MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The Michigan Wolverines had every reason to
exact some revenge.
After watching the Gophers storm their sideline a year ago,
snatch the Little Brown Jug, and plant their flag in The Big House
turf, there was plenty of incentive to do the same at the Metrodome
after a 28-14 victory over Minnesota on Saturday night.
Admit it: You had no idea who Mario Manningham was before the season started. And why would you? He wasn't on the national Heisman radar. Heck, he wasn't even given top-3 billing on his own team, with the presence of Chad Henne, Mike Hart and Steve Breaston. But with the Wolverines now 5-0 and once again a player in the BCS picture, isn't time Super Mario gets his due (and some Heisman hype)? Here's a snapshot of Manningham's numbers in '06.
The Wolverines' celebration was much more subdued -- and the
statement that came with it was much more powerful.
They expect to win this game every time.
Chad Henne got the sixth-ranked Wolverines off to a fast start
with three touchdown passes in the first half and the Michigan
seniors calmly walked over and picked up the oldest rivalry trophy
in college football as if they'd never lost it at all.
"There's been some issues where kids who are emotional
sometimes do things that later they regret or wish they hadn't
done," coach Lloyd Carr said. "I didn't want any issue after that
game. I don't think any of us did."
Henne was 17-for-24 for 284 yards and Mike Hart ran for 195
yards -- 54 on his final carry of the game -- for the Wolverines
(5-0, 2-0 Big Ten), who looked as though they would blow the game
open early but let the Gophers (2-3, 0-2) hang around with a
sluggish performance in the second half.
Bryan Cupito threw for 215 yards and two touchdowns to Logan
Payne for the Gophers, who came into the game with the jug in hand
for the first time in 20 years.
"You don't ever know how much you miss something until it's
gone," Hart said. "It hurt because Michigan does not lose the
Still smarting from their first loss to Minnesota since 1986,
the Wolverines reclaimed what has been theirs for so much of jug's
103-year history. In the 89 games the Gophers and Michigan have
played for the five-gallon jug, the Wolverines have won 64 times,
dating to 1903.
"Our kids, they played their tails off," Gophers coach Glen
Mason said. "If that's not good enough for anybody, then too bad.
It's good enough for me."
It was a little payback for Michigan, which was still haunted by
visions of the Gophers' spirited celebration last season.
"That was Lloyd Carr's call," cornerback Leon Hall said of the
understated approach. "He mentioned how we want to take it
respectful. Either way, we got it back."
Michigan did its talking on the field, driving 80 yards for a
score on their opening possession. The mammoth offensive line
overpowered Minnesota's smallish defensive front, mostly running
Hart off left tackle for big gains.
Henne capped the drive by hitting Adrian Arrington for a 16-yard
TD pass on third-and-10. Henne hooked up with Arrington again early
in the second on a 37-yard score to make it 14-0.
Cupito's 21-yard TD to Payne in the second quarter cut the
deficit in half, but it took the Wolverines less than 4½ minutes to
With the Gophers unable to stop the Wolverines rushing attack,
defensive coordinator David Lockwood had no choice but to move his
safeties up to help out. That left the Minnesota cornerbacks
one-on-one with Michigan's receivers.
Mario Manningham blazed past Jamal Harris on a post and hauled
in a 41-yard touchdown pass from Henne to make it 21-7. Harris
dived at Manningham's ankles just before the ball arrived, but
wound up with a mouthful of turf as Manningham, who had five
catches for 131 yards, celebrated in the end zone.
But the Wolverines were awfully sluggish in the final 30
minutes, squandering a first-and-goal from the 3 when Garrett Rivas
missed a 23-yard field goal wide left.
Minnesota moved the ball reasonably well against Michigan's
powerful defense, which came into the game No. 1 in the nation
allowing just 18.5 yards rushing per game.
Amir Pinnix had 91 of the Gophers' 108 rushing yards, but they
had a touchdown pass in the third quarter called back by a holding
penalty among several missed opportunities.
"We ran hard," Mason said. "We knew we had to slug and bite
and fight for every inch. Because that's the type of defense they
are. And that's what we did."
Down 28-7 with just under 5:30 to play, Cupito hit Payne for
another 21-yarder that cut the deficit to 28-14.
The Gophers recovered the onside kick, but Cupito's pass on
fourth-and-goal from the 7 was incomplete, and Michigan closed it
out on the ground.
"It was frustrating," Cupito said. "But we just have to play
that way every week and we'll be all right."