Michigan Delivers Embarrassing 52-10 Knockout Blow to Minnesota Gophers 2023 Season

NCAA Football: Michigan at Minnesota
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

The (3-3) Minnesota Gophers came into their week 6 matchup vs the (6-0) #2 Michigan Wolverines somewhat wobbled, through their first 5 games.

Almost like a boxer who’s survived into the middle rounds of a heavyweight fight, the Gophers had already been beat up and knocked down through 5 rounds weeks, but somehow found a way to win a couple of rounds along the way.

Minnesota Gophers vs Michigan Wolverines got ugly fast

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Minnesota needed a miracle vs Michigan on Saturday night, if they were going to take any hope into their week 7 bye. Unfortunately, any chance at a miracle pretty much died on the Gophers’ first drive of the night, when QB Athan Kaliakmanis threw a pick-6 on the 2nd play of the game.

Apologists will say that the Gophers should feel good about hanging with Michigan in the 1st half. But in all reality, they didn’t. Minnesota started their final drive of the 2nd quarter down 24-3. PJ Fleck was so afraid of the score getting more lopsided, before the break, that he actually started killing clock with 1.5 minutes left and the Gophers barely across midfield.

But, the football gods felt bad for Minnesota Gopher fans, so they paid Fleck off for his conservatism with a 45-yard bomb from Athan to Daniel Jackson for a touchdown, the only one the Gophers would get all night. In fact, it was pretty much their only explosive play on the evening.

The Minnesota Gophers may have went into halftime, after that play, with a little bit of hope. And, they even came out of the break with a few opportunities to make it a game, because their defense stopped Michigan from scoring on their first two drives of the 3rd quarter.

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Joe Rossi’s defense continues to struggle

But, to no avail. And it wasn’t because of a couple of bad breaks or poor play on Minnesota’s part, that led to this blowout. Don’t let anyone tell you different. The 2023 Michigan Wolverines are just on a completely different level than the 2023 Minnesota Gophers.

Joe Rossi’s defense looks like a shell of itself this season and they were downright exhausted in the 2nd half, trying to hang with a Michigan offense that had them overpowered in every single facet of the game.

Hell, how are we to expect Minnesota defenders to tackle Michigan’s skill position players when they can’t even tackle their mostly pocket-passer quarterback, who ran for two touchdowns on the night.

Athan Kaliakmanis downright scared of Michigan defense

It became clear, as the drubbing dragged on Saturday night, that Athan Kaliakmanis is nowhere near as ready to lead a Big Ten team through a gauntlet season, as we thought he was, entering fall camp. He looked flustered and downright afraid vs the Wolverines.

Kaliakmanis finished his night with an ugly 5 for 16 (31%) for 52 yards and 2 interceptions. His 35-yard end-of-half touchdown to Jackson accounted for nearly 2/3 of his passing production in the game.

I know PJ Fleck loves the kid, and I do too. He’s going to say all the right things at the end of the game and take responsibility for his part in tonight’s loss, which he’ll feel was enormous. But, this is power 5 college football and the Big Ten is only getting better and more explosive next season.

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If Kaliakmanis doesn’t show an incredible amount of improvement over the final 6-7 games, Fleck needs to look in the mirror and then dive hard into the QB transfer portal. Maybe he doesn’t find a quarterback who’s hands-down a better option than Athan.

But if PJ were to find an obvious upgrade in said transfer portal hunt, it’s his responsibility to make a move.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan

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