Michigan vs Minnesota Football — Looking Back – 1903

Looking Back is a Special Feature by Jeff Cummins Highlighting Key Rivalry Games

Paranoia has sparked the flames of many rivalries, and it’s at the heart of the football rivalry between Michigan and Minnesota for the Little Brown Jug. For the first installment of the series focusing on the Little Brown Jug, we go back to 1903. Prior to the game, Michigan coach Fielding H. Yost allegedly had some concerns about Minnesota, the host team, contaminating Michigan’s water supply, so he ordered the team’s student manager to purchase a water jug. So, student manager Thomas B. Roberts plunked down 30 cents for a five-gallon jug, and the Wolverines were set, or so they thought.

Michigan jumped out first with a touchdown in the first half, but then again, the game was played on Halloween, and true to form, some strange things started to occur. Minnesota scored a tying touchdown, and then the skies opened up, sending everyone scurrying for cover. In the commotion, Michigan didn’t retrieve the jug. Oscar Munson, a custodian, picked up the jug and gave it to Minnesota athletic director L.J. Smith. The game ended in a tie, and the jug stayed in Minnesota after the game. Michigan had to wait patiently for its chance to retrieve the jug.

Finally, the two teams played again in 1909, and again, in Minnesota. This time, the Wolverines came out on top, 15-6, and reclaimed their piece of hardware, along with a new appreciation for it.

The series began in 1892, and for the most part, Michigan has dominated. But the circumstances surrounding that tie in 1903 set the tone for the rivalry for rest of the series.


Established in 1909, the Little Brown Jug has an enduring and proud appeal to Michigan Fans. The Wolverines lead the series 73-24-3. Possessing the jug is an obsession with the Wolverines. It is the oldest Bowl Subdivision Trophy. But Saturday there was more at stake than just a coveted trophy. In this important game, it was hoped Team 135 would finally establish the offensive identity it needed. It did not.


The University of Michigan’s Wolverine Football team began the Big Ten season against the tough and physical Minnesota Gophers Saturday with unpleasant results. The Wolverines were outplayed and out coached in all three phases of the game. Offense, Defense, and Special Teams.

Offensively, Shane Morris started the game at QB, and led Michigan to its first TD in its last four quarters in the second quarter. Good field position was established, courtesy of a good Will Hagerup punt. That enabled a short drive from the Gopher 47-yard line to pay dirt.

Shane earned an A for effort and determination but a D for contribution and execution. By the fourth quarter he was the victim of many hits and a cheap shot. He was battered and wobbly but Coach Hoke did not see this, and he played some after. He also had a limp,. Shane was 7/19 for 49-yards passing on the day, threw an interception (a tipped ball), and fumbled twice with one recovered. He netted eight negative yards rushing.

Finally, during mop up time. in the middle of the fourth quarter,  Devin Gardner replaced him , and brought a spark as he engineered a drive and scored, running for Michigan’s second and last TD. Devin was three for six for 39-net yards with a long of 18-yards. He rushed 5 times for 23 net yards and a TD, with a long of 18, and no interceptions.

M Running Back De’Veon Smith toted four in a row, running impressively tough. On one run he kept it going with tacklers on his back, moving the pile. That was around the 11 minute mark of the first half. After that, it was a Gopher day as they loaded the scoreboard with 10 points before the half. Smith ended the game as M’s best running back. His nine attempts for sixty-yards and a TD were impressive. He broke tackles and dragged piles of would be tackles. Smith reminded of the tough running style of Michigan’s late Carvie Craw who played in the sixties. Craw once took detour to run through MSU’s entire bench. He was tough, very tough. So is Smith. He keeps those feet churning.  In an after interview, LB Joe Bolden remarked about Smith keeping those feet digging.

At 2:17 of the half, Will Hagerup hit another nice punt. It was a 53-yarder that was collared by the Wolverines at the Minnesota one. The Gophers promptly executed a nice drive passing and running. The drive stalled at the M 24, where they hit a field goal.

Letting the Gophers turn this disadvantage into an advantage was bad omen. It was Wolverines 7 to the Gophers 10 at the half, but the momentum was all Minnesota’s. The handwriting on the wall was apparent then, as the Gophers led in about every statistical category except punting average. Michigan had 65 net rushing yards. They were two of six in third down conversions. The defense allowed the Gophers 229-yards to M’s measly 106.

