Jesse Johnson, USA TODAY

Michigan defense stands tall, stuffs Golden Gophers 29-26

The U-M defense stood tall as Halloween night of frights end in a heart-stopping 29-26 victory over Minnesota.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Halloween is a night full of heart-stopping frights and costumes. For Michigan, Wilton Speight's costume was in the form of a starting quarterback while the U-M (6-2, 3-1 Big Ten) defense played the heart-stopping spoilers in its final second 29-26 victory over Minnesota to secure the Little Brown Jug once again.

The storyline of the game was the decision-making of Minnesota (4-4, 1-3 Big Ten) interim head coach Tracy Claeys during the final drive. What was originally called a touchdown on a near-perfect throw by Golden Gopher quarterback Mitch Leidner that was later called short, the Golden Gophers kept the clock running and wasted valuable seconds by audibling into a shotgun formation. Leidner's pass was later incomplete.

On the very next play, Minnesota elected to not go for the game-tying chip shot with two seconds left and went for a quarterback sneak. If the U-M defense needed one play to step up, it was this one.

It did and the Wolverines came away victorious. What a way to erase the bad taste left in its mouth from a couple weeks ago.

The other storyline that played a major role was Speight filling in for U-M quarterback Jake Rudock. Rudock took a nasty hit to head which removed his helmet. Rudock had to leave the game and never came back in despite emerging from the locker room and throwing warm-up passes on the sideline.

Speight struggled when he first came in but redeemed himself mightily leading the Wolverines on a seven play, 40-yard drive late in the fourth quarter that finished with a 12-yard touchdown strike to Jehu Chesson, his second of the day, and a two-point conversion pass that put the Wolverines up 29-26.

A usually stout U-M defense did not play like itself outside of the final play of the game. The Golden Gopers outgained U-M 496-296, led by Leidner who finished the game with 317 yards, one touchdown pass and added another on the ground.

The Wolverines will play Rutgers on November 7 at Michigan Stadium.

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