rich Rod and not the Galen Hall at PSU? 7 players in the history of major college football have run for 200 yards and passed for 200 yards in the same game. Rich Rod was the coach of 3 of them. You think that's a coincidence?


Fri, Nov 26, 2010 : 7:13 p.m.

sean T, that's the stupidest thing I've read all day. And that's saying something. Pryor's sophomore year he had a passer rating of 128, with 18 TDs and 11 INTs. And that was after starting 2/3 of the season the year before, so he had plenty of experience in the offense. Robinson's sophomore year, right now, he has a 158 passer rating, with 16 TDs and 10 INTs (with one game left). That's good for 16th in the nation right now, and he only threw about 30 passes total last year. Who is the better passer again (at this point in their careers) again?


Fri, Nov 26, 2010 : 6:10 p.m.

Pryor vs. Robinson is irrelevant and the wrong match-up. The OSU offense is almost as good as ours statistically. The two teams are pretty close in terms of total offense (5,700 vs 5,000 yards). That may be surprising to those of us that think we have this incredibly powerful offense. It doesn't really matter who carries the ball as long as you get the results. The real matchup is the OSU defense which is twice as good as ours (2,600 yards vs. 5,000). And on net yards, OSU has a better than 3 to 1 advantage (2,400 yards vs. 700 yards). That's why OSU is favored by 17. And that's the way it is.

3 And Out

Fri, Nov 26, 2010 : 5:23 p.m.

RR originally had committs from Shavodrick Beaver (now at Tulsa) and Kevin Newsome (now at PSU) in that class along with Tate Forcier. Had both of those kids not decommitted...then he would not have went after Denard Robinson and D Rob would have ended up at Florida. It is an amazing thing that a failure actually lead to the biggest success of the Rich Rod Error at Michigan: Finding D Rob.

Sean T.

Fri, Nov 26, 2010 : 5:11 p.m.

Like many of us Michigan fans, I wanted Pryor to be a Wolverine but he made the right decision. Denard isn't a good passer even in comparison to Pryor who has horrible mechanics. I would rather have a QB who breaks a record for passing because other players will be on the receiving end. Than have a QB who breaks a record for rushing which means very little in terms of the team playing well.