But instead of the offense getting the spark it needed, it sputtered, and frankly, never left the garage, as the Wolverines lost to Minnesota 30-14, losing the Little Brown Jug rivalry trophy for the first time since 2005.
“We’re very disappointed in how we played football today,” Michigan coach Brady Hoke said afterwards. “I don’t think when you look at different aspects of his game, I don’t think we played as well as we can. I don’t think we executed as well. That always comes back to me first as a coach.”
To be fair, the offense hasn’t been great all year. And in its two power five non-conference losses to Notre Dame and Utah, the offense failed to enter their opponents red zone or score an offensive touchdown.
Today, the Wolverines had a little more offensive success -- but not much.
After a scoreless first quarter, Michigan (2-3, 0-1 Big Ten) scored on a 10-yard touchdown run by De’Veon Smith to give U-M the 7-0 lead with 11 minutes remaining in the first half. The Gophers quickly answered with a seven play 72 yard drive, and scored on quarterback Matt Leidner’s 10-yard run to tie the game at 7-7. Minnesota would add a 24-yard Ryan Santoso as time expired in the first half.
“I think from an offensive standpoint, we struggled in a lot of different areas,” Hoke said. “I think De’Veon had some nice runs earlier in the football game. But we struggled in different areas at times.”
Leidner, who was game day decision, completed 14-of-22 passes, for 167 yards and totaled two touchdowns on the day. Gopher running back David Cobb ran for 183-yards on 32 carries, with a game high 34-yard run early in the first quarter.
Against Minnesota (4-1, 1-0 Big Ten), Morris completed 7-of-19 passes for 49 yards and one interception that led to a Gopher 30 yard touchdown. He did, however, lead Michigan on one scoring drive, although it was all on four Smith running plays.
Minnesota took full control of the game on a tipped Morris pass that was intercepted by De’Vondre Campbell, who returned it 30-yards to give the Gophers a 20-7 lead. Morris would fumble on Michigan’s next dive, and Minnesota would go 30-yards in five plays, to make the score 27-7.
The Gophers would add a second Santoso field goal with over 12 minutes to make the socre 30-7.
The Minnesota win snaps Michigan's six game win streak in the series. U-M had won 22 of the 23 in the rivalry.
Fifth-year senior quarterback Devin Gardner would replace Morris with over 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter. It appeared as if Morris suffered an head injury on a late hit.
Gardner was able to rally Michigan for a 12 play, 74 yard touchdown drive, capping the drive with a 3 yard touchdown run, to make the score 30-14. The Wolverines would never threaten again.
“I still feel this team can win the [Big Ten] championship,” Hoke said. “I really do.”
Michigan next plays at Rutgers (4-1, 0-1 Big Ten) next Saturday at 7 p.m.