Associated Press

No. 15 Michigan holds off Minnesota at the goal line to win Little Brown Jug

8 Comments

Playing its first game since head coach Jerry Kill‘s abrupt and emotional retirement just three days prior, Minnesota mounted a dramatic comeback to take the lead with 19 seconds remaining, seemingly giving the Gophers an emotional win. But Drew Leidner‘s pass to Drew Wolitarsky was downgraded from a 23-yard touchdown to a 22-yard completion after an official review, and Minnesota had the ball at the Michigan one-yard line with 19 seconds left.

With a timeout remaining, Minnesota lined up to run a play… and shifted… and shifted… and shifted some more. Seventeen seconds later, Leidner’s pass fell incomplete in the end zone. After a timeout, interim head coach Tracy Claeys elected to eschew an overtime-forcing field goal and play for the win. The Gophers called for a Leidner sneak and Michigan, which entered the game with college football’s second-ranked rush defense, held. The spot was upheld upon review, and No. 15 Michigan held on for a 29-26 win.

The Wolverines led 14-3 in the second quarter and 21-16 in the third, but Minnesota re-took the lead on a 24-yard Leidner run, and then pushed the score to 26-21 with a 47-yard Ryan Santoso field goal.

Michigan mounted a comeback despite starting quarterback Jake Rudock knocked from the game after a shot to the head, as backup Wilton Speight (who hadn’t completed a pass this season before tonight) rebounded from four consecutive punts to move the Wolverines 40 yards in seven plays and more than three-and-a-half minutes, punctuated with a 12-yard scoring strike to Jehu Chesson on 3rd-and-10 with just 4:57 remaining. Speight finished the night 3-of-6 for 29 yards in urgent action, while Rudock connected on 13-of-21 throws for 140 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

Minnesota accepted the ball at its own 25 on the ensuing possession and methodically moved its way down the field, converting a 3rd-and-17 at its own 18 and a 4th-and-5 at the Michigan 39. Two plays after Leidner hit K.J. Maye for a 12-yard gain on that do-or-die fourth down, he hit Wolitarsky for the apparent game-winning score.

And then, somehow, the Gophers snapped the ball only twice more in the final 19 seconds despite holding a timeout in its back pocket. One may wonder why Claeys, in his second stint now replacing Kill at Minnesota, did not call timeout from the sideline when it appeared Leidner (317 passing yards, 37 rushing, two total touchdowns) was unaware of  the rolling clock.

But he didn’t, and Michigan (6-2, 3-1) survived. The win reclaims some of the momentum lost in the shocking Michigan State loss two weeks ago and keeps the Wolverines alive in the Big Ten East race. Michigan will return to Ann Arbor next week to host Rutgers, then visit Penn State and Indiana in advance of Ohio State’s much-anticipated Nov. 28 visit to the Big House.

Minnesota drops to 4-4 (1-3 Big Ten) with the loss and puts the Gophers bowl hopes in jeopardy. Unless Minnesota pulls an upset at Ohio State next week or Iowa the week after, the Gophers will have to sweep Illinois and Wisconsin – winners of 11 straight in the series.

The loss also robbed Minnesota of its first back-to-back wins in the Little Brown Jug series since winning four straight from 1960-63. In a series dating back to 1892, Michigan now holds a 74-25-3 lead.

 

No. 8 Florida does just enough to top rival Miami and kickoff 2019 college football season

Getty Images
12 Comments

College football is finally, and officially, back.

In their first meeting in six years, No. 8 Florida did just enough to escape Orlando with a hard-fought 24-20 comeback victory over in-state rival Miami to kick off the 2019 season. Like many other Week 0 meetings too, the game had a bit of everything even if sharp play throughout was not one of them.

Turnovers, bone-headed penalties and a number of incredible touchdown scampers all served as highlights for the very first FBS game of the year and one that could set the tone for both programs in good ways and bad over the coming few months.

Gators quarterback Feleipe Franks was good early and late even if he was just so-so in the middle against a feisty ‘Canes defense. He wound up throwing for 254 yards, two touchdowns and two picks (with a rushing score as well) in the win, looking every bit like a player who may be better than a year ago but is playing behind a ton of new faces along the offensive line.

Wideout Kadarius Toney had the early highlight of the night when he weaved and spun out for a 66 yard touchdown catch while tailback Lamichael Perine was all over the field in rushing for 42 yards and catching a team-high six passes for 25 yards and a score as well.

If only Dan Mullen’s squad would have been able to hold onto the ball the final scoreline might not have looked so close. UF turned the ball over four times total, leading to quite a few appearances from the new-look Miami turnover chain.

