Oct. 1, 2011
Site: Ann Arbor, Mich. (Michigan Stadium)
Score: #19 Michigan 58, Minnesota 0
Records: U-M (5-0, 1-0 Big Ten), Minnesota (1-4, 0-1 Big Ten)
Next U-M Game: Saturday, Oct. 8 -- at Northwestern (Evanston, Ill.), 6 p.m. CDT
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Junior running back Vincent Smith (Pahokee, Fla./Pahokee) had touchdowns rushing, passing and receiving in his team's first four drives as the University of Michigan football team (No. 19 AP/No. 19 USA Today Coaches) rolled past Minnesota, 58-0, on Saturday (Oct. 1) before a Michigan Stadium crowd of 111,106.
The Wolverines (5-0, 1-0 Big Ten) were nearly flawless in dominating the first half, piling up 384 yards of total offense and scoring on all six of their drives to build an insurmountable 31-0 halftime edge. Michigan, which rushed for more than 300 yards for the third straight game, improved to 5-0 for the second year in a row and won its Big Ten opener for the sixth consecutive year. With the largest margin of victory in the series, the Wolverines ran their winning streak against Minnesota to four games to retain the Little Brown Jug.
Smith was the triple-threat star of the first half, accounting for touchdowns three ways. Smith scored on a three-yard run on Michigan's first possession, threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to sophomore wide receiver Drew Dileo (Greenwell Springs, La./Parkview Baptist) on a halfback option to start the second quarter, and took a screen pass from junior quarterback Denard Robinson (Deerfield Beach, Fla./Deerfield Beach) and went 28 yards for another score on the following possession to make it 28-0 with 9:38 remaining in the half.
Using a diverse offense that at times featured sophomore quarterback Devin Gardner (Detroit, Mich./Inkster) under center and Robinson in a three-back set, Michigan scored on all six of its possessions in the opening half, going 80, 75, 85 and 69 yards for touchdowns on its first four drives. The Wolverines added a 25-yard field goal from junior/sophomore placekicker Brendan Gibbons (West Palm Beach, Fla./Cardinal Newman) and a 56-yard touchdown drive to close the half.
While the offense was accumulating 21 first downs in the first half, the Michigan defense held the Gophers to zero first downs in the opening quarter and just four for the half. The Wolverines put pressure on Minnesota freshman quarterback Max Shortell, a first-time starter, and got to him three times for drive-thwarting sacks from fifth-year senior defensive end Ryan Van Bergen (Whitehall, Mich./Whitehall), sophomore/freshman linebacker Jake Ryan (Westlake, Ohio/St. Ignatius) and sophomore defensive end Jibreel Black (Cincinnati, Ohio/Wyoming).
In the second half, Michigan went three-and-out on its first possession, but the Wolverines scored the next three times they had the ball, on a touchdown and two field goals, to lead 48-0 with 6:21 remaining in the third quarter. Junior/sophomore running back Fitzgerald Toussaint (Youngstown, Ohio/Liberty), who finished with 108 yards on 11 carries for his first career 100-yard game, capped a five-play, 54-yard drive with a one-yard leap up the middle to make it 45-0, and Gibbons tacked on field goals of 32 and a career-long 38 yards to make it 51-0 with 9:17 left in the game. Gibbons finished with career highs of 16 points, three field goals made and seven PATs.
The Golden Gophers were in position to spoil the shutout after taking over at midfield and moving to the Michigan 20-yard line with a long run, but on the next play freshman linebacker Brennen Beyer (Canton, Mich./Plymouth) forced a fumble that sophomore cornerback Courtney Avery (Mansfield, Ohio/Lexington) scooped up and took 83 yards down the left sideline to close the scoring at the 4:58 mark. Avery matched Leon Hall (Oct. 29, 2005, at Northwestern) for the longest fumble return in school history.
Freshman defensive back Blake Countess (Owings Mills, Md./Our Lady of Good Counsel) had five tackles, two pass breakups and a forced fumble to lead the defense, which posted its first shutout in Big Ten play in almost 10 years (Oct. 6, 2001, 20-0 at Penn State). Senior/junior linebacker Kenny Demens (Oak Park, Mich./Detroit Country Day) and junior defensive end Craig Roh (Scottsdale, Ariz./Chaparral) also contributed five tackles apiece.
Robinson did most of his damage in the first half, completing his first 11 passes on the way to 169 yards on 15-of-19 passing and two touchdowns. He rushed six times for 51 yards and another score, all in the first half.
Freshman running back Thomas Rawls (Flint, Mich./Flint Northern) ran for a career-best 73 yards on 10 carries in the second half and senior running back Michael Shaw (Trotwood, Ohio/Trotwood-Madison) rushed eight times for 60 yards as Michigan finished with 363 yards rushing and 217 passing for season bests of 580 total yards and 32 first downs.
Next week the Maize and Blue will hit the road for the first time this season when it visits Northwestern on Saturday (Oct. 8) for a 6 p.m. CDT game. The Big Ten Network will broadcast the game from Ryan Field in Evanston, Ill.
Contact: Justin Dickens (734) 763-4423