MINNEAPOLIS – The Minnesota football team is learning the hard way that respect is something that must be earned.
The Golden Gophers, desperately yearning for a benchmark victory, lost to Michigan, 41-24, Saturday night. The loss was Minnesota’s second in as many weeks against a traditional Big Ten powerhouse on national television, as the Gophers were dominated by Ohio State in Columbus last weekend, 34-3.
“We played some of the big boys, and respect is something that we want to bring to Minnesota,” Minnesota linebacker Ben West said. “It’s something we’ve been striving for for a few years, and we’re not going to get it unless we beat these top teams.”
But Minnesota certainly had its chances to win against this “big boy.” The Gophers, down 17-3 after two quarters Saturday, got a message from Minnesota linebackers coach Greg Hudson and took it to heart.
“He said, ‘Our ‘M’s are the ‘M’s that should win this game,’ ” running back Terry Jackson III said.
The Minnesota offense – hurt by a goal-line interception by Michigan safety Jon Shaw and poor execution in the first half – took Hudson’s message to heart, scoring 14 unanswered points to tie the game at 17 and send the Metrodome crowd into a frenzy with 6:06 left in the third quarter.
The Golden Gophers struck first on a six-play, 78-yard drive that lasted just a minute and 43 seconds. From the 6-yard line, Minnesota quarterback Asad Abdul-Khaliq play-action faked and hit wide receiver Tony Patterson streaking across the field for the score. After a quick stop by the Minnesota defense, Abdul-Khaliq took the Gophers down the field with his feet, rushing for 26 yards and two first downs on the drive. On a crucial third down on the Michigan 27-yard line, Abdul-Khaliq rolled out to his right and found receiver Antoine Burns, who beat Michigan safety Charles Drake to tie the score.