Despite Struggles vs. Ohio State, Michigan Has Dominated “Little Brown Jug” Rivalry

Looking back to 2021, it was a vitally important year for Jim Harbaugh and Michigan.

The Wolverines got off the schneid against Ohio State, won the Big Ten and reached the College Football Playoff for the first time. Perhaps what fans in Ann Arbor are proudest of is the win over the Buckeyes. It was just the third against their arch-rivals since 2000.

Time will tell whether Michigan is ultimately able to swing that rivalry back in its favor. While the rivalry has been a painful one for those in maze and blue over the last couple decades, Michigan had delivered its fair share of pain to other rivals.

Perhaps most notably is Minnesota. The Wolverines have absolutely dominated the Golden Gophers, and the “Little Brown Jug” has essentially stayed in Ann Arbor since the turn of the century.

The Little Brown Jug since 2000

  • Michigan leads 13-2
  • Total Score: Michigan 508, Minnesota 262
  • Average Score: Michigan 33.8, Minnesota 17.4

While we try to stay modern and relevant at Fifth Quarter, the dominance of this rivalry extends way past this millennium. All-time, Michigan leads the series 76-25-3. Since 1970, Michigan holds a 40-4 record against the Golden Gophers.

Minnesota saw the most success against Michigan during The Great Depression, transitioning into World War II. From 1934 to 1942, the Golden Gophers experienced nine consecutive wins over the Wolverines. The 1940 and 1941 matchups were each top-3 showdowns.

What stinks is that due to conference realignment and the teams being in separate Big Ten divisions, they play sparingly. Even though they are in the same conference, the two have only played twice in the past five seasons.

Unless they meet in the Big Ten Championship game — these two only have one combined appearance since its inception — they won’t play again until 2023. So let’s leave with a few questions:

  • Will Minnesota head coach P.J. Fleck ever experience a win over Michigan?
  • Why has this rivalry series has been so lopsided?
  • Do you care if this rivalry game happens yearly or not?

Feel free to answer in the comments section.

Featured image courtesy of Minnesota athletics