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.


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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.

 

 

 

 

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Team Irvin 7:15 PM
Team Carter
Miami 96 FINAL
Chicago 84
Oklahoma City 85 4th Qtr 6:25
Cleveland 94
Dallas 5:00 PM
New Orleans
Indiana 5:00 PM
Orlando
LA Clippers 5:00 PM
Phoenix
Minnesota 5:00 PM
Atlanta
Detroit 6:00 PM
Toronto
Milwaukee 6:00 PM
San Antonio
Boston 7:00 PM
Golden State
Washington 7:00 PM
Denver
Houston 8:30 PM
LA Lakers
Team Toews 1 1st Prd 13:27
Team Foligno 1
South Florida 53 FINAL
Connecticut 66
Boston College 64 FINAL
Georgia Tech 62
Virginia 50 FINAL
Virginia Tech 47
Indiana 70 FINAL
Ohio State 82
Stony Brook 61 FINAL
Binghamton 54
Cincinnati 56 FINAL
UCF 46
Maine 70 FINAL
Hartford 61
Monmouth 64 FINAL
Manhattan 71
Fairfield 67 FINAL
Marist 73
Rowan 48 FINAL
Princeton 96
St Bonaventure 48 FINAL
Rhode Island 53
Duke 77 FINAL
St Johns 68
Saint Peters 69 FINAL
Siena 55
Drake 40 FINAL
Wichita State 74
Vermont 61 FINAL
UMass Lowell 50
Seton Hall 57 FINAL
Butler 77
NJIT 72 FINAL
South Alabama 55
Northern Iowa 41 2nd Half 7:35
Illinois State 46
Louisville 52 2nd Half 9:44
Pittsburgh 39
UMBC 22 2nd Half
Albany 35
Niagara 18 1st Half 7:40
Iona 30
Notre Dame 5:30 PM
NC State
Belmont 5:30 PM
Tennessee St
Creighton 6:00 PM
Villanova
Northwestern 6:30 PM
Maryland
Washington 7:30 PM
Utah
Senior-North 34 FINAL
Senior-South 13
Seton Hall 99 FINAL
Georgetown 85
St Johns 69 FINAL
Villanova 81
Arkansas 58 FINAL
Florida 72
Maine 56 FINAL
UMBC 42
Vanderbilt 55 FINAL
Alabama 52
Lafayette 60 FINAL
Lehigh 65
UCF 61 FINAL
SMU 57
Utah 51 FINAL
Washington 63
James Madison 73 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 53
Delaware 56 FINAL
Drexel 61
Hofstra 56 FINAL
William & Mary 57
Hartford 58 FINAL
Albany 82
Binghamton 54 FINAL
Stony Brook 67
Towson 63 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 71
Wake Forest 80 FINAL
(17) Florida State 110
Georgia Tech 68 FINAL
Virginia 62
(22) Georgia 51 FINAL
(5) Tennessee 59
Drake 79 FINAL
Evansville 62
Iona 80 FINAL
Canisius 62
Fairfield 33 FINAL
Monmouth 59
Northwestern 75 FINAL
Penn State 76
Wisconsin 71 FINAL
Michigan State 77
Ohio State 79 FINAL
Purdue 71
Northern Iowa 57 FINAL
Indiana State 55
Butler 58 FINAL
Xavier 54
Creighton 93 FINAL
Marquette 75
Providence 42 FINAL
DePaul 90
Northeastern 77 FINAL
Elon 80
(2) Connecticut 96 FINAL
Cincinnati 31
Oregon 78 FINAL
Arizona 81
Bradley 46 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 45
NC State 49 FINAL
(23) Syracuse 66
(7) Maryland 84 FINAL
Indiana 74
Illinois State 35 FINAL
Missouri State 58
Colorado 52 2nd Half 11:50
Washington St 40
Tulane 41 2nd Half 5:30
South Florida 62
(14) Kentucky 56 2nd Half 12:05
Missouri 50
(9) Oregon State 51 2nd Half 8:10
(13) Arizona State 34
Vermont 31 2nd Half
UMass Lowell 37
Iowa State 29 2nd Half
(8) Texas 36
Southern Ill 29 2nd Half
Wichita State 43
(15) Duke 19 1st Half 9:26
(12) North Carolina 11
Miami-Florida 20 1st Half 7:32
(4) Louisville 14
(21) Minnesota 5 1st Half 12:54
(25) Rutgers 14
California 6:00 PM
UCLA
(11) Stanford 7:00 PM
USC

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