Minnesota pulled off the biggest upset of the college football season Saturday on the strength of what Coach John Gutekunst called “gutter points.”
Chip Lohmiller kicked a 30-yard field goal as time ran out, and the Golden Gophers stunned second-ranked Michigan, 20-17, in a Big Ten game.
The heavily favored Wolverines turned the ball over five times, resulting in the Gophers’ first 17 points.
“It was a great job that Chip Lohmiller did out there today,” Gutekunst said. “We made gutter points on their mistakes.
“That was a great effort by a group of seniors that had to endure a lot of changes, stigmas against an athletic program, and changes in the coaching staff. To hang together and beat an awfully fine football team in their own stadium is something.”
The defeat snapped Michigan’s unbeaten streak at 15 games and ended the Wolverines’ hopes for a national championship. Michigan dropped to 9-1 for the season, 6-1 in the Big Ten, as Ohio State took over first place in the conference.
The Wolverines will have to win next Saturday in their annual showdown at Columbus, Ohio. If Michigan can beat Ohio State, the Wolverines and Buckeyes would tie for the Big Ten title and Michigan would go to the Rose Bowl based on victory in the head-to-head meeting. An Ohio State win or a tie would send the Buckeyes to Pasadena Jan. 1.
“My hat’s off to Minnesota,” Michigan Coach Bo Schembechler said. “I think they played a great football game today. We made too many mistakes. They capitalized on them and they won the ballgame.
“We’re not a turnover team. We have not made those mistakes until today. It just seemed that everything we did backfired.”
Schembechler was bidding to become Michigan’s all-time leader in coaching victories, but remains tied with Fielding H. Yost at 165.
Minnesota, which beat Michigan under similar circumstances to spoil the Wolverines’ 1977 season, improved to 6-4 and 5-2. The two upsets represent the only times Minnesota has beaten a Michigan team coached by Schembechler.
“I never felt good about the game, even when we drove in and tied it up,” Schembechler said. “I never felt we had it all together. We were really fortunate to be at 17-all before they won it.”
Minnesota quarterback Rickey Foggie led the Gophers’ attack, passing for one touchdown and running for another.
Foggie’s 31-yard run to the Michigan 17-yard line from a first-and-10 situation set up Lohmiller’s winning field goal.
“We beat a great team,” Foggie said. “If I was ranking, I’d still leave Michigan at No. 2. Those guys went out and played hard.”
Michigan linebacker Andy Moeller said he couldn’t explain how Foggie broke free.
“I don’t know how there was such a big gap there,” Moeller said. “We just lost him.”
Moeller, like the rest of the stunned Wolverines, tried to put on a brave face.
“I want to play in the Rose Bowl,” said Moeller, a co-captain. “It’s been a goal of the team and me since the beginning of the season and we can still go.
“This does not ruin the season. My gosh, we’re 9-1.”
Lohmiller also kicked a 25-yard field goal.
Thomas Wilcher scored on an eight-yard run for Michigan, Gerald White scored on a one-yard dive and Mike Gillette kicked a 35-yard field goal for the Wolverines.
White’s touchdown came with 2:26 remaining, but Foggie led the Gophers 58 yards in eight plays for the clinching field goal.
“This is probably the biggest kick I’ve made in college football,” Lohmiller said. “I was nervous, but I blocked out the sound.