Friday, October 10, 2008

Minnesota vs Michigan: October 2003

Big Ten Network showed a replay of the 2003 Minnesota vs Michigan game, in which Michigan scored 31 points in the 4th quarter to steel the game from the Gophers.

The Gophers were 6-0 going into the game, on their way to a 10-3 season, and sitting in the Metrodome, I remember having the most sinking, helpless feeling just sitting there watching it slip through our fingers. I hated that game.

So why would I sit and relive this experience? I have no idea. But here are some thoughts while watching the replay.

*The Gophers were ranked #13 in the nation coming into this game, Michigan was ranked #19.

*Mike Golic is the color commentator on this game... weird.

*I did not remember this, but that 2003 team had Barber, Maroney AND Thomas Tepah. Not to mention the fact that Asad Abdul-Kaliq could run the ball pretty well himself. That Gopher team didn't do much passing... they didn't have to. How did we not win a Big10 championship that year again?

*The Gophers just got called for a delay-of-game penalty and Glen Mason looked like he had no idea what happened. I remember that look well, and I don't miss that look.

*The Gophers opening drive in this game was absolutely classic for those days. 12 plays, 80 yards, capped off by a 20 yard touchdown run that was vintage Barber: over someone, through someone, and then around someone.

*I had forgotten how crappy the old Metrodome turf looked. Not that the new stuff is much better.

*The Gophs second touchdown was a Maroney run form 9 yards out... remember those days? Two backs that you could count on and an almost dominant offensive line. Ahhhh, memories. 2003 was a fun year.

*Halftime: Gophers 14, Michigan 0.

*One of the more enjoyable things about watching this is watching Marion Barber in a Gopher jersey again. Half way through the 3rd quarter he's got 156 yards rushing on 13 carries, and 1 TD.
I love guys who work hard for every yard, who enjoy running somebody over but who are also athletic enough to run around you, and in that category Barber is one of the best. I like watching him with the Cowboys... but it's so much more fun remembering him in that Gopher jersey.

*Speaking of guys I miss, Laurence Maroney just scored another touchdown on about a 40 yard run. He made everything look so easy, even as a freshman. He was patient enough to find the hole and when he got through it... GONE!!!

*Here we go folks, 4th quarter coming up... Gophers up 28-7. Pretty interesting to remember how good it felt after 3 quarters to be beating Michigan and thinking we were on our way to getting the Little Brown Jug back. Clearly one trait Mason's teams did NOT have was the ability to get someone down, and then bury them. I distinctly remember being uneasy at this point in the game because they were Michigan, and we... well, you know how it goes.

Meltdown coming.

*Another thing I remember very clearly is how non-existent our pass rush was in those days. There was very little blitzing from those teams, and up 28-7 at the beginning of the 4th quarter the Gophers started to go extra conservative. 3 man rushes, no blitzes. I recall my buddy Porta and I screaming for a blitz or another pass rusher or anything.

*This is why we were uneasy... Navarre to Chris Perry, screen pass, TD. 28-14 Gophers.

*The Gophs ran for over 400 yards in this game... against Michigan... and lost... staggering.

*Abdul-Kaliq just made one of his classic bad decisions. Under pressure, in the grasp of a defender, tried to throw a pass out to the flat... interception returned for a TD. Abdul-Kaliq was a pretty good quarterback, he could make a lot of things happen and was a real play-maker, but he had a tendency to make some poor decisions at inopportune times. He should have taken the sack on that play or thrown it away. 28-21 Gophers.

*Thomas Tepah was a nice option in this offense on short-yardage situations. This is something I think the current version of the Gophers offense lacks.

*4th & 1 from the Michigan 48 yard line, and Asad Abdul-Kaliq made a great decision. An option to the right, Abdul-Kaliq picked a hole through the middle and he is GONE!!! 52 yards up the middle!!! I remember things were starting to feel a little bit better at this point and I was dreaming of the Jug. 35-21 Gophers.

*Navarre to Braylon Edwards (he was pretty good wasn't he?) for about a 55 yard TD pass. I was getting pretty uncomfortable at this point. 35-28 Gophers.

*I want to die.

*Greg Hudson's defense was porous. Chris Perry up the middle untouched from from the 10 yard line. 35-35... tie ballgame folks.

*This sucks. Why am I watching this?

*Golic just said "The Minnesota sideline, I would say, looks stunned." Yeah, no crap Golic. You should have seen how we looked in the stands.

*4 touchdowns in under 10 minutes of football... I was there when it happened, and I just watched it happen again, and I still can't believe it.

*Glen Mason looks completely perplexed.

*I just threw up a little bit in my mouth.

*At this point the Gophers and the coaching staff clearly gave up. On our next drive after Michigan scored we ran up the middle on first down for 2 yards, ran an option on 2nd down for 4 yards, and threw... THREW!!! on 3rd & 4 even though we had run for over 400 yards already that day. A terrible pass from Kaliq. 4 & out.

*This is hard to watch. Why am I watching this without beer?

*2:20 left in the game, the Gophers do a nice job of stopping Michigan on 1st & 2nd down. It's 3rd & 9... and here comes the Gophers calling card... giving up a first down on 3rd & long... another screen pass to Chris Perry for the first.

*Did I mention that this is hard to watch? Shoot me.

*Classic Gopher luck: 2nd down for Michigan, handoff to Chris Perry, he gets through the line then FUMBLE!!! Michigan recovers. Crap! Then Michigan does the smart thing and takes a knee on the next play, then they kick the field goal, a 33 yarder right down the middle, for their first lead of the game, with :47 to play.

*This is excruciating... why did I decide to DVR this? I'm an idiot.

*Blah, blah, blah, the Gophers try to move the ball, they throw a hail mary, it's picked off, blah, blah, blah.

*This was a horrible idea. I wish I hadn't done this. If you see the Big Ten's Greatest Games on the Big Ten Network and the game is this game... DO NOT watch it, DO NOT record it... just don't. Please, I'm begging you. Don't put yourself through what I just put myself through. Seriously, I'm an idiot. Please learn from my idiocy.

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