It's called a "battle" for the Little Brown Jug for a reason.
After Saturday's contest, it wasn't much of a battle after all. All that was left was the Michigan football team going away quietly into the night.
The Minnesota Golden Gophers(4-1, 1-0) thoroughly embarrassed Michigan (2-3, 0-1) on its home turf 30-14, the second loss in a row for the Wolverines.
Although he was named the starter before the game, sophomore quarterback Shane Morris was replaced early in the fourth quarter for senior Devin Gardner. With the game seemlingly in hand, Gardner led the Wolverines on a 74-yard drive in four plays to score on a three-yard scamper to end the scoring at 30-10.
"I don't think we executed as well and that always comes back to me first as a coach," said Michigan coach Brady Hoke. "We didn't tackle well and that was disappointing. Part of that we needed to leverage the runs a little better, there were too many times that the ball got outside the defense and that's never good for you."
It appeared to be a role reversal for the two squads during the game, a Minnesota team who only mustered seven yards passing a week ago seemingly had an about face and turned it around with a heavy Mitch Leidner. Leidner finished with 167 yards through the air with one touchdown and a 10-yard quarterback keeper that also went for a touchdown.
The Minnesota rushing attack, which was its biggest strength heading into this game, was on display all throughout Saturday's contest. David Cobb, who was third in the conference in rushing, added 183 yards to his total on 32 carries.
For Michigan, it was the complete opposite. Morris, who saw his first game starting at Michigan Stadium, appeared to be not be ready for the game. Finishing with only 49-yards and one interception that went for a touchdown.
"Sometimes we want to point the finger at one guy because he's the quarterback," Hoke said. "I don't think that's fair. I think obviously we have to do a better job. There's some protection things he had to step up in. The interception was a tipped ball at the line of scrimmage that went up in the air."
Whether Morris will keep that job remains to be seen and will be evaluated this week, Hoke said. Although, a potential injury to Morris towards the end of the game could put a damper on those plans. Morris came up a little wobbly in the fourth quarter after a big hit, on top of limping badly, and was replaced with Gardner.
Gardner lost his helmet a few plays later and was forced to leave the game. Morris, who still appeared groggy, was put back into the game.
Although Hoke did not see the initial hit, it was his call to put Morris back into the game. By giving a one-word answer: "Yes."
"I don't know if he might have a concussion or not I don't know that," Hoke said. "Shane's pretty competitive, a tough kid. Shane wanted to be the quarterback. Believe me, if he didn't want to be, he would've come to the sideline and stayed down."
The first quarter went without a blemish for the Wolverines. Michigan would open the scoring in the second quarter with a 10-yard run from De'Veon Smith. Smith, who looked to be Michigan's best back during the game, finished the day 57-yards on nine carries.
After Michigan's first score, it was all Minnesota from that point forward. Rattling off 30-straight points to put the game out of reach towards the end of the third quarter when Leidner threw a one-yard touchdown pass to tight end Maxx Williams.
Williams, who was questionable before the game, finished with four receptions for 51-yards and a touchdown.
The game was also riddled with "fire Brady" and "fire Brandon" chants throughout the game. The sign of the current state of affairs in Michigan Stadium.
Although no one could mistake the audible chanting, Hoke remains the stance that he tunes out the outside noise.
"I didn't hear it," Hoke said. "When you're in the moment, you really don't."
"This is a big boy business."
Odds and Ends
- Freshman defensive back Jabrill Peppers did not play due to a injury suffered in practice. Hoke offered no timetable for a return.
- Junior receiver Devin Funchess also appeared to re-injure his leg late in the fourth quarter, needed to be helped off the field by the athletic trainers.
- Sophomore Delano Hill was also on crutches with his knee in a brace, did not appear on the dress list.