MINNEAPOLIS -- Under the big pillowy top of the Metrodome at least, Michigan is still Michigan.
The much-maligned Wolverines defense swarmed like the Michigan of old and the ground game racked up 232 yards in a 29-6 victory over the Gophers that keeps the Little Brown Jug where it has resided for most of its existence.
K.C. Lopata kicked five field goals and Greg Mathews had six catches for 79 yards and a touchdown for Michigan (3-7, 2-4 Big Ten), which snapped a five-game losing streak that knocked it out of bowl season for the first time in 35 years. Even in the worst of times, and things have been pretty dire in Rich Rodriguez's first season on the job, the Wolverines have never lost in the Metrodome in 12 tries.
Adam Weber had a rough day for Minnesota (7-3, 3-3), throwing for just 105 yards. He was sacked four times and intercepted once, looking lost without roommate and star receiver Eric Decker, who tried to play on a badly sprained ankle but sat out the entire second half.
Morgan Trent had the interception and crushed Decker, the Big Ten's leading receiver, on his only catch of the game.
The Gophers were sloppy from the start; no match for a Michigan defense that entered the game last in the Big Ten in scoring defense and passing defense.
They were outgained 435-188 and managed only one first down in a mistake-filled first half. It was the first time in coach Tim Brewster's 22-game tenure that the Gophers haven't scored a touchdown.
Michigan's defense simply wouldn't allow it. After giving up an average of 43 points a game in the last three weeks, the Wolverines tied a season low with their six points allowed on two field goals by Joel Monroe.
On offense, the Wolverines picked up where Northwestern left off last weekend, gashing an improved Minnesota defense with big runs by the quarterback.
Wildcats backup quarterback Mike Kafka rushed for 217 yards last week to hand the Gophers a crushing homecoming loss, and Rodriguez sprinkled in fleet-footed freshman Justin Feagin throughout the game to take direct snaps off tackle.
Feagin's 34-yard dash late in the second quarter set up an 8-yard scoring pass from Nick Sheridan to Mathews that gave Michigan a 16-0 lead.
Sheridan, who started for the injured Steven Threet, threw for 203 yards and rushed for 33 and Feagin rushed for 49 yards on seven carries.
A vocal contingent of Michigan backers chanted "Let's Go Blue!" as the fourth quarter opened with their team up 22-3, the first time in six weeks this team has given them anything to cheer about.
Mark Moundros added a late touchdown run for the Wolverines, who calmly walked to the sideline at the game's conclusion to hoist the Jug, college football's oldest rivalry trophy.
But as Brewster said earlier in the week, this has been no rivalry. Minnesota has taken the Jug home just twice in the last 31 years.