The Jug has resided in Ann Arbor since 2006. Can the Gophers bring it back to Minneapolis? (Photo by Danny Moloshok/Getty Images)
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Mention the words "Little Brown Jug" to any Big Ten football fan, and they will immediately know that you're talking about one of America's best, and most underrated, rivalry games. The Jug will once again be up for grabs this weekend at The Big House in Ann Arbor, Michigan, as the Minnesota Golden Gophers take their show on the road to battle the Michigan Wolverines in the 92nd battle for the hardware.
Unfortunately for Gopher fans, the "battle" has been a bit one-sided as of late, with the Gophers having taken home the Little Brown Jug only one time since 1986, a 23-20 victory over the Wolverines back in 2005. The last game between these two teams was in 2008, a 29-6 Wolverines victory at the Metrodome.
To say that the Gophers have had it rough lately would be an understatement. After their first four games of the 2011 season, at least a couple of which were thought to be potentially easy wins for Minnesota, the Gophers currently sit with a record of 1-3 under new head coach Jerry Kill. Kill will likely not be on the sidelines this Saturday, as he was hospitalized on Sunday after another bout with seizures. As you'll remember, Kill had a seizure on the sidelines late in the fourth quarter of Minnesota's loss to New Mexico State back on September 10, and says that he had at least twenty seizures between that time and when he checked himself into the Mayo Clinic on Sunday. One of Kill's long-time assistance, either offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover or defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys, will take over the head coaching duties for Kill in his absence.
The Wolverines, on the other hand, have been playing some very good football to start the season. Under new coach Brady Hoke, the Wolverines have raced off to a 4-0 start. The Wolverines' defense has stepped up markedly from last season, now allowing just 11.8 points per game over their first four contests. However, when you talk about Michigan football, the name that immediately comes out is that of quarterback Denard Robinson. One of college football's most dynamic athletes, if the Gophers harbor any hopes of a victory in this one, they will have to at least slow Robinson down.
Robinson is not a great quarterback, mind you. . .he has completed less than 50% of his passes and has thrown as many interceptions as he has touchdown passes this season (six of each). The real danger from Robinson comes from when he runs the football. Robinson is currently fourth in college football in rushing yardage. . .not in rushing yardage among quarterbacks, but rushing yardage overall. . .with 552 yards. He averages 7.8 yards per carry, and has scored five rushing touchdowns this season.
The Gophers are heavy underdogs in this one, and certainly face an uphill battle in their quest to bring home the Little Brown Jug for only the second time in a quarter of a century.
Kickoff for this game is scheduled for 11:00 AM Central time, and the game will be televised on the Big Ten Network.