Michigan received to start the second half, but went three and out. I saw little if any innovative play calling. When I can sit there and call the first down plays there is a problem. There is so little innovation and it is ever so conservative.

A first down rush for no gain, an incomplete pass, and a completion short of the first down marker, left the Wolverines out of possession and playing from the Minnesota 38. The M defense held, and the offense squandered another opportunity. Shane lost five yards on first down and M was again behind the sticks. Morris fumbled, recovered by M at the M two yard line. Smith and Hayes ran for 5-yards and it was Hagerup again. The Gophers hit a 48-yard field goal to make it 7-13 and I had the notion that the Wolverines were finished.

That impression seemed verified when Shane threw an interception at about the 6:00 minute mark of the third quarter. That was run back from the M 30 for six. Now it was 7-20 and it was all but over.

Shane’s and the Wolverine’s woes continued. Shane lost five yards and the football. Minnesota recovered at the M 30 and passed for a one year score. M 7-Gophers 27.

Devin Gardner got a consolation TD in the fourth quarter after the gimpy and groggy Morris was replaced at quarterback. At that moment he seemed to rejuvenate the Wolverines offense as he engineered the Wolverines last score.

Again Michigan errors, including a tipped intercepted pass, squelched the Wolverine’s ability to score. Constantly they were “behind the sticks”, had third and longs, and disadvantageous field position. Michigan’s stodgy offense could not maintain field position enough to help the cause or the defense.

The Gophers had previously shunned the benefits of a robust passing game prior to Saturday, largely because their passing QB, Mitch Leidner had been gimpy. It was rumored that he had difficulty with his right leg and foot as in strained ligaments and turf toe. He got well against the Wolverines.

The Gophers other QB, Chris Streveler, was thought the better runner, but a pedestrian passer. Leidner did not play last week but was more than ready for the Wolverines, as he was10 of 15 for 115-yards with a long of 33. He was sacked just once.

As every M fan already knows, the Wolverines came into the game with a struggling offense against the two better defenses they had faced so far this season. Now make that two three.

Also present was heavy, general fan dissatisfaction with a perceived lack of progress in this Hoke’s fourth year at the helm in general and, now added dissatisfaction with this game in particular. There were boos, and while there was much media speculation that Coach Hoke was on a hot seat before Saturday, there will be an added intensity now.  The body of evidence keeps growing.

The Wolverines offensive malaise continues. Instances of what is perceived to be poor game management continue to happen. Why was Shane Morse’s wobbling not noticed by Coach Hoke?

There was lively public discussion between Coaches Mattison and Hoke in the Utah game, with each blaming the passion of the game, and singing the praises of the other afterward. This gave evidence of some football seams unraveling for the Wolverines. I did not object to that. It indicated involvement, some fire. Where was the fire Saturday?

The Wolverines offense has been as barren as the Artic Circle’s tundra in winter in three of their five games this season. Before the game the Wolverines were a nasty 125th in offensive TOs nationally, and can’t be much better today, if not sinking.

The Wolverines defense still can’t tackle, has a leaky pass defense, and sometimes doesn’t turn play in, letting the opposition turn the corner outside and go. While it is obvious that the defense is light years ahead of the struggling offense, the defense affords many big pass plays and runs. They sometimes will make a stop of the first down play, stuff the second down play and get burned by a run or pass on third and long. Today there were 5 or 6 such instances.

Some speculate that Devin could not utilize his true skills in the present play action offensive scheme, and that Shane Morris more closely mirrored the offensive image that the coaches have been wanting. Saturday did not prove that Shane could do better.

Is this Michigan team raveling at the seams? Or has it already? What this most important Gopher game in decades has told us is that Michigan Football is on the ropes. It screams that the Coaches do not know how to fix the problems to make the Wolverines competitive in the Big Ten.

Saturday they were not competitive!  Are the Wolverines headed to the bottom of the Big Ten barrel? What’s your level of confidence?

Every week Coach Hoke states that the team has had a good week of practice, and that it is a great cohesive team, but the results don’t translate to winning on the field. They have to find the path to address the whys and why nots soon, or Rutgers, a newcomer to the Big Ten, is going to embarrass them, in prime time, on a national stage.

Team 135 has yet to prove that it is a good football team, and the Coaches have yet to prove they can make it a good team. Expectations are dropping faster than the stock market in 1929.

