Joe Christensen covered Major League Baseball for 15 years, including three seasons at the Baltimore Sun and eight at the Star Tribune, before switching to the college football beat. He’s a Faribault, Minn., native who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1996. He covered Jim Wacker’s Gophers for the Minnesota Daily and also wrote about USC, UCLA and the Rose Bowl for the Riverside Press-Enterprise before getting this chance to cover football again.

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Michigan made it look so easy

Posted by: Phil Miller under College football, Gophers postgame Updated: October 1, 2011 - 6:40 PM

     The statistics were the amazing part, which is always the case at the Big House. But this time, it had nothing to do with the 111,106 in attendance.
     (About that, by the way: The Gophers aren't the only team with empty seats in the student section. OK, given the size of the crowd, it's not much of a comparison, but the student section never completely filled up to the top.)
     At one point midway through the second quarter, the yardage counter on the scoreboard read: Michigan 328, Minnesota 25.
     At the end of the first quarter, Michigan had 11 first downs, the Gophers none.
     The Gophers were 0-for-11 on third downs, the Wolverines 6-for-11. Considering that Michigan had 12 possessions and faced only 11 third downs, it tells you how infrequently they ran such a play.
     And of course, the scoreboard: 58-0.
     I thought the losses to New Mexico State and North Dakota State were frightening. They don't begin to compare to this.
     That's because of how effortless the Wolverines made it look. They broke run after run; it seemed as though the cornerbacks and safeties were making all the tackles, and from behind.
     They found open receiver after open receiver. Opposing quarterbacks have now completed at least nine consecutive passes against the Gophers in four of their five games, and Denard Robinson's 11 straight to open the game (he finished 15-for-19) was the most amazing yet.
     The Gophers gave up nine or more yards on a play 24 times, the Gophers five.
     Gopher plays went nowhere. They couldn't break a run, couldn't catch a pass. In the first quarter, their longest play from scrimmage went five yards; Michigan had 10 plays of 10 or more by that time. They couldn't even catch kickoffs properly.
     These teams are supposed to be playing on equal footing. Sure, for a half-century now, Michigan always has a better program, but how did the disparity reach these heights? The Wolverines were 15-22 the past three seasons, after all, the Gophers 16-22.
     And most of all, how do the players prepare for seven more Big Ten games?
     I thought the Gophers needed a victory about as bad as a team could late last year. I think they need one even worse now. And if it doesn't come next week at Purdue, I'm not sure where they will find one.
 

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