That aggressive ‘Canes defense was as advertised for most of the contest even if they came up a bit short. While everybody knew that unit would hold up their end of the bargain, it was the offense that was the more pleasant surprise — and encouraging longterm development for new coach Manny Diaz. Quarterback Jarren Williams was sharp early and didn’t seem rattled at all by the stage in throwing for 214 yards and a touchdown. He did trail off a bit after halftime but considering the offensive line he was playing behind (one that gave up 10 sacks), it was still a fairly nice debut behind center and lends more credence to the thinking that Miami is the team to beat in the ACC Coastal.

Tailback DeeJay Dallas also contributed a nifty 50 yard touchdown as part of a 95 yard night on 12 carries while seven different receivers wound up catching a pass for a very new look offense.

The Hurricanes will still look back and think about all the ‘what if’s’ given the number of chances they had down the stretch in the fourth quarter but losing a close one to a top 10 team — even a rival like UF — doesn’t sting quite as bad when put in the perspective of last year’s disastrous run.

As for the victors, Mullen and company have to thank their lucky stars they escaped with the first win of the entire 2019 season in FBS given all the mistakes that were made. The Gators have plenty to clean up before the heart of their SEC slate approaches but it’s hard to fault the team too much for prevailing in a sloppy Week 0 meeting.

QB Jarren Williams off to a good start as Miami leads No. 8 Florida at halftime

Getty Images
3 Comments

The 2019 FBS college football season is officially underway.

No. 8 Florida was aggressive early on but missed a number chances to really take control of their much-anticipated opener against rival Miami as the Hurricanes scored late to take a 13-7 lead going into halftime of the Week 0 matchup down in Orlando.

Gators quarterback Feleipe Franks had a solid start to the game with 96 yards through the air and a touchdown pass to Kadarius Toneywho did most of the work in shedding tackles and weaving his way 66 yards for the score. Yards were predictably hard to come by on the ground against one of the best front sevens in the country and the Gators recorded only 49 yards on 16 carries at the break.

The story of the game though will undoubtedly prove to be the Hurricanes much maligned offense. Starting freshman signal-caller Jarren Williams had his moments and didn’t seem rattled at all, throwing for 158 yards on 12-of-14 passing with a late touchdown to boot. He engineered a game-opening field goal drive for the first points of the season and seemed to really settle in as the clocked kept ticking as the ceiling for the program seemed to elevate with each passing series.

Of course it helps when you can lean on a feisty defense that forced two turnovers, breaking out the latest edition of the turnover chain on fumble recoveries by Scott Patchan and Shaq Quarterman.

While we were not treated to the most entertaining first half of college football all things considered… does it really matter? These two rivals are certainly setting the stage for the rest of the 2019 season and doing so in an aggressive manner with plenty on the line despite the low score.

Urban Meyer is in Florida gear. Miami has a new Turnover Chain. Welcome back college football!

Getty Images
2 Comments

College football is back. Officially and absolutely back.

Yes the 2019 campaign is here in the sport that we all know and love and it has returned with a bang in Orlando as old rivals Miami and Florida kick off the 150 anniversary season. While the meeting between the Gators and Hurricanes is appetizing enough, we’re barely 30 minutes into the season and the two have already raised a few eyebrows around the country.

First off, let’s note that one Urban Meyer is at the game. It’s probably not all that surprising to hear considering the recently retired Ohio State head coach is now working for Fox Sports as an analyst. What is interesting is his choice of attire, in this case a Florida polo:

While some Gators fans are appreciative of him winning a pair of national titles in Gainesville, the ending did leave things a little sour so it will be interesting to see what kind of reaction the fan base has to their old coach showing up to watch his former assistant lead the program on Saturday night.

On the other sideline, it didn’t take long for Miami to breakout their newest edition of the famed ‘Turnover Chain.’ In this case the necklace is as gaudy as ever and quite a nod to the local area code. Defensive end Scott Patchan was the first of the season to be able to wear it when he recovered a fumble.

Welcome back college football, we’ve missed you for reasons like the ones above.

Miami CB D.J. Ivey suspended for opener, Florida adds four suspensions of their own

Getty Images
3 Comments

A time-honored tradition in college football is underway: Florida-based schools announcing suspensions as their opening game kicks off.

On Saturday in Orlando, both Miami and Florida confirmed a number of players would miss the Week 0 opener at Camping World Stadium that is serving as the first FBS game of the 2019 season.

Confirming earlier reports, the Hurricanes announced that likely starting cornerback D.J. Ivey did not make the trip for a violation of team rules. Al Blades Jr. got the nod in his place opposite veteran corner Trajan Bandy against the Gators.

Scoring perhaps the first victory of the night over their rivals, Florida appeared to one-up the visitors from Coral Gables with not one but four suspensions. Safety Brad Stewart, wideout Rick Wells, defensive back Pat Moorer and defensive tackle T.J. Slaton were held out “for not living up to the Gators standard” but no specifics were issued.

The old in-state rivals are meeting for the first time since 2013 and will shift to an on-campus set in 2024 and 2025 as part of a recently confirmed home-and-home series.