A year has passed, and Minnesota coach Glen Mason hasn’t
gotten much from it.
“It’s still a game,” Mason said.
“It’s not like I learned my lesson because I got in a
car accident, didn’t have my seat belt (on) and went flying
through the window.”
But the significance of Oct. 10, 2003, still lingers in the
minds of both Wolverine and Golden Gopher fans.
Entering the game undefeated, Minnesota dominated from the
outset. The Golden Gophers ran over the Wolverines and put together
two punishing scoring drives, going into halftime up 14-0.
With 58 seconds remaining in the third quarter,
Minnesota’s Thomas Tapeh ran the ball in the endzone from two
yards out. The Golden Gophers took a 28-7 lead, and the Little
Brown Jug was in their grasp. The Wolverines were about to be 4-3,
and the “Fire-Lloyd-Carr” supporters were lighting
their torches and getting ready to storm town.
Then came the quarter that changed both teams’
Navarre led an 80-yard touchdown drive, completing nine-of-10
passes. Michigan cornerback Jacob Stewart picked off a pass and
returned it 34 yards for the score. 28-21. Minnesota fought back,
when quarterback Asad Abdul-Khaliq ran for 52 yards. 35-21. But
then Navarre threw a bomb to Braylon Edwards. 35-28. Chris Perry
ran for a 10-yard score. 35-35.
Minutes later, then-true freshman Garrett Rivas kicked a 33-yard
field goal. The Wolverines earned a 38-35 victory and the momentum
required to earn their first Rose Bowl trip since 1997. The Golden
Gophers, on the other hand, ended up in the Sun Bowl.
“It’s definitely the most thrilling game I’ve
ever been a part of at any level,” Edwards said.
That fourth quarter showed that the 2003 Wolverines had a killer
instinct, something they later used to defeat Purdue and Ohio
State. Michigan coach Lloyd Carr, though, put little stock in last
year’s game as in relation to Saturday’s game.
“You can get distracted by all that other stuff,”
Carr said. “I understand it’s a great story, but by the
same token, what’s going to help you win? That’s what
we’ve got to deal with.”
Just as much will be on the line as the teams meet today. Once
again, Minnesota will come into the game as the higher-ranked team.
Before last year, the last time Minnesota was ranked higher was
1960. Minnesota also does not have Ohio State or Purdue on its
schedule. So a victory would put the Golden Gophers in the
driver’s seat to head for Pasadena.
But today, there will be no pregame speeches about last
“Do you really think that I got to remind them that we
blew a 21-point lead against Michigan in the fourth quarter last
year?” Mason said. “That’s not something
we’re very proud of, but that’s not something
that’s Michigan’s fault. That’s our
Mason said that the Golden Gophers spent as much time looking at
last year’s film as they would against any other team. Mason
added that he doesn’t really care about the national
recognition the team would receive if it were to win, or the
prospects of beating Michigan State, Illinois or Indiana —
all inferior teams — over the next three weeks and being
The Gophers won’t be looking for revenge today.
They’ll be looking for a victory.
“That really sounds good until the first play when you get
punched in the mouth,” Mason said.
Things that have happened since Minnesota last had the Little
Brown Jug (Nov. 1986- Nov. 1987):
• Michigan won 155 football games
• Penn State joined the Big Ten
• America had four presidents (including two Bushes)
• The Berlin Wall fell
• The Pistons won three NBA championships
• Kevin Bacon acted in 35 movies
• Atari and Nintendo became outdated in the video game
• Personal computers have became commonplace for in the
• Arnold Schwarzenegger’s stopped being “The
Running Man” (which debuted the Friday after Michigan’s
1987 victory), and became the Governor of California.