MINNEAPOLIS -- Wilton Speight came off the bench and threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Jehu Chesson with under 5 minutes to play and No. 15 Michigan stopped Mitch Leidner on a sneak as time expired to escape with a 29-26 victory over Minnesota on Saturday night.
In his first game as interim head coach since Jerry Kill's surprising retirement for health reasons, Minnesota interim coach Tracy Claeys elected to go for the win over a potential tying field goal with the ball on the 1 and 2 seconds left. But Leidner's plunge was stuffed by Ryan Glasgow and Joe Bolden, allowing Michigan (6-2, 3-1 Big Ten) to take back the Little Brown Jug after losing it in Ann Arbor last year.
More from FoxSports
Leidner was 16 for 33 for a career-high 317 yards and a touchdown for the Golden Gophers (4-4, 1-3). He was clutch on the final possession, converting a fourth-and-5 with a 12-yard strike to K.J. Maye and hitting Drew Wolitarsky on a 22-yard fade to put the ball at the 1 with 19 seconds to play.
Wolitarsky's catch initially was ruled a touchdown, but replays showed his knee was down on the 1. Apparently, the Gophers didn't realize that the clock would start as soon as the ball was placed again, and they nearly let time expire before Leidner's pass to the flat hit the ground with 2 seconds to play.
Gophers kicker Ryan Santoso had already made four field goals, but Claeys decided to roll the dice.
The offensive line got no push against Michigan's stout front and Glasgow and Bolden made sure Leidner made it nowhere near the goal line. After the review confirmed the play, the Wolverines stormed the Minnesota sideline to take back the oldest rivalry trophy in college football.
Speight was 3 for 6 for 29 yards in place of Jake Rudock after the starter was knocked out of the game late in the third quarter when Andrew Stelter knocked his helmet off with a hit to the head and neck area. Rudock was 13 of 21 for 140 yards and a touchdown.
Chesson had three catches for 33 yards and two touchdowns and the Wolverines came out of an off week with a much-needed win after a deflating loss to rival Michigan State on Oct. 17. They lost that game on the final play when punter Blake O'Neill fumbled the ball and the Spartans returned it for a touchdown.
Facing the possibility of a second straight loss on the final play, the Wolverines rose to the occasion.
Brandon Lingen had five catches for 111 yards and a touchdown and Santoso's 47-yard kick put the Gophers up 26-21 with under 12 minutes left.
Speight missed on his first three passes of the game after coming on in relief of Rudock.
Speight responded with the strike to Chesson, then kept his composure under duress, stepped up in the pocket and hit Amara Darboh for the 2-point conversion with 4:57 to play.
It was a crushing loss for the Gophers, who came into TCF Bank Stadium overflowing with emotions following Kill's abrupt retirement. The coaching lifer gave a tear-filled press conference Wednesday to announce that his epilepsy would no longer allow him to keep up the grueling work load of a major college coach.
Just before kickoff, Leidner grabbed a maroon and gold flag with the word "Jerrysota" on it and took it to the student section, emphatically waving it to charge up the crowd.
Jabrill Peppers and Joe Kerridge also scored touchdowns for Michigan.