MINNEAPOLIS -- The number that follows Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh is his record against Ohio State and other top-ranked programs.
Meanwhile, Gophers coach P.J. Fleck has a record of his own that could start to stick to him.
With the No. 18 Wolverines’ comfortable 49-24 win over No. 21 Minnesota in Saturday’s season opener at TCF Bank Stadium, the U’s fourth-year coach has fallen to 2-7 in rivalry trophy games.
Fleck’s resume has upset wins over Penn State a year ago and at Wisconsin two years ago — indelible victories that are top exhibits on program’s upward trajectory — but they’re increasingly outweighed.
Fleck is now 0-2 in games for the Little Brown Jug and while the 2017 blowout could be viewed as a mulligan in a deep rebuilding year, Saturday’s game was supposed to be more competitive than that — set up in prime-time on national TV.
The Gophers defense, which needed to replace seven starters, allowed 474 total yards and the most points in a game since Illinois hung up 55 on a then-Robb Smith-led unit in 2018.
Overall, Minnesota has now lost 17 straight home games against Michigan, with their last win in Minneapolis now 43 years ago in 1977. It was the most points the Wolverines have scored in the series since a 58-0 drubbing in 2011.
Minnesota had a positive start, with a Boye Mafe sack to force a Michigan punt on their opening drive. The U’s special teams stepped up with a blocked punt from Preston Helen and a quick touchdown strike from Tanner Morgan to Ko Kieft and a 7-0 lead.
It was the only time the Gophers — a three-point betting underdog