Little Brown Jug owned by Ann Arbor crew
SALINE, MICHIGAN OCTOBER 7, 2004 It was November 15, 1986. The Wolverines, led by All-American quarterback Jim Harbaugh, were undefeated heading into the final home game of the season. Blue was ranked 2nd in the country and looking ahead to a possible national championship for coach Bo. The Golden Gophers shocked the Wolverines 20-17 in front of 104,864 cold and bitter M fans, and then took the Little Brown Jug home to Minnesota. The stunning upset remains one of the biggest games in Minnesota football history; to Michigan it is just another hiccup that denied Bo Schembechler a national title.
The next year Big Blue took the Jug back, and back it’s been since. Michigan has won 15 straight games against the Gophers, who have not found their form since the 1980s. Of course last year’s miracle win for Michigan was the closest the Gophers have come – and they’re still probably stinging from giving up 31 fourth quarter points to the John Navarre-led Big Ten Champions.
Saturday Minnesota comes back into Ann Arbor, hoping to take home the Jug and add this game as a defining moment in their modern football history. Michigan enters the game a 4 point favorite, with the #1 rushing defense in the country which will be tested against the Gophers, who have the #3 rushing offense.
A win would put Minnesota in good position for a Rose Bowl berth, as they avoid Purdue and Ohio State on the schedule this year. A win for Michigan means nothing other than preserving a decent season – they’ve still got a lot of work to do with games versus the Spartans, at Purdue and at Ohio State.
Looking over the home M schedule each year, you usually get a nice surprise like this. I remember thinking this would be a good game, but not the hyped-up match-up it is. Last year it was Purdue.
So what will happen? Look for a tight game, but I think Michigan is too tough at home on the turf. Henne looked great against Indiana, so let’s see how he does in the Big House. Make it Michigan 27 – Gophers 17.
Related: The Little Brown Jug Lore Series:
Part I: What Really Happened in the 1930s
Part II: Spinning Myths
Part III: Getting it Right
Part IV: 2013: A Space Quandary
Part V: Red Wing Roots
Part VI: Is the Greatest Trophy in College Sports a Fake?
Part VII: Open Questions