MINNEAPOLIS — More than a year later, Minnesota’s 58-0 loss to Michigan still stings.
It was the most lopsided defeat the Gophers have suffered in years. In fact, it was the biggest blowout for either team in their series that dates back to 1892 and was the first time Minnesota had been shut out by Michigan since a 45-0 Wolverines win in 1976.
The Gophers finished with just 177 yards of total offense in last year’s rout, while giving up 580 yards to the Wolverines offense, including 363 rushing yards. Several of the Gophers players recalled that loss Tuesday, but senior cornerback Troy Stoudermire summed it up best.
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“It was just embarrassing to our program and to our state,” Stoudermire said. “We’re looking for a little revenge this year.”
The 58 points given up by Minnesota were the most the Gophers had allowed in well over a decade. You have to go back to 1997, when Purdue won a 59-43 shootout, to find the last time Minnesota surrendered that many points.
Led by quarterback Denard Robinson, Michigan took a 38-0 lead into halftime and added 20 more points in the second half of last year’s win. The Gophers were without their starting quarterback, MarQueis Gray, and instead had to throw true freshman Max Shortell into the fire. Shortell was just 11-of-22 for 104 yards. Minnesota didn’t muster a whole lot on the ground, either, finishing with just 73 rushing yards.
All in all, it was the biggest clunker the Gophers have had in a long time, and it left a sour taste in the mouths of the entire Minnesota roster.
“Overall, what we’re taking from last year’s game is the feelings that we felt after it,” junior safety Brock Vereen said. “That was the longest plane ride I’ve ever been a part of. … There’s nothing to say after a game like that. That’s motivation going forward.”
After last year’s win, Michigan improved to 71-24-3 all-time in the rivalry. The two teams play for the Little Brown Jug trophy, but the Wolverines have kept it in Ann Arbor for most of the past three decades. Minnesota’s last win at home against Michigan came in 1977, when the Gophers upset the top-ranked Wolverines, 16-0.
Since then, though Minnesota has won just twice in the last 30 meetings — a 20-17 victory in Ann Arbor in 1986 and a 23-20 win at Michigan Stadium in 2005. Between those two wins, the Wolverines won 16 straight meetings against the Gophers.
The dominance Michigan has had over Minnesota in recent years — and its success in the Big Ten — is something the rebuilding Gophers would like to emulate.
“I think you always look at where we’re at and where we want to go,” second-year Gophers coach Jerry Kill said. “… There’s a reason Michigan is where they’re at. You look at that and you say, ‘OK, what do we have to do?’ You look at from recruiting to how you operate day to day. If we want to compete — we haven’t won a Big Ten title in 45 years — if we want to do that, then we’ve got to look at those programs.”
Injury update: During last week’s 44-28 win over Purdue, Gophers wide receiver A.J. Barker was injured on the second of his two touchdown catches. Barker did not play at all in the second half after suffering an ankle injury on the play.
Kill said that Barker would not practice Tuesday, but he remained confident that the team’s top receiver would be fine for Saturday’s game against Michigan.
“He turned his ankle, and it’s kind of in a tender place,” Kill said. “It’s a time thing. It’s certainly a concern, but hopefully we’ll know more on Wednesday. … For the young man’s sake — he’s had such a good year — you hope that he’s able to play.”
Barker leads the Gophers with 30 catches for 577 yards and seven touchdowns, all of which are team highs.
Meanwhile, Kill said he doesn’t anticipate left tackle Ed Olson to play Saturday due to an ankle injury. The Gophers coach added that he thinks safety Derrick Wells should be on the field Saturday. Wells suffered a laceration on his leg but has been playing through the injury.
“Derrick’s a tough kid. I think he’ll find a way to try to play,” Kill said. “That’s who he is. He’s one of the tougher kids I’ve ever been around. We’ll see, but I think we’re all optimistic.”
Gophers expect to see Robinson under center: Robinson suffered an arm injury in last Saturday’s loss to Nebraska and missed the second half of the game. Despite that, it appears as if Robinson will be good to go for Saturday’s game against the Gophers at TCF Bank Stadium.
That’s how Minnesota is preparing, at least.
“There’s no doubt he’s playing,” Kill said. “He’ll be practicing today, I promise you. They just won’t let the media or anybody know, but he’ll be practicing.”
Robinson was 15-of-19 for 169 yards and two touchdowns in last year’s blowout win against the Gophers. He also ran for 51 yards and a touchdown on six carries.