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No. 2 Michigan romps past Minnesota 52-10 with pair of pick-6s for 17th straight win in Big Ten

WCCO digital headlines: Morning of Oct. 7, 2023
WCCO digital headlines: Morning of Oct. 7, 2023 01:03

Will Johnson returned an interception 36 yards for a Michigan score on Minnesota's second snap, a spark the second-ranked Wolverines maintained from start to finish in a 52-10 victory over the Gophers on Saturday night.

J.J. McCarthy completed 14 of 20 passes for 219 yards and had a career-high two rushing touchdowns to help Michigan (6-0, 3-0 Big Ten) stretch its conference winning streak to 17 for the second-longest run in program history.

Michigan beat Minnesota on the road for the 18th straight time. The Wolverines have beaten the Gophers (3-3, 1-2) for the Little Brown Jug trophy 43 times in their last 47 matchups.

Keon Sabb had a 28-yard touchdown return of an interception in the third quarter, giving the Wolverines a pair of pick-sixes in a game for the first time since Sept. 9, 2017, against Cincinnati. Sabb's leaping grab of a third down throw by Athan Kaliakmanis gave Michigan a 45-10 lead that earned McCarthy the rest of the game off while Jack Tuttle and Jayden Denegal split the fourth quarter.

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Kaliakmanis, a sophomore in his first season as the full-time starter, went 5 for 16 for 52 yards and a 35-yard touchdown pass to Daniel Jackson late in the second quarter. Kaliakmanis took two sacks and was overwhelmed by Michigan's deep, fast and punishing defense, starting on the second play from scrimmage when he dropped back and tried to throw to Jackson near the sideline.

The ball sailed high enough for Johnson to break on it and race untouched into the end zone. Even coach Jim Harbaugh joined the group photo pose by the defense on the sideline afterward, and the smiles stayed with the Wolverines the rest of the night.

This was Michigan's largest margin of victory in a Big Ten game since beating Rutgers 52-0 in 2019. Minnesota's last loss this big was 52-10 to Ohio State in 2010.

Blake Corum had 69 rushing yards and a score on a season-low nine carries, Leon Franklin added a late rushing touchdown and Michigan outgained Minnesota 432-169 in total yards. The Wolverines topped the 30-point mark for a program-record ninth straight game, according to Sportradar.

Though the Wolverines let an opponent hit double digits for the first time this year, their defense — which leads the FBS with an average of 6.7 points allowed per game — again had plenty to be proud of. Defensive tackle Mason Graham returned from a two-game injury absence with a heavily wrapped left hand and had a team-high six tackles — two for loss with one sack.


Michigan leads the series 77-25-3. The last time Minnesota won at home was in 1977. The Gophers won at Michigan in 2014, 2005 and 1986, when the Wolverines were also ranked No. 2 and quarterbacked by Harbaugh.


Michigan's 17-game conference winning streak, which excludes the Big Ten championship game last year, trails only a 19-game run from 1990-1992. Ohio State has the three longest Big Ten winning streaks in league history, including the 30-game record-setter from 2012-2015. The last conference loss for the Wolverines was to rival Michigan State on Oct. 30, 2021.


Michigan: The Wolverines might not be tested until their Nov. 11 game at No. 6 Penn State. Whether that matters or not in the end is hard to tell.

Minnesota: With the Big Ten's leading rusher Darius Taylor out with a leg injury for the second straight game, the Gophers were simply too short on skill to keep up with the Wolverines.


Michigan: The Wolverines host Indiana next Saturday afternoon. They've won 27 of the last 28 games against the Hoosiers, losing on the road in 2020 in a mostly empty stadium due to the pandemic.

Minnesota: After a bye week, the Gophers play at rival Iowa on Oct. 21. They've lost eight straight games for the Floyd of Rosedale bronze pig trophy and have not beaten the Hawkeyes on the road since 1999.

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