All this speculation surrounding Hoke’s coaching ability and tenure is obviously not a good thing for Hoke or his Wolverines, unless it is thought that any publicity, including derogatory publicity is worthwhile. Not likely.

Hoke had a message for Michigan fans: “I would tell them that, number one, we know their frustration, because we share their frustration. I would also tell them that as a team, we all take accountability for it, and we also all are going to work together to rectify it.” The sooner the better, Coach!

Some are clamoring that Head Coach Brady Hoke should be fired instantly.  I don’t buy that. A mid-season firing further destroys football programs, and are an emotional response which do not harm the coaches as they take a wagon load of money away with them, but do hammer the student athletes pledged to the program.

In any case, let’s take the bad Michigan times with the good and hang in there. The Wolverines have always come roaring back. The only question is when.

Go Blue!


M Football 2011-Wolverines Shine-Gophers Pine- Michigan 58-Minnesota 0

By Andy Andersen

First, the Gophers lost their Coach, Jerry Kill, to illness.  Fortunately he was back on the sidelines Saturday, hale and hearty to all appearances.

Then they lost their talented starting QB, the adept Marqueis Gray, to an injured toe, and he could not play Saturday.  They had to utilize Freshman Max Shortell at that critical position.  He endured a very tough afternoon learning about B1G (Big Ten) football, but he showed some skill.  He was 11 of 22 for 104 yards with a long throw of 33.

After that, they had to face an energized and physical group of Wolverines who wanted to get off to a good start on their Big Ten schedule in the new Legends Division.  They did so offensively and defensively.

Continue reading “M Football 2011-Wolverines Shine-Gophers Pine- Michigan 58-Minnesota 0”

M Football 2007- The Bad, the Good and the Jug

Michigan’s Football Wolverines suffered the humiliation of falling behind to the University of Minnesota?s lowly Gophers 3 to zip in the first quarter, of trailing 10 to zip in the second quarter, of barely scraping out a 13-10 lead at the half, of starting with less than glacial speed and almost putting the announced crowd of about 109,000 to sleep with first down runs to the left, only to later stun the crowd with a series of sparkling plays in the second half for a 34 to 10 victory.

Those pesky Minnesota rodents battled in earnest in their desperate attempt to right a wronged season.  They did not quit even if they were finally out manned and overwhelmed, but their many freshmen played tough at least for a while.

Any win is a win and is good, especially in conference, even though in this one, in the first half, it was simply a stinker on the part of the Wolverine offense and, to a lesser degree,  the Wolverine defense.  Thirteen points in a half against statistically the worst defense in BCS (formerly D-1) ball is not particularly laudable.  In fairness to Michigan’s defense it should be noted that the Gophers have demonstrated a proven ability to move the football this year.

Minnesota has fallen on exceptionally hard football times and the Wolverines should be able to demolish a team owning their statistics at the bottom of BCS play, even without the services of Chad Henne and Mike Hart.  While eventually the Wolverines prevailed in somewhat expected style, they were not able to put the game away early, and again seemed to somewhat play down to the level of their competition.

In the absence of Chad Henne, Ryan Mallett drew the start at QB. And like the rest of the Wolverines he saved his best for last, after bobbled snaps, a fumble that led to Gopher points, after passes were batted down, after some poor throws were made and offensive false starts happened.

Ryan seems to be in the midst of some growing pains, but fortunately the situation is perfect for him to learn and put mistakes behind him with the least damage to his team.  His arm appears to be as good as advertised, perhaps better.   His 40-yard, late in the game, TD pass to Mario Manningham in the south endzone was perfect, allowing Mario to catch it in stride.  That,  and others like his strikes to Adrain Arrington, are all proof that the talent and a better than average football future is his to reap.

Just like premium cheese, he needs to be aged, but the level he attains will not just be dependent on his abundant physical skills but on maturation and the growth of football wisdom.  I wonder if the cooler temperatures Saturday bothered him.  In Texas, this kind of temperature would be a ?Blue Norther?.

Ryan was 11/20 for 233 yards. He got better as the game went on, and he will get better as his career goes on.   Next year is sure to be both challenging and interest for him and us.

In the absence of Mike Hart, Carlos Brown started but soon fumbled an opportunity away. Brandon Minor replaced him at TB after the fumble.  Minor had 21 carries for 157 yards and a TD.  Fortunately, Carlos got another chance and redeemed his day with an 85-yard TD sprint from scrimmage into the south endzone, and finished with a solid 132 yards for a total of two TDs ont he day. 

