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Staff predictions: Michigan at Minnesota

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So what do players and coaches actually do with the Little Brown Jug when they've got it in their possession? Is it like the Stanley Cup – everyone gets a day?
We've done a little digging to find out … and what we've discovered is …
It varies. In Michigan, rumor has it the Jug sits in equipment manager Jon Falk's basement, brought out for the biggest events only (like, the Michigan – Minnesota game. And the Minnesota - Michigan game).

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Most Wolverines asked Monday weren't quite sure how to answer when asked a few simple questions …
TheWolverine.com: "Do you guys take turns drinking out of the Jug the way they do with the Stanley Cup?
Anonymous player: "What's the Stanley Cup?"
Alan Branch: "Uh … no."
Anonymous player: "Nasty."
TheWolverine.com: "Okay … do you each get a turn with the Jug?
Branch: "Uh … no."
TheWolverine.com: "What would you do with it if you did?
Branch: "Well … just have it, I guess."
And there it is … feel the excitement.
As Lord Stanley's Cup made the rounds over the years, however, the Jug has reportedly been equally coveted in Minneapolis. Gophers fans (both of them) spent more time getting pictures taken with the Jug than they did watching Minnesota run through chop blocking drills this spring.
And whereas the Cup was once found at the bottom of Mario Lemieux's swimming pool – Patrick Roy's, too – word has it the search is on to retrieve the Jug from the bottom of Lake Minnetonka in time to return it to its rightful owner late Saturday night.
Congratulations to Mike Spath, who might have been last week's winner if he weren't forced to pick against the Wolverines (it's going to be a long season, young man). This week's winner gets the now infamous Caddyshack dancing gopher and a VHS copy of Caddyshack II, starring a second rate cast (as seen on cheesy TV movies).
This week's picks:
Chris Balas: As punishment for last year's debacle in Ann Arbor, Michigan defenders spent the entire offseason playing Grab that Gopher. A few Wolverines had a particularly tough time this spring, letting one varmint consistently slip away for a 64-yard gain – however, we've been assured practice makes perfect.
Michigan finally stymies the Minnesota running attack, moves the ball as it should have the last three years against the Gophers and runs away with a big victory.
Michigan 34, Minnesota 13
John Borton: Tommy Roberts' grandchildren are ticked. Minnesota fans are still in shock. Jon Falk is wandering around in a daze, reflexively reaching for a Little Brown Jug that is not there. It's in Minnesota, where fans line up to view it with the stunned disbelief of John L. in the rain.
Order. Sanity. Universal balance. That's what's on the line Saturday night, when the Gophers try to hold the Jug a second straight year for the first time since the final days of the Kennedy administration.
Neither ESPN Classic nor Oliver Stone will be interested in this one. The Back-To-Normal Tour rolls on.
Michigan 37, Minnesota 20
Michael Spath: While Michigan and its fans were sad to see the Little Brown Jug depart last fall, the Jug couldn't have been happier. College football's oldest trophy has experienced a whirlwind 12 months. First, he was put on display, like the Stanley Cup, at Minnesota's football facility. Then the Minneapolis natives held a parade in his honor. He took a swim in the mighty Mississippi, visited all 10,000 lakes and was booked for more than 100 combined birthday parties, Bat Mitzvahs, anniversaries and graduations.
The last thing the Jug wants is to return to Ann Arbor, returning to the dark, dreary chest in which U-M equipment manager Jon Falk imprisons him each year.
Good thing he won't have to.
Minnesota 21, Michigan 17
Josh Helmholdt: I've got to admit, I'm not a big fan of night games at the Metrodome, but at least this time around they're not playing on Friday night. Kind of lets you know where you stand in the sports community when you are at the mercy of the local baseball team. Forgive me, I'm not a big fan of baseball either.
The Metrodome will not be a college football venue much longer, thankfully. I'd rather remember it as the place where Dan Gladden crossed home plate in the tenth inning of game seven, or where Dave Kingman hit a ball through the roof or the site of Cris Carter's 1,000th catch. Those rekindle a greater sense of awe than remembering John Navarre take the vast majority of the third quarter to finish off a transcontinental.
I don't see Saturday night's game being that memorable either - at least not for the home team.
Michigan 39, Minnesota 3
Matt Pargoff Minnesota couldn't just leave well enough alone. The Gophers couldn't take the jug and just go home with it. They had to go and try to rub it in. One win in 17 attempts does not give you the right to go planting your flag. Quite the opposite, in fact.
As much as the Wolverines have tried to downplay the revenge aspect of this game, it's on the way.
Michigan 36, Minnesota 14
Kevin Werner: Does it get any better than this? A Big Ten revenge match for the oldest trophy in the sport and a pennant chase coming down to the last weekend of the year, all playing out in the same town under the cool fall sun and crisp October air. Oh wait, we're in Minneapolis. Make that indoors in a climate controlled enivornment.
Pathetic - and deserving of an 0-4 weekend for the home team, no?
Anyways, Michigan's defense shows it is human, for a couple drives anyways, before slamming the door shut. Michigan's offense hums early and then protects its lead in efficient if unspectacular fashion. The Jug comes home. The dream remains in act. For the first time in seven years, Michigan fans wake up on October 1st with an undefeated football team.
Wolverines 30, Homer Hankies 20
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