|Wolverines pull away in Big Ten opener|
|Written by Matt Pargoff|
Coming off back-to-back tight games, the Wolverines had something to prove going into Big Ten play against Minnesota on Saturday. While the Golden Gophers were effective in controlling the flow of the game early to shorten the first half, the Wolverines found their footing on offense to pull away for a 42-13 victory.
Starting with a 38-yard touchdown drive late in the third quarter, the Wolverines offense caught fire, scoring touchdowns on four of five possessions. With Minnesota putting together only long field goal drives to answer, the Maize and Blue were able to pull away.
Michigan did not attempt a pass until the midway through the second quarter, but quarterback Devin Gardner ultimately finished with a strong performance. The redshirt junior completed 13-of-17 passes for 235 yards and one touchdown, adding another score on the ground.
His favorite target was sophomore tight end Devin Funchess, who worked extensively at wide receiver, to pull in seven catches for 151 yards.
“Getting him out on the perimeter a little bit is a mismatch because he runs awfully well and he’s a big target,” said head coach Brady Hoke after the game. “We’re just trying to really take advantage of his skillsets.”
The Wolverines had struggled with turnovers during the non-conference slate, which was a major contributing factor to the team’s struggles. In the Big Ten opener, they avoided the problem that plagued them in previous games.
“It’s huge, noted Hoke. “We had no turnovers, had two penalties. I think that speaks to how these guys have really worked in the bye week. I think it came at a good time for us in a lot of ways and it was good to see us respond.”
Fitzgerald Toussaint carried the ball 17 times for 78 yards and two touchdowns. He was followed by true freshman Derrick Green, who was involved earlier in the game than previous weeks, picking up 23 yards and scoring a touchdown.
“We wanted to run the ball,” stated Hoke. “I think we did a pretty good job of it. We didn’t have as much yardage probably as we’d like to have, but I really believe the threat was there consistently throughout the game.”
The Wolverines retained possession of the Little Brown Jug, defeating Minnesota for the 22nd time in the last 23 meetings.
Minnesota was without head coach Jerry Kill, who suffered a seizure before the game.
The Wolverines will return to action next week at Penn State, with the game starting at 5:00 p.m. eastern. The Nittany Lions fell to Indiana 44-24, surrendering 23 points in the fourth quarter.