Looking Back is a Special Feature by Jeff Cummins Highlighting Key Rivalry Games
The third installment of the series focusing on the football rivalry between Michigan and Minnesota takes us back to 2003. The Wolverines arrived in Minneapolis fresh off a frustrating loss at Iowa. Few expected Minnesota to give Michigan any trouble, but unusual things often happen in rivalry games.
Michigan entered the game as the lower-ranked team, but had every reason to expect to dominate Minnesota; the Wolverines hadn’t lost to Minnesota since 1986, a time that virtually none of the 2003 Wolverines could even remember. So Michigan could be forgiven for thinking a very should be in order, but in the third quarter, anyone wearing the maize & blue would glance up at the scoreboard in the Metrodome and realize that Minnesota was, in fact, leading by three touchdowns. This wasn’t an ordinary deficit by any means.
Somehow, the resilience that made those 2003 Wolverines Big Ten champions showed up late in the game, when they needed it most. John Navarre started the comeback when he connected with Chris Perry on a screen pass for a 10-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter to cut Minnesota’s lead to two scores. After Jacob Stewart returned an interception 30 yards for a touchdown, the Wolverines started to regain their confidence, while the Golden Gophers could hear the footsteps, as well as the burden of history. Suddenly, maintaining that lead must have seemed like a monumental task for the Golden Gophers, while the Wolverines experience a very familiar feeling, the fierce rush of adrenalin that comes with knowing you can achieve a goal. Michigan sensed the game was theirs for the taking, and they never took their feet off the gas, even after Asad Abdel-Khaliq scampered 52 yards for a touchdown that re-established a 14-point advantage for the Golden Gophers. Michigan responded with the obligatory big play from Braylon Edwards, who could be counted on to make at least one big play in every Michigan comeback. Edwards got by the Minnesota secondary and extended the ball across the goal line to cut Michigan’s deficit to one touchdown, which Perry erased on a 10-yard touchdown run deep in the fourth quarter. By the time that Garrett Rivas lined up for the decisive 33-yard field goal, there was a familiar silence in the Metronome, a place that always lacked a college football feeling. By the time Markus Curry intercepted Minnesota’s last gasp pass, there was an air of resignation in the Metrodome, as the Golden Gophers realized their fate.
Michigan went on to claim the Big Ten title that year, but the comeback win over Minnesota was the Wolverines’ most exciting game, by far.
As always, this blog post is strictly for the entertainment of fans. I do not profit in any way from it. Thanks to YouTube poster WolverineHistorian and ESPN for the video highlights below.
- Michigan vs Michigan State Football — Looking Back – 2019 - October 30, 2020
- Michigan vs Michigan State Football — Looking Back – 2015 - October 30, 2020
- Michigan vs Michigan State Football — Looking Back – 1985 - October 29, 2020
- Michigan vs Michigan State Football — Looking Back – 2004 - October 29, 2020
- Michigan vs Michigan State Football — Looking Back – 2002 - October 28, 2020
- Michigan vs Minnesota Football — Looking Back – 2015 - October 23, 2020
- Michigan vs Minnesota Football — Looking Back – 2005 - October 22, 2020
- Michigan vs Minnesota Football — Looking Back – 2003 - October 21, 2020
- Michigan vs Minnesota Football — Looking Back – 1997 - October 20, 2020
- Michigan vs Minnesota Football — Looking Back – 1903 - October 19, 2020