The Little Brown Jug was in Huntington Bank Stadium for about 4 hours on Saturday night, and it won’t be back for quite a while. Minnesota barely put up a whimper as the Michigan Wolverines dominated the Gophers early and often en route to a 52-10 win. Michigan moves to 6-0 on the season while the Gophers fall to 3-3 and get a bye week to lick their wounds.
Michigan won the toss and deferred and their offense had a 7-0 lead by the time they even touched the field after Minnesota’s first two drives. On the second play of the game Athan Kaliakmanis overthrew a Minnesota receiver badly for would would end up as a 39 yard pick six by Michigan’s Will Johnson.
Minnesota second drive got off to a good start on a long run by Bryce Williams, and then what appeared to be another, but it was brought back due to an illegal shift penalty. The Gophers gained back a few yards on second down before a Kaliakmanis incompletion on third where he was flushed out of the pocket and did not see a wide open Corey Crooms, Jr down the middle of the field. Minnesota punted and the Wolverine offense went to work.
The Gophers had a chance to stop the Wolverines after a great third down stop by Darius Green on third and short, but the Wolverines went for it on fourth down and Maverick Baranowski was easily beat by Michigan’s Kalel Mullings who J J McCarthy found for 13 yards on 4th and 1. After Michigan got to the Gophers 15, Minnesota was bailed out by a Wolverine drop on third down that forced a 31 yard field goal which gave the Wolverines a 10-0 halfway through the opening quarter.
Back to back Zach Evans runs advanced Minnesota across midfield for the first time in the game the next drive. After it appeared the drive was going to stall again, Athan escaped the intense Michigan rush and found Bryce Williams on a dump off for five yards on third and two to keep it alive.
Unfortunately once again the drive would stall. Evans was smothered for a loss of four yards, Athan’s pass to a wide open Daniel Jackson was tipped at the line and fell short, and on third and long Athan scrambled back to the original line of scrimmage.
Minnesota brought in Dragan Kesich to try a 54 yard field goal and he drilled it to cut the Wolverine lead to 10-3. The 54 yard field goal is the longest ever kicked at Huntington Bank Stadium, is tied for the 5th longest in program history and the longest since 2007 when Joel Monroe kicked a 54 yard field goal against Iowa.
Minnesota’s defense finally would step up and force a Wolverine punt on the next drive, and Minnesota took over on their own 12 as the first quarter came to a close with Gophers down just a touchdown at 10-3. A Nathan Boe holding penalty on first down set the Gophers back far enough that they could never recover and it was a quick three and out for the Gophers.
A good punt by Crawford that featured a missed running into the kicker call by the officials was quickly forgotten as Baranowski missed an easy tackle on Blake Corum who then took it upfield for 40 yards to the Minnesota 22. It would take the Wolverines five more plays, but Corum would get into the end zone on a one yard run to give Michigan a 17-3 lead with 10:08 left in the second quarter.
The Gopher offense continued to look hapless on offense as they lost yards on all three plays of their next drive—a COMPLETED pass for -1, a run up the middle by Evans for -1, and then a sack of Kaliakmanis which forced the Gophers to punt for the third time in the first 24 minutes of the game.
The Gopher defense looked exhausted on the next drive as Michigan went four plays and 67 yards in just over two minutes including a 49 yard pass that ended with a McCarthy five yard run where he broke a pair of Gopher tackles and dove into the end zone. It was 24-3 Wolverines and the rout was completely on.
Minnesota moved the ball to midfield but after three straight runs Minnesota showed no urgency to score and ran the clock down as far as possible taking their final time out with 22 seconds left in the half as boos ran down from the home crowd. Minnesota faced a 4th and 2 from the Michigan 40 and would get the first down on a Williams run after the timeout. After clocking the ball Kaliakmanis found Daniel Jackson streaking down the right sideline throwing a perfect ball for a touchdown with six seconds left in the half to cut the Wolverine lead to 24-10. Michigan would take a knee to end the half after the kick and the teams headed to the locker room.
Michigan dominated the half recording 213 yards to Minnesota’s 122. Athan was 5-11 for 52 yards and the 35 yard TD to Jackson. McCarthy was 8-10 for 124 yards with another 10 on the ground including his five yard TD run. Blake Corum had 60 yards at halftime, averaging 8.6 yards per carry bolstered by his long of 40, while Williams went for 37 and Evans 35 yard each with average yards per carry of just over 4.
Michigan took the kick to open the third quarter and quickly went three and out in under a minute firing up the Gopher crowd. The opportunity was there for the Gophers to seize the momentum and get back into the game. That didn’t happen. The Gophers promptly put up their own three and out and punted the ball back to the Wolverines and along with it any spark the crowd had.
Minnesota had a chance to stop the ensuing Wolverine drive and get their defense off the field again, but on third and seven from the Michigan 25 McCarthy found a wide open Roman Wilson for 17 yards and the Wolverines kept marching down the field. McCarthy would punch it it for his second TD run of the night from seven yards out to make it 31-10 with 8:28 left in the 3rd quarter and the Gophers fans began their exodus from the stadium.
The next Gopher drive again failed due to their own doings—a holding penalty on Brevyn Span-Ford, a dropped pass by Daniel Jackson and an interior offensive line that couldn’t block the little sisters of the poor resulting in another sack of Athan. Another punt and even more fans headed for the exits.
Michigan just toyed with the exhausted Gopher defense going six plays and 49 yards in just over three minutes finishing with a 24 yard McCarthy pass to Colston Loveland for a touchdown. On the play Anthony Smith picked up a roughing the passer penalty for falling on McCarthy. Yes, falling. It was 38-10 and only the diehard Gopher fans and Michigan fans were left.
Next drive—another Athan Pick 6 thrown directly to the player in the white jersey. 45-10 Wolverines. Still the third quarter. Minnesota only had seven yards of offense in the quarter as the Wolverines outscored them 21-0.
The fourth quarter was basically played with Michigan’s second string against the Gophers starters. To no surprise it continued to go poorly for Minnesota. Mercifully Michigan mostly kept the ball on the ground and the clock moving. The final embarrassing kicker was the Wolverines back up quarterback running for 18 yards on 3rd and 17 from the Gopher 20. Just an embarrassment in the second half all around. The ensuing touchdown would make the score 52-10 which would be the final.
Athan was 0-5 in the second half completing only a pass to the Wolverines.
Thankfully Minnesota had their bye week to try and figure something, anything out before they head to what appears to be a very beatable Iowa team on October 21st.