Minnesota lost to Michigan in P.J. Fleck’s first trip to the Big House. With the loss, the Gophers fall to 1-4 in Big Ten play and 4-5 on the season. Unlike previous week’s the defense was the major contributor to the loss as they were unable to defend Michigan’s base running plays.
In the first half, the Gophers’ offense looked more settled than in any week other than Illinois. That does not mean that they played well, merely that they began to look like a more coherent offense. Minnesota incorporated run-pass options, quick pitches, jet sweeps, and a horrible wildcat play to try and confuse the Wolverines. On the Gophers’ second drive all four of those plays worked in tandem with some timely Demry Croft scrambles for a touchdown. For a brief moment it looked like there might be a ball game.
Then Michigan scored two plays later on a 77 yard inside run. Long runs up the middle were a staple of the first half. Not including the one sack, Michigan ran sixteen times for 257 yards and two touchdowns. They also added another touchdown on a misdirection pass to Sean McKeon. Because of a missed PAT, Michigan led at the half 20-7, and it probably should have been more if Michigan had not decided to try at throw the ball a few times. In the second half, Michigan kept up the rushing attacking, finishing with 371 yards. Two different Wolverines rushed for over a 100 yards, the first time that had happened in over 30 years.
Michigan’s defense also put the clamps on Minnesota’s offense. The Wolverines are the best defense the Gophers are going to see all year, and they showed why all game. Minnesota’s offensive line rarely had any significant push, and Demry Croft spent most of the game running because no receivers were open downfield and three Michigan defenders were bearing down on him in the backfield. Unsurprisingly Minnesota’s offensive production reflected the absolute beatdown. After the touchdown drive, the Gophers had five drives with negative yardage.
A garbage time drive ended with a PBU in the endzone and the Gophers settled for a field goal. It felt like a metaphor.