Heartbreak against Michigan is nothing new for the Gophers.
But this one takes the cake.
The Gophers shed aside all their insecurities and played a tremendous game — for three quarters. Then the roof caved in and Michigan played like Michigan and Minnesota reverted to Minnesota form.
By the time it was over, Minnesota had lost a 38-35 decision after squandering a 28-7 lead after three quarters.
Minnesota's ground game was absolutely magnificent. It ran over the Wolverines as if they were wearing Tulsa or Buffalo jerseys and not the maize and blue of Michigan. Minnesota overwhelmed Michigan with 424 rushing yards.
When the fourth quarter started, however, Michigan found new life. Chris Perry scored on a 10-yard pass from John Navarre and the Gophers took the field with a 14-point lead and a "milk the clock" mentality. That never came to fruition as the Michigan defensive line harassed Asad Abdul-Khaliq and the quarterback threw an ill-advised interception to Jacob Stewart, who returned it 35 yards for a score with 13:30 left.
But five plays later, it looked like the Gophers had regained control. On a third-and-1 call from the Minnesota 48, Abdul-Khaliq found a hole on the option play and burst into the open. He scored on a 52-yard run to push the lead to 35-21 lead. That was basically the last good thing that happened to the Gophers.
Minnesota's pass defense was helpless against Navarre. He threw a long TD pass to Braylon Edwards and then Perry tied it up with a 10-yard run at the 5:48 mark.
Minnesota responded with a three-and-out, and Michigan drove for the game-winning field goal.
The Gopher locker room was tearful and silent. The players must find a way to rally from this painful loss, but it won't be easy.
"I don't think the tears will stop until we come in for practice on Tuesday," Abdul-Khaliq said. "We put so much into this game. We were so prepared and ready."
GAME BALL GOES TO: RB Marion Barber — Even in defeat, the Minnesota running game was dominant. Barber had 197 of the Gophers 424 yards on the ground and scored his 14th TD of the year on a 20-yard run in the first quarter.
KEEP YOUR EYE ON: Head coach Glen Mason — How well can he rally the team after this demoralizing defeat? The Gophers have a tough home game this week with resurgent Michigan State, ranked 15th. Will they be prepared or will they still be wallowing in self pity?
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We played very hard. At times our play left a lot to be desired, but the effort was there. You just wish the outcome was different." — Minnesota head coach Glen Mason.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
LOOKING GOOD: The team ran the ball all over the field. It was a smorgasbord of great runners as Marion Barber (197 yards), Asad Abdul-Khaliq (106 yards) and Laurence Maroney (81 yards) all torched the Wolverines.
STILL NEEDS SOME WORK: Minnesota played hard and with emotion, but the team lacked poise in the fourth quarter. Undefeated going into the game, the Gophers played their hearts out for 45 minutes before collapsing in the fourth. The knock on Minnesota — not being able to beat the upper division teams in the Big Ten — continues.
INJURY IMPACT: No new injuries were reported.
Ready for rebound
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