Patrick Reusse has been covering sports in the Twin Cities since 1968. He has been a Star Tribune sports columnist since 1988. His sportswriting credo is twofold: 1. God will provide an angle; 2. The smaller the ball, the better the writing.


Email Patrick.

When the Gophers pummeled Michigan (almost)

Posted by: Patrick Reusse Updated: June 14, 2013 - 2:57 PM

Chip Scoggins ran across this column I wrote on the night of Oct. 10, 2003, and thought it was good. Might as well share it to brighten weekend for Gophers football fans:

It was a Friday night and there was nothing else significant taking place in college football. The Gophers were the toast of that world for three quarters.

Certainly, the folks on ESPN had to be throwing constant praise in the direction of the Gophers' amazing running game - led by the amazing Marion Barber III.

This second-generation Gophers star was so sensational that you figured, come Monday, he would start appearing on those Heisman Trophy watch lists that have become so popular.

There were also generous observations to be aimed at the Gophers' defense. These hard-hitting fellows had held Michigan scoreless in the first half.

Michigan? Scoreless against Minnesota? It had to be a cruel joke.

It was . . . the cruelest for those 20,000 longtime Gophers loyalists who were joined by 40,000 front-runners at the Metrodome.

The Gophers were leading 28-7 entering the fourth quarter. They had not scored as many as 28 points against a Michigan team since 1937.

This was a romp. This was a celebration.

This was the national showcase event that could vault the Gophers into the top 10. This was the victory that would start serious Rose Bowl conversation in these parts for the first time in four decades.

The students and the other young folks in the yellow T-shirts were in the Dome just having a good time. The rest of us - the older generations - could not believe what we were watching. The Gophers having their way against Michigan . . .

The Gophers last had a piece of a Big Ten title in 1967. Since then, Michigan was 31-2 against their Little Brown Jug rivals. The Gophers beat Michigan once in '70s (1977), once in the '80s (1986) and then skipped the '90s.

The losing streak was 14. The Gophers rarely beat Michigan, and never pummeled it. But there it was:

Gophers 28, Wolverines 7, and "That's the end of the third quarter!"

This was the most impressive football game the Gophers had played since . . . well, the guess here is that Bobby Bell was on the field at the time.

Michigan was so helpless in trying to stop the Barber-fueled offense that even we old-timers could not see anything traumatic coming around the corner.

Which means all baby boomers who were in attendance should be asking ourselves a question this morning: How could we be so naive?

We have been watching this for 35 years. We know that more often than not the Gophers are going to be buried in the Big Ten's second division. Even more clearly, we know when the Gophers do escape to the first division and an opportunity to fully turn around the program is being served up on a tee, the Gophers are going to slice it into oblivion.

Wolverines 38, Gophers 35.

I'm not sure I should believe my lyin' eyes.

Yes, Michigan came back to within 28-21 in that fourth quarter, when Asad Abdul-Khaliq threw the most ill-advised aerial since the forward pass was legalized early in the last century.

The flip went to Michigan's Jacob Stewart, and he cruised into the end zone, accompanied by 60,000 groans.

But so what? Abdul-Khaliq came back to prove he is an athlete capable of reaching inside for a new rush of composure. On third-and-a-foot near midfield, he paused an instant, stepped through a gap in Michigan's compacted defense and went 52 yards for a touchdown to make it 35-21.

There were 11 minutes left. The quarterback had rallied, and now his team was back in charge.

It was a night when the magnificent Barber had 198 yards on 21 carries, and the Gophers totaled 424 yards on the ground.

You can't rush for 424 yards and lose . . . can't happen.

Unless it's the Gophers playing Michigan. Unless it's the Gophers with a giant opportunity staring at them through their facemasks.

"This isn't a one-shot thing," a fully drained Mason said later. "Our kids have had a lot of setbacks in their careers."

Never one like this. Never one where 53 carries for 8.0 yards a pop turned into a 38- 35 loss.

If Mason's kids come back from this one and get themselves into a New Year's Day bowl, both the coach and the athletes will deserve more cheers than they heard for three quarters Friday.

 

 

 

 

ADVERTISEMENT

Oakland - LP: D. Otero 8 FINAL
Kansas City - WP: J. Frasor 9
Minnesota 10/2/14 7:25 PM
Green Bay
Buffalo 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Chicago 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Cleveland 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
St. Louis 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Atlanta 10/5/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Tampa Bay 10/5/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Houston 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Dallas
Baltimore 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Pittsburgh 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Arizona 10/5/14 3:05 PM
Denver
Kansas City 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
NY Jets 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Diego
Cincinnati 10/5/14 7:30 PM
New England
Seattle 10/6/14 7:30 PM
Washington
NY Islanders 5 FINAL
Boston 3
NY Rangers 2 FINAL
Philadelphia 4
Ottawa 1 FINAL
Winnipeg 2
Carolina 1 FINAL
St. Louis 3
Tampa Bay 5 FINAL
Dallas 1
Colorado 0 FINAL
Calgary 2
Los Angeles 4 FINAL
San Jose 1
Fla Atlantic 10/2/14 6:00 PM
FIU
UCF 10/2/14 6:00 PM
Houston
Arizona 10/2/14 9:30 PM
(2) Oregon
Louisville 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Syracuse
San Diego St 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Utah State 10/3/14 9:15 PM
(18) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(12) Miss State
Ball State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Army
Iowa State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(21) Oklahoma State
Marshall 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Old Dominion
Southern Miss 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Middle Tennessee
(20) Ohio State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Maryland
Purdue 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Florida 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
SMU 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(22) East Carolina
Virginia Tech 10/4/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Eastern Mich 10/4/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Texas 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Indiana
Massachusetts 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Tulsa 10/4/14 2:00 PM
Colorado State
New Mexico 10/4/14 2:30 PM
TX-San Antonio
(3) Alabama 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(11) Ole Miss
(14) Stanford 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(9) Notre Dame
(17) Wisconsin 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Navy 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
(7) Baylor 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Texas
(4) Oklahoma 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(25) TCU
Wake Forest 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
NC State 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Clemson
Buffalo 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Bowling Green
Ohio U 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Central Mich
Oregon State 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Colorado
Vanderbilt 10/4/14 3:00 PM
(13) Georgia
Kansas 10/4/14 3:00 PM
West Virginia
Kent State 10/4/14 4:00 PM
Northern Ill
South Alabama 10/4/14 5:00 PM
Appalachian St
Texas-El Paso 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
(15) LSU 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(5) Auburn
UAB 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Ky
Texas Tech 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(23) Kansas State
Michigan 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rutgers
Hawaii 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rice
Toledo 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Mich
ULM 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Georgia State 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
Idaho 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Texas State
Memphis 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Arizona State 10/4/14 6:30 PM
(16) USC
So Carolina 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Kentucky
Pittsburgh 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Virginia
Miami-Florida 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Georgia Tech
(19) Nebraska 10/4/14 7:00 PM
(10) Michigan State
UNLV 10/4/14 7:00 PM
San Jose St
Ga Southern 10/4/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Utah 10/4/14 9:30 PM
(8) UCLA
Boise State 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Winnipeg 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Edmonton 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Is Paul Molitor the best choice to manage Twins?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT