No. 15 Michigan 29, Gophers 26
The recap: Facing the nation’s stingiest defense, the Gophers had several career highs – passing yards for Mitch Leidner (317), receiving yards for Brandon Lingen (111), field goals for Ryan Santoso (four) — but came up a half-yard short in the end. Leidner was stuffed on a game-ending quarterback sneak.
What was learned: The Gophers overcame Jerry Kill’s retirement and the fact they were 13-point underdogs, outplaying Michigan for most of the game. Interim coach Tracy Claeys and staff made several good decisions but had some key head-scratchers, too.
YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED:
• It looked like the Gophers’ night when a pass from Leidner went through a Michigan defender’s hands, right to Lingen for a 39-yard gain. That set up a Santoso field goal as time expired on the first half, with the Gophers leading 16-14.
• Michigan came close to giving up a safety when Jabrill Peppers missed a punt into the end zone late in the third quarter. If Peppers had caught the ball, carried it into the end zone and then been tackled, it would have been a safety. But a muffed punt that bounces into the end zone is a touchback.
• Leidner broke a knee brace on a hard sack in the fourth quarter. The brace was bent out of shape but did its job, protecting the knee. Still, the Gophers weren’t happy when the refs threw a flag, only to decide it wasn’t roughing the passer.
• A photographed image of the game’s final play shows multiple Michigan helmets and hands lined up offsides, but the linesmen didn’t call it. It would have only moved the ball about 3 inches, but the Gophers felt a penalty there could have slowed the Wolverines’ push.
Up next: No. 1 Ohio State
7 p.m. Saturday, Ohio Stadium
TV: Ch. 5 • Radio: 100.3-FM
Records: Gophers 4-4, 1-3 Big Ten; Ohio State 8-0, 4-0
The skinny: J.T. Barrett spent seven games as a backup quarterback, behind Cardale Jones, before finally getting the chance to start again. The No. 1 Buckeyes had looked out of sync for a while, but with Barrett taking snaps, everything flowed better in a 49-7 victory over Rutgers. The Buckeyes had a bye last week, so what could go wrong before the Gophers’ visit? Well, Barrett got picked up for drunken driving early Saturday, drawing a one-game suspension. So the Gophers know they’ll be preparing for Jones. The Gophers played Ohio State tough last November in a 31-24 loss at TCF Bank Stadium. This one is at the Horseshoe, and Ohio State is 28-0 in regular-season Big Ten games under Urban Meyer.