A new season with a ton of question marks that was set to begin with a ranked opponent on the road had some fans of the No. 18 Michigan Wolverines worried about what they might see on Saturday night. Many of those questions — which included the team’s poise and preparedness — were answered with a 49-24 win over the No. 21 Minnesota Golden Gophers on the Battle for the Little Brown Jug.
Joe Milton’s debut at quarterback for Michigan ended with a stat line of 15-for-22 completions for 225 yards and one touchdown (8 rushes, 52 yard, rush TD), but it was the running game that led the way for the Wolverines with 256 yards and five touchdowns on 31 carries. Michigan’s efforts on the ground were led by Hassan Haskins’ eight rushes for 82 yards and a 70-yard touchdown run from Zach Charbonnet. True freshman Blake Corum had five runs for 24 yards and Chris Evans had another five carries for 19 yard and his first touchdown in two seasons.
Things started out a bit iffy, and somewhat familiar from past games in these situations for the Wolverines. The offense took the field first, but a Blake Corum explosive play was followed by a penalty and some shaky plays from Milton. Then, the Gophers would block a punt and score first on a 14-yard pass from Tanner Morgan to Ko Kieft.
Michigan answered 11 seconds later with a 70-yard touchdown rush from Zach Charbonnet to tie things up at 7-7 less than 2:30 into the game. The third score of the contest came via the Michigan defense after a big hit from Michael Barrett led to a 15-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown from defensive tackle Donovan Jeter. The Gophers would answer with a 29-yard field goal before Michigan scored again on a 8-yard pass from Milton to Ben Mason. The Wolverines led 21-10 at the end of the first quarter.
The Gophers would respond with a 10-play, 75 yard scoring drive early in the second quarter capped off by a 16-yard Mohamed Ibrahim run to cut Michigan’s lead to 21-17. Hassan Haskins scored a pair of touchdowns in the final five minutes of the half to give the Wolverines a 35-17 lead heading into the locker room.
Minnesota drove right down the field on the first possession of the second half and went 11 plays for 71 yards in 5:20 and scored a touchdown on a 5-yard run from Ibrahim. The Wolverines would again answer right back with a nine-play, is 68-yard drive capped off by a 2-yard run by Milton and led 42-24 after three quarters.
Following a drive where Minnesota was unable to score on fourth and goal, the Wolverines would extend their lead even further to 49-24 on Chris Evans’ first touchdown in two seasons after a five-play, 96 yard drive.
Next up for the Wolverines is a rivalry showdown with the Michigan State Spartans at home next weekend. Those Spartans are coming off of a 38-27 loss to Rutgers at home, which was the Scarlet Knights’ first conference win since 2017.