Ann Arbor, MI (SportsNetwork.com) - Fitzgerald Toussaint carried 17 times for 78 yards and a pair of touchdowns to lead No. 19 Michigan to a 42-13 win over Minnesota and claim its sixth straight Little Brown Jug.
The Wolverines have now beaten the Gophers, who were without head coach Jerry Kill after he suffered a seizure early Saturday morning, in 22 of the last 23 meetings in this historic rivalry. They improved to 73-24-3 all-time over the Gophers.
Kill, who has epilepsy, started feeling ill Friday night and had his fifth seizure since being hired as head coach of Minnesota (4-2, 0-2 Big Ten) in 2011. Kill was not hospitalized but stayed home to recover and defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys served as acting head coach for Saturday's tilt.
"We've been through a lot of battles together and we're good friends. We're all trained very well on what our job is and what our responsibilities are," said Claeys. "I thought we competed hard. We've got an off week to work on fundamentally getting better and preparing for our next game."
Devin Gardner was efficient in leading the Michigan (5-0, 1-0) attack, completing 13-of-17 passes for 235 yards and a touchdown. Gardner also rushed for a score and did not commit a turnover for the first time this season.
"Today I was able to manage the game and be pretty efficient on third downs," said Gardner. "I felt like we played really, really well."
Tight end Devin Funchess had a career day for the Wolverines, hauling in seven catches for 151 yards and a touchdown. Jeremy Gallon had just two catches for 39 yards but extended his streak of consecutive games with a reception to 31, fourth-best in program history.
Mitch Leidner went 14-of-21 with a touchdown and an interception in his second collegiate start for the visitors. The redshirt freshman also ran 18 times for 66 yards in defeat.
Michigan scored first after Jibreel Black forced a Leidner fumble on the Gophers' opening possession. The Wolverines took over at the Minnesota 35 and scored in six plays without throwing a pass. Toussaint carried four times for 21 yards on the drive and scored from eight yards out.
"We wanted to run the ball, and we wanted to send that message," said Michigan head coach Brady Hoke. "I thought we did a pretty good job of it."
Minnesota responded with an impressive touchdown drive, its longest of the season, which burned most of the first quarter clock. Leidner orchestrated the 16-play, 75-yard trek that spanned nearly 10 minutes. The Gophers were a perfect 5-for-5 on third down as Leidner lofted a pass for Maxx Williams in the back of the end zone for a 7-yard touchdown connection.
A Michigan drive was derailed midway through the second quarter when Funchess couldn't haul in a 3rd-and-8 look from Gardner in traffic. The Wolverines caught a break however when Matt Wile drilled a punt that was downed inside the Minnesota 1.
A quick three-and-out put the Maize and Blue in terrific field position late in the half, and Gardner took advantage when he hooked up with Funchess, who corralled a pass and broke a tackle en route to his 24-yard touchdown catch.
Michigan added to its 14-7 halftime lead on the opening drive of the second half. Gardner marched his offense down the pitch in nine plays, mixing in positive gains on the ground and through the air. A 21-yard hookup with Funchess on 3rd-and-11 put the Wolverines on the opposing 2, and Derrick Green trucked a defender as he fell into the end zone for a 21-7 advantage.
Chris Hawthorne's 44-yard field goal made it a two possession game, but Toussaint scored again with 11 seconds left in the third period to put the Wolverines up, 28-10. Toussaint took a handoff from Gardner at the Minnesota 12, juked to his right and avoided a pair of arm tackles before sprinting towards the pylon.
The Gophers' kicker added a 27-yarder early in the fourth, but Michigan scored the final 14 points to secure the win.
Gardner's 2-yard rushing score late in the fourth gave Michigan a 35-13 edge and on the ensuing possession, Blake Countess intercepted Leidner and scampered 72 yards untouched for the final tally. The pick was Countess' fourth of the season.
Gardner did not attempt a pass in the first quarter ... Toussaint surpassed 2,000 career rushing yards ... The announced attendance was 111,079, giving Michigan at least 100,000 fans in 248 consecutive home games dating back to 1975 ... Michigan remained undefeated in 18 home games under Brady Hoke ... The Wolverines were penalized just twice for 10 yards and converted 10-of-13 on third down ... Michigan scored a touchdown on all five trips to the red zone ... Leidner threw for 145 yards.