Your Minnesota Golden Gophers have secured The Little Brown Jug with an impressive and dominating win over Michigan. Jerry Kill took the Gophers to The Big House where they controlled the line of scrimmage, kept the Michigan defense on their heels and went on to a 30-14 win.
The Golden Gophers have been not had very much success against Michigan in my lifetime. I was born in 1977 and was technically alive for that season's 16-0 Gopher win. I was barely old enough to remember the 1986 win in Ann Arbor. I do remember the 2005 win, almost as clearly as I remember the 2003 loss in the Metrodome. But those three wins are it. Today was number four for me and this was an impressive one.
We already know that this Gopher defense is pretty good, that became known to more of the Big Ten today. We also know that David Cobb is a really good running back, that was clearly on display this afternoon. What we didn't know was if this offense could have some balance, complete some passes in key situations and move the ball against a Big Ten defense. Today the offense, lead by Mitch Leidner, was just that. As we can see, when this offense has a little bit of balance the entire team is very dangerous.
The first quarter was an exciting affair of punting and ended in a 0-0 tie. Michigan finally seized some momentum and scored the game's first points on a De'Veon Smith 10-yard touchdown run. Up 0-7 I think there was concern that confidence was building for a Michigan offense that has struggled.
But the Gopher offense responded with a 7-play and 72 yard drive. David Cobb was the story for much of the game, but this initial Gopher touchdown drive was all on the shoulders of Mitch Leidner. The sophomore quarterback was 4/5 on the drive and scored on a 10-yard run to tie the game.
Michigan threatened on their following drive but the Gopher defense held, forcing a punt that put the Gophers on their own 1 with 2:38 remaining before halftime. Did we go conservative and be content to go into the half with a 7-7 tie? Not exactly. Minnesota drove 92 yards on 12 plays to set up a Ryan Santoso 25-yard field goal to take a 10-7 lead into the half. The key play was a 21-yard completion to Lincoln Plsek on 3rd and 5 from our own 6. After that the drive belonged to David Cobb who had carries of 8 yards, 14 yards and 11 yards to set up the go-ahead FG.
The third quarter is when things really unraveled for Michigan. They opened the half with the ball but went three-and-out, quickly giving the ball back to Minnesota. The Gophers also quickly punted but pinned Michigan on their own 7. They took their requisite three plays and punted again. This time Minnesota took advantage of the great field position by hitting a career long 48-yard field goal for Santoso giving us a 13-7 lead.
Michigan, of course gets the ball back but the defense wanted to get in on the scoring action. On 2nd and 10 Jack Lynn applied some pressure on Shane Morris, Thieran Cockran tipped the pass and De'Vondre Campbell intercepted the pass and returned it for a touchdown. 20-7 and things were starting to get out of hand. The defense forced a sack-fumble on the next drive. And Mitch Leidner eventually connected with Maxx Williams to give us a 27-7 lead and before the end of the quarter Santoso nailed another field goal to make it 30-7.
In desperation time, Devin Gardner came in and managed one last Michigan touchdown drive but that was it for the Wolverines. The rest of the quarter was just a matter of running out the clock.
Game ball goes to Mitch Leidner today. After really struggling in this first three games he was more than adequate this afternoon. He completed 14/22 passes for 167 yards and a touchdown. That isn't going to win him any awards this week but it was more than enough, it is exactly what we need from him. You don't need a whole lot more when you have a rushing game like we have.
David Cobb gashed the Wolverine defense today for 183 yards on a 5.7 per carry average. This Michigan defense is actually pretty good against the run allowing only 80 yards per game and ranked 3rd in the Big Ten. But David Cobb proved he is one of the best in the conference and looked determined to carry the Gophers to The Little Brown Jug today.
A well-executed game plan is a fun thing to watch. A physical and fast defense that creates turnovers and gets after the quarterback is a fun thing to watch. Beating Michigan and watching the Gophers carry The Little Brown Jug off the field is best thing I've watched in a very long time.