That long TD run was a masterpiece, a spectacular run that showcased Brown?s outstanding speed, and it was his second of the day.  He ran away from everyone.   He had done the same thing in a spring practice, so in that sense it was not surprise.

Mario Manningham has to be considered the player of the game.  He snared 5 passes for a career high 162 yards, and had key catches in scoring drives, and a spectacular TD catch.

How It Unfolded:

The Wolverines all but ceded the first quarter to the Gophers.  Carlos Brown fumbled and they got a 29-yard FG.  M looked flatter than yesterday?s beer on a platter.  This yawner of a quarter ended W-0, G-3.

Things picked up some in the second as Ryan Mallett donated the football to the Gophers and they decided to carry it across M?s goal line.  W-0, G-10.  Unthinkable.  Unbelievable. Actual.  More Appalachian State?

The Wolerines ran left on many first downs, but threw Junior Hemmingway into the fray as a running back, taking a direct snap, with Mallett spread far left, for a harmless trick play that netted three yards.  Finally they shook off some lethargy, and moved for a 42-yard Lopata FG after a 10-play, 54-yard drive. W-3, G-10.

Then they did it again, this time on a 26-yard Lopata FG enabled by a Mario Manningham reception for 39 yards in a 7 play, 53-yard drive.  W-6, G-10.

Mario struck again with a neat 24-yard TD catch, and with a Gopher pass interference call, Brandon Minor ended the drive by scoring on a two-yard run.  It was W-13, G-10, and a poor half of Michigan football was complete.  Offensively, it was a performance as grey and misty as the day.  Henne and Hart missing should not be the crutch used to support that first half.  The defense, while not perfect, played better than the offense.

Fortunately, Zoltan Mesko continued his great punting.  Unfortunately, we could never collar the ball before it bounced into the endzone.  What happened to the punting team trying to catch it near the goal line?  It appeared we had the opportunity with people down there a couple of times, but they could not locate the ball.

Carlos Brown had a nice 27-yard return to start the second half, but they stalled and punted.

Well into the third quarter the Mallett to Manningham connection struck again on a 48-yarder to set up a Carlos Brown TD run of 5-yards.  Great throw and catch.  M-20, G-10 after a 5-play 75-yard drive.

The Blue struck again early in the fourth, on a picture perfect pass and catch resulting in a 6 play, 68-yard drive, which ended with Mario?s remarkable 40-yard TD reception.  Perfect throw, perfect catch, and Mario grabbed it on a dead run.  W-27, G-10.

Carlos Brown than made as good a long TD run as I have ever seen, hauling it 85-yards to pay dirt.  Final W-34, G-10.

For a long time this game was not as lop sided as the final score and statistics indicated.  Michigan? own lack of contain, fumbles and missed tackles, and some mind numbing play calling, helped the Gophers hang around far too long.

Michigan ended up with 307-yards rushing on 40 carries and 254-yard passing on 21 attempts, so eventually they dominated statistically and on the scoreboard.  Ryan Mallett made some mistakes, but engineered some nice drive too.

The Gophers did manage to run the ball for 132-yards on the Wolverines.  Next week the Spartans will want to triple that.  In view of the Gopher?s past performances this year that is a lot, but overall this was a great win, and the Jug gets to remain with its rightful owners for another year.

Now the Wolverines have to slice into the toughest meat of their Big Ten season.  Each of the three remaining games means everything to their hopes, and each will be difficult.  Michigan State lost to Iowa Saturday, but don?t let that settle you into a comfort zone.  The Michigan game is always their season and a win would help D?Antonio to settle into a comfort zone never enjoyed by Williams and Smith.  Spartan Stadium will be wild with excitement.  They have been focused on the Wolverines for a long time.

With Henne and Hart back the Wolverines have the talent to win.  The question will simply be how much do the Wolverines want it?  It will likely be a brawl, a physical battle. 

It will be televised on the inconvenience that is known as the Big Ten Network so my greedy cable company will not carry it.  Should I go to a bar here in the Lansing area and put up with all that crap they spew?  Better to get a tape from a friend and watch right after, so hopefully I can get something posted.

Correction:  Late word is that ABC has exercised its option and picked up UM/MSU so the game WILL be available for those of us with non-participating cable providers.

Enjoy the game, thanks for reading this far and ?

Go Blue!