Bo Schembechler did not lose many games against the Minnesota Gophers. In fact, he won nineteen out of twenty-one games involving the Little Brown Jug. When the Gophers did win, it was always a painful event for Bo and his Wolverines.
Bo won his first eight games against the Gophers including three shutouts. Schembechler’s first loss against Minnesota came on October 28, 1977. The folks in Minneapolis call this game the Minnesota Miracle. Bo probably called it something else!
The number one ranked Wolverines traveled to Minneapolis with a record of six wins and no losses. No one could stop Rick Leach and the Michigan offense. Michigan was averaging just over thirty-two (32.2) points per game and the defense was only giving up about seven points per contest.
Minnesota was off to a pretty good start in year number six of the Cal Stoll Era. The Gophers had a record of 4 wins and 2 losses heading into the Michigan game. However, the top ranked Wolverines were heavy favorites. Minnesota would need a super human effort from their players or a miracle − or both!
The Gophers stopped Rick Leach and Michigan’s option offense cold. Minnesota’s defense only allowed eighty yards on the ground. The Wolverines were gracious guests as they produced five turnovers that greatly aided Minnesota’s cause. Final Score: Minnesota 16 Michigan 0.
It was the first time that Michigan had been held scoreless in one hundred and eleven games (10/14/1967). The number one Wolverines dropped to number six the next week. They went on to win their last four conference games and earn a share of the conference title. Of course, the Gophers got to retrieve the Little Brown Jug from the Michigan bench and parade it around the field. Not fun for the Maize and Blue!
Fast forward to the 1978 season. Michigan wins their first four games, but the fifth ranked Wolverines are upset in Ann Arbor by Michigan State. Bo’s footballers blow out Wisconsin the next week by a score of 42-0.
Minnesota came to Ann Arbor with a record of 3 wins and 3 losses. However, they had won two straight games and looking to get on the winning side of the ledger against Michigan. Bo and his coaches made sure that there would be no more “miracles” in Ann Arbor. This time, Rick Leach and Michigan were ready. The game was basically over at the kickoff. Michigan won big. Final Score: Michigan 42 Minnesota 10. The Jug would stay in Ann Arbor until 1986, but that is another story for another day!
Michigan went on to win four more games and finished the regular season with a record of 10 wins, 1 loss and 0 ties. They went to the Rose Bowl and lost another heart breaker to USC 10-17. Even though they lost, the Wolverines finished the season as the fifth ranked team in the country in both the AP and UPI polls. For the third straight season, the Wolverines ended the year with a final record of 10 wins, 2 losses and 0 ties. So, Bo got some revenge, but came up short again in his quest for that elusive national championship.