September 30, 2006

Michigan takes home Little Brown Jug with win

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MINNEAPOLIS -The Little Brown Jug is headed back to Ann Arbor.

Chad Henne got the sixth-ranked Wolverines off to a fast start with three touchdown passes in the first half and Michigan hung on for a 28-14 victory over Minnesota on Saturday night.

Henne was 17-for-24 for 284 yards and Mike Hart rushed for 195 yards - 54 on his final carry of the game - for the Wolverines (5-0, 2-0 Big Ten), who looked like they would blow the game open early but let the Gophers (2-3, 0-2) hang around with a sluggish performance in the second half.

Bryan Cupito threw for 215 yards and two touchdowns to Logan Payne for the Gophers, who came into the game with college football's oldest rivalry trophy for the first time in 20 years.

Still smarting from a stunning loss to the Gophers at home last season, Michigan's first loss to Minnesota since 1986, the Wolverines walked calmly to the Minnesota sideline and hoisted the jug for the 64th time in the 89 games that it's been on the line, dating to 1903.

It was a little payback for Michigan, which was still haunted by visions of the Gophers storming the sideline at the Big House last year, grabbing the coveted jug and defiantly planting their flag in The Big House turf.

Michigan made a statement of its own in the rematch, driving 80 yards for a score on their opening possession. The mammoth offensive line overpowered Minnesota's smallish defensive front, mostly running Hart off left tackle for big gains.

Henne capped the drive by hitting Adrian Arrington for a 16-yard TD pass on third-and-10. Henne hooked up with Arrington again early in the second on a 37-yard score to make it 14-0.

Cupito's 21-yard TD to Payne in the second quarter cut the deficit in half, but it took the Wolverines less than 4 1/2 minutes to answer.

With the Gophers unable to stop the Wolverines rushing attack, defensive coordinator David Lockwood had no choice but to move his safeties up to help out. That left the Minnesota cornerbacks one-on-one with Michigan's receivers.

Not good.

Mario Manningham blazed past Jamal Harris on a post and hauled in a 41-yard touchdown pass from Henne to make it 21-7. Harris dived at Manningham's ankles just before the ball arrived, but wound up with a mouthful of turf as Manningham, who had five catches for 131 yards, celebrated in the end zone.

But the Wolverines were awfully sluggish in the final 30 minutes, squandering a first-and-goal from the 3 when Garrett Rivas missed a 23-yard field goal wide left.

Minnesota moved the ball reasonably well against Michigan's powerful defense, which came into the game No. 1 in the nation allowing just 18.5 yards rushing per game.

Amir Pinnix had 91 of the Gophers' 108 rushing yards, but penalties and missed opportunities kept them from competing in this one.

Cupito hit Ernie Wheelwright for a 38-yard touchdown in the third quarter that would have cut the deficit to 21-14, but Ryan Ruckdashel was called for holding on the play

After Kevin Grady's 1-yard TD run gave the Wolverines a 28-7 lead with just under 5:30 to play, Cupito hit Payne for another 21-yarder that cut the deficit to 28-14.

The Gophers recovered the onside kick, but Cupito's pass on fourth-and-goal from the 7 was incomplete, and Michigan closed it out on the ground.

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