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November 2, 2012It's Little Brown Jug time again, otherwise known as the Saturday in November in which Minnesota fans get to see the world's oldest rivalry trophy for a few minutes. Contrary to popular belief, Michigan equipment manager Jon Falk does pack the jug for the trip, just in case.
And there's apparently no truth to rumblings that Michigan athletic director David Brandon is in negotiations to just keep it in Ann Arbor permanently, given the odds the Gophers will win in any year match those of Rodney Dangerfield dancing to Kenny Loggins music - and next to the gopher - in a third Caddyshack movie.
Alas, it has happened in the past. The last mistake - er, Minnesota win - came in 2005, during which the Gophers stormed the sideline and whisked the jug away back to Minneapolis before it made the rounds in the state, finally arriving - fittingly - in Moonshine, Minnesota, where we hear it was passed around among the locals like the Stanley Cup during Bob Probert's weekend.
That's the history Michigan head coach Brady Hoke won't be sharing with his team in the locker room this week.
Given that Michigan would have won last week's game (as the entire staff predicted) had Denard Robinson remained healthy, we're giving a pass and starting this week with a clean slate. This week's winner receives either a $4 StubHub ticket to the Michigan State - Nebraska game or a $5 Subway coupon for the sandwich of your choice - we'll let you decide which is the better deal (make mine a ham and cheese with bacon).
Chris Balas: Minnesota enters Saturday's game with a false sense of confidence after beating a Purdue team whose only tricks on offense last week including rolling over and playing dead. This Michigan team is still hungry for a Big Ten title, and it will likely control its fate in the Legends Division again by the end of the day.
Michigan 30, Minnesota 13
John Borton: The last time Michigan lost a football game at Minnesota, none of the present Wolverines were alive. Wideouts coach Jeff Hecklinski was 3. Secondary coach Curt Mallory was 8. Brady Hoke was a freshman football player at Ball State University.
You get the idea. Whether Denard Robinson or Jack Kennedy takes the snaps, Michigan ought to look presidential.
Michigan 34, Minnesota 17
Michael Spath: It has been noted that no one actually drinks from The Little Brown Jug as the cap has been sealed tight, which begs the question: what might we uncover if we uncorked it and scavenged for old backwash. Is it possible we could find the saliva of Fielding H. Yost and clone him? What about Bo Schembechler? Maybe scientists could mix their DNA and create the perfect Michigan football coach one that won at a ridiculously high level and didn't take lip from nobody. If only.
Michigan 34, Minnesota 13
Andy Reid: Minnesota football, like the fictional Minnesotan town of Lake Wobegon on Garrison Keillor's A Prairie Home Companion, is "the little town that time forgot, and the decades can't improve."
When the Golden Gophers won their last outright Big Ten Championship in 1941 - that is not a typo; their last outright conference title was more than 70 years ago - their fans must have been on top of the world. Minnesota was the cream of the Big Ten crop, claiming at least a share of 16 conference crowns in the first 45 years, more than any other school (yes, even more than Michigan).
But the mighty Wolverines kept winning; Minnesota did not.
The Gophers haven't been to the Rose Bowl since 1961, haven't won a share of the conference since 1967, when they were passed over by The Granddaddy Of The All for Indiana. Every conference school - save Chicago, who left in 1946, and Nebraska, who joined last year - has won an outright Big Ten title more recently than Minnesota.
But, hey, The Little Brown Jug is still cool.
Michigan 38, Minnesota 14
Tim Sullivan: Michigan fans are feeling very down on the team after a frustrating loss at Nebraska. That feeling, of course, is something Minnesota fans rarely feel because shattered expectations requires starting out with, you know, expectations. That's not the case in Minneapolis, and for good reason. Though U-M may be coming off one of its worst performances of the year, and Minnesota one of the best, but the talent (and coaching) gap between these two programs is just too great for that to make a difference.
Michigan 31, Minnesota 9
Kevin Minor: The glaring struggles of redshirt freshman quarterback Russell Bellomy against Nebraska and the status of senior quarterback Denard Robinson may have Wolverine fans on edge, but Michigan will get this one done in a blowout with or without its star quarterback.
Minnesota is not a good football team, especially against the run, yielding 178.0 ground yards per game, and will be starting a freshman quarterback in Philip Nelson while clashing with a U-M squad that leads the conference in pass defense (145.2 yards per game).
The Gophers will be lucky to find the endzone, and the Wolverine running back corps will finally have a breakout game.
Michigan 35, Minnesota 10