It was stressful. It was infuriating at times. It was Halloween and it was downright scary.
Michigan (6-2, 3-1 B1G) was able to hold off Minnesota's (4-4, 1-3 B1G) last second charge -- literally -- and stuff the Gophers on the goalline to secure a wild win and bring the Little Brown Jug back to Ann Arbor.
Let's get to the takeaways:
Riding the Emotional Storm
The Gophers came out and played hard in honor of retired head coach Jerry Kill, as many expected them to do. They were an inspired team on Saturday evening and even seemed as if they had a bit of magic on their side as well. Nearly tipped or intercepted passes were being completed on Michigan's defense, which is one of the best in college football.
Michigan looked flustered after a fast start to the game, but they were able to keep their emotions in check and ride out the adversity. Jake Rudock left the game after taking a big hit on what absolutely should have been a targeting call. Facing a deficit and having to play the rest of the game with Wilton Speight at quarterback was the nail in the coffin.
Until it wasn't.
After missing on his first three passes, Speight and the Wolverines put a nice drive together that started in Minnesota territory where they eventually took the lead. Speight's touchdown throw was an excellent one and the two point conversion was just as good.
The Michigan defense was still leaky on that final drive and even surrendered what would have been the go-ahead touchdown for Minnesota, until it was called back at the one-yard line.
Rather than playing for the field goal, the Gophers elected to go for the win and the touchdown and the Wolverines were having none of it. DJ Durkin sniffed out the QB sneak and Leidner was unable to break the plane of the goal line.
Minnesota interim head coach Tracy Claeys is getting a lot of grief for not playing for the tie, but he made the right decision. It was a nonstop wave of emotions and they had come that far, so why not ride it out? If you can't score from one-yard out, you don't deserve to win. It's as simple as that.
In year's past, when the wheels fell off for Michigan they'd do so in a big way. It looked as if it may have been heading that direction about halfway through the third quarter, but they regrouped and gutted through that game and earned a victory. Hats off to Jim Harbaugh and company for how mentally tough this team has become and not melting down two weeks after the loss to Michigan State.
Don't Panic About the Defense
Michigan's defense has been downright suffocating all season long, so a 461 yard outburst in one game for now looks to be the exception to the rule. Add in the fact it was a road game in a unique and emotional environment and it is not all that hard to see what happened.
They didn't play well, but Minnesota also had the football gods on their side with some fortunate chunk plays. Give all the credit to the Gophers for playing their hearts out and executing offensively. Michigan gave up a ton of yards, but did a nice job preventing them from finishing off drives and settling for field goals.
In every season, whether it's of the undefeated or 6-6 variety, there's always a game that you escape with a victory despite having a ton go against you. For now, I'm chalking this one up as that for the Wolverines.
Quarterback Picture Painted Clearer
We've dealt with a ton of hypotheticals this season on what would happen should Rudock go down to injury, which is the only scenario where he'd not be on the field.
We saw that play out on Saturday when Rudock missed most of the second half due to injury. It was Speight, not Shane Morris who came off the bench in relief and it's much more than just not wanting to burn a redshirt.
Morris just isn't good enough. Harbaugh confirmed after the game Speight is the number-two quarterback.
We have seen Michigan burn redshirts for Karan Higdon, Tyree Kinnel and Grant Newsome because the staff wants its best possible players on the field at all times. If Morris was one of them, he'd have come in to the game.
We can close the book on that the rest of this season.
Jabrill Peppers is Michigan's MVP
Jourdan Lewis has been Michigan's best player all season, but nobody is as valuable as Jabrill Peppers is. Not only has he been great in the secondary, but his play on special teams in the return game has been outstanding. The Wolverines have been efficient offensively because they are starting drives in favorable spots and a lot of that credit goes to Peppers flipping the field.
We are starting to see him get involved in the offense, too. Peppers scored his first career touchdown out of the wildcat in the win on Saturday. You want to keep him as fresh as possible, but he is simply too good of an athlete to not look for every opportunity to put the ball in his hands. Michigan should continue to incorporate Peppers whenever they can.