'U' can't forget it

Gophers can make amends for last year's collapse againt Michigan

By Andres Ybarra

Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- For the Minnesota Gophers, the biggest memory of last season might not be starting out 6-0. Or winning Paul Bunyan's Axe back from Wisconsin at the Metrodome. Or even Rhys Lloyd's game-winning kick at the Sun Bowl.

It just might be their fourth quarter collapse against Michigan.


Leading by three touchdowns entering the fourth quarter, all the Gophers needed to do was play solid defense to beat Michigan for the first time in 15 years and improve to 7-0.

All the Gophers needed was one more quarter.

Turns out, it was all the Wolverines needed, too. Michigan won 38-35.

The memories are unavoidable heading into this week's game between the 13th-ranked Gophers (5-0, 2-0 Big Ten) and the No. 14 Wolverines, if nothing else because of the countless questions posed by reporters.

"We've got to make sure we play four quarters this year," said sophomore quarterback Bryan Cupito, who was a redshirt freshman for last year's game.

The Wolverines (4-1, 2-0) remember it pretty well also. Without the John Navarre-led comeback, the Wolverines would have been regarded as one of college football's disappointments.

"It's definitely the most thrilling game I've ever been a part of on any level," Wolverines receiver Braylon Edwards said.

Minnesota led 28-7 entering the quarter and wound up losing when Garrett Rivas kicked a 33-yard field goal with 47 seconds to play, ensuring that the Little Brown Jug would head back to Ann Arbor.


Michigan credited that win with turning around its season, which ended in the Rose Bowl. The Gophers would lose two more games and settle for the Sun Bowl.

Gophers coach Glen Mason brushed aside questions this week about revenge.

"You really think I've got to remind them we blew a 21-point lead in the fourth quarter against Michigan last year? I don't think so," Mason said.

"That's not something we're very proud of, but that's not Michigan's fault," Mason said. "Credit Michigan. They did what they're supposed to do. But we're not going to watch last year's film any more than we do any other week."

If the Gophers, or anyone for that matter, want to watch film of last year's debacle, they can simply turn on their television sets. That game has been shown recently on ESPN Classic, and will probably be replayed when the network airs 18 hours of Michigan and Minnesota programming leading up to Saturday's kickoff.

Mason likely won't be watching.

"You waste time thinking about last year," Mason said. "I got enough things on my plate trying to figure out how to make an extra point."

He's referring, of course, to Minnesota's recent kicking woes. The Gophers had two field goals and an extra point blocked in last weekend's 16-7 win against Penn State.


Other than special teams, though, the Gophers look like an even tougher team than the Wolverines faced last year, when Michigan gave up 424 yards rushing. And Minnesota's defense has improved over the last couple of games.

But the Gophers aren't the only ones who feel last year's game left them with something to prove. The Wolverines want to show they're a better team than the one that allowed Minnesota to run all over them a year ago.

"We know we can't let that happen this year," Michigan safety Ryan Mundy said. "That is a lot of motivation for us.

"We've been waiting for it too."

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