Recap: Minnesota vs. Michigan
Minneapolis, MN (Sports Network) - Devin Gardner filled in for an injured Denard Robinson and accounted for three touchdowns to lead the Michigan Wolverines to a 35-13 win over the Minnesota Golden Gophers at TCF Bank Stadium to retain the Little Brown Jug.
Robinson, who had started the previous 34 games for Michigan (6-3, 4-1 Big Ten), injured his throwing elbow last week in a loss against Nebraska and was unable to play. Gardner, who was recruited as a quarterback but had been playing wide receiver this season, got the first start of his career. He completed 12-of-18 passes for 234 yards and two touchdowns in relief of Robinson. He also ran for a touchdown and was intercepted once. Fitzgerald Toussaint gained 70 yards and a touchdown on the ground, while Jeremy Gallon racked up 72 yards and a touchdown through the air. Jake Ryan anchored the Wolverines defense with nine tackles, including three for loss.
Minnesota (5-4, 1-4) quarterback Philip Nelson completed less than 50 percent of his throws (13-for-29) for just 142 yards and a touchdown. Donnell Kirkwood led the Gophers with 58 yards on 16 carries.
The Wolverines' offense struggled in the early going, failing to pick up a first down in the first quarter. Three Michigan drives ended with two punts and an interception as they gained just nine first quarter yards. Minnesota could not take advantage, and the first period ended without a score. Michigan has not allowed a first quarter touchdown since week one against Alabama.
The Gophers struck first on the opening play of the second quarter when Nelson found John Rabe wide open for a 10-yard touchdown. The score appeared to put a jolt in the Michigan offense, as they marched right back to tie the score at 7-7. Gardner didn't miss a pass on the 12-play drive, and despite being sacked to set up a third and long, launched a 45-yard touchdown pass to Drew Dileo.
Another long drive for Michigan later in the quarter led to Thomas Rawls' two- yard touchdown with less than a minute left until halftime. The drive almost stalled after Gardner's third down pass fell incomplete to Devin Funchess but a pass interference flag gave Michigan a fresh set of downs, and Rawls scored on the very next play. Minnesota managed to get within field goal range but Jordan Wettstein's 55-yard attempt missed wide left, and Michigan led 14-7 at the break.
Minnesota had the opportunity to put points on the board early in the third quarter but failed to convert a fake field goal attempt. Gardner led Michigan down the field on the ensuing drive, completing a 10-yard fade to Gallon to put the Wolverines ahead by two scores.
Wettstein began the fourth quarter with a 26-yard field goal to cut the Wolverine lead to 21-10. But Gardner continued to carve up the Gophers defense, completing a deep pass to Roy Roundtree before pounding it in himself for a two-yard touchdown run. Toussaint's 41-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter completed the scoring.
Michigan has now beaten Minnesota in 21 of the last 22 matchups and five straight. The Wolverines improve to 72-24-3 all-time against the Gophers, and 68-22-3 in games that handed out the Little Brown Jug.Game Notes