This week I want to take a look at the 2003 fight for the Little Brown Jug. Main reason is because it was a crazy game and Michigan won. Interesting part about this game was that it was played on a Friday night due to the Twins being in the MLB playoffs. While this year’s game will be played on a Saturday like normal everything about this game a decade ago was bizarre. Lets enjoy the biggest comeback in Michigan football history together on this fine Friday…
Announcers: Sean McDonough Rod Gilmore and MIke Golic (?)
The Situation: Minnesota actually came into the game higher ranked than Michigan. The Gophers were undefeated and had opened up B1G play with road wins over PSU and Northwestern. Their head coach was Glen Mason who used a zone blocking scheme that let his talented RBs Marion Barber and Lawrence Maroney shine. Michigan had started the season in great fashion but had come back down to earth with road losses and at Oregon and Iowa. For the first time in his tenure Lloyd Carr would be under scrutiny if Michigan lost to the Gophers.
Michigan: QB John Navarre, RB Chris Perry, WRs Braylon Edwards, Steve Breaston, Jason Avant, DL Gabe Watson, LB Pierre Woods, DBs Marlin Jackson, Ernest Shazor and Leon Hall
Minnesota: QB Asad Abdul-Khaliq (!), RBs Thomas Tapej, Marion Barber, Lawrence Maroney, TE Matt Speith and Ben Utech
Where Was I: Over at my buddies place playing poker because that was the craze when I was in high school. I spent the majority of the time folding hands and yelling at the TV.
The Game: Michigan Historian is the best so this is a 2 parter. 1-3 Q:
:08: Little Brown Jug sighting
:24: Old school ESPN intro, just awesome. They need to bring this back
1:05: HI LLOYD
1:23: Marion Barber TD. 7-0 Gophers
2:30: Zone blocking is eating Michigan alive, Maroney TD. 14-0 Minny
3:35: Navarre runs for a first down. Just stretching for the next big play.
4:50: Navarre throwback pass from Breaston, TD 14-7. The big man rumbles down the sideline for the score. I think I laughed for a good minute when I first saw it and I just laughed as long now. Some things are always funny.
5:48: Another zone stretch TD run by Maroney, 21-7.
6:25: Navarre tosses an INT followed by a Abdul-Khaliq TD run. 28-7 Minny. I assume I was sad at this point
4th Quarter Comeback
:25: Calvin Bell sighting, get excited
1:05: OC Terry Malone gets in his screen pass play calling grove. Perry finds the endzone. 28-14.
2:00: Abdul-Khaliq channels his inner Stanley Jackson and throws a horrible pass to the flat that is returned by Jacob Stewart of all people for a Michigan TD. 28-21 Minny.
3:10: Khaliq bounces back with a huge 52 yard TD run, 35-21 Gophers. At this point I probably flipped the poker table over.
3:38: SCREEN PASSES VS ZONE STRETCH
4:06: Braylon Edwards TD pass from Navarre. 35-28 Minny
5:15: Marcus Curry just had a nice PBU. Yes it still shocks me 10 years later
5:50: Navarre is just moving around out there with a nice 1st down pickup
6:28: Chris Perry TD run, 35-35. Drama in the Metrodome.
8:18: 4th and inches and Navaree leans forward and picks it up on final drive.
9:00: Garrett Rivas with the field goal, 38-35 Michigan. The first lead of the game. Cue happy Lloyd Carr shots and hug from Fred Jackson.
10:08: Marcus Curry with the game sealing INT. What a game!
Fallout from the Game: The game sent the two programs in different direction in 2003. Michigan would use the momentum to win out in the B1G and beat OSU and Tressel for the only time on their way to the Rose Bowl.
Minnesota would lose the following week to Sparty and drop another to Iowa to a good 9-3 season. Still, for the Gophers it was a “what could have been” moment that they still talk about in Minnesota. (Best part about that story is Schembechler calling Glen Mason after the game.)
I doubt this Saturday’s game will be as exciting (hopefully not) as Michigan tries to keep the jug in Ann Arbor.