The Wolverines found themselves with 2 seconds on the clock facing the Golden Gophers on the ½ inch line. Coach Claeys went for the win instead of kicking a field goal to force an overtime situation and came up short. Michigan came to Minneapolis to bring home the Little Brown Jug, and they wouldn’t have it any other way. Jabrill Peppers said, “Well, I was one of the first ones to run over there and try and pick up the jug. Growing up a Michigan fan, I know there is something special about the Jug and it is an incredible feeling to have it back here in Ann Arbor.” The Wolverines finished the job today with a 29-26 victory.
With the announcement of Jerry Kill stepping down earlier this week, Minnesota was sure to bring a little more to the table to honor their beloved coach. While the marching band performed their tribute, fans around the stadium held signs, wore shirts honoring their coach and chanted their love for Coach Jerry.
Emotions elevated for the Wolverines when starting quarterback Jake Rudock was injured in the third quarter. According to Speight, “Well, when I saw Jake (Rudock) go down, I was not sure how serious it was. I didn’t know if I would be coming in for one play or the rest of the game. Coach Harbaugh and Coach Fisch prepare me and Shane (Morris) the same as they do Jake, just like we are starters, so I felt comfortable with the game plan and knew if I just went in and managed the offense and made the throws I needed to, then good things would happen.” Indeed, they did.
The scoring commenced with a Minnesota 23-yard field goal by Kicker Ryan Santoso, the first of four. Rashad Still scored a TD off a 52-yard pass from Leidner. In the 3rd quarter, Leidner also had a 24-yard TD run.
A first quarter run by Joe Kerridge put Michigan on the scoreboard. Jehu Chesson contributed with two TDs on passes from both Rudock and Speight. Jabrill Peppers had a 6-yard rushing TD.
Jabrill Peppers was utilized on offense producing 19 yards rushing, defense with two solo tackles and an assist and special teams with a 41-yard punt return and a 43-yard kickoff return. Coach’s response to Jabrill Peppers’ play, “Very explosive performance by Jabrill in all three phases. Very close to kicking out of a shoestring tackle on offense to score a long touchdown, the one he picked up the first down at midfield. He got into the end zone for us on a sweep play. I thought he made a good decision. We had a halfback pass dialed up. He kept it. The punt return game, he was one away from making that one go the distance. He’s an explosive, great player.”
As for the bizarre finish in today’s matchup, Coach Harbaugh stated, “It feels tremendous for the way the players played. A phenomenal learning experience for our men, to be able to win a tough one. It’s a great learning experience because it reinforces everything that you tell them about never giving up, fighting to the end and not letting them into the end zone. …The thing I’m most excited about is our team has learned a very important lesson and accomplished winning a really tough game.”
Next week the Wolverines host the Rutgers in the Big House at 3:30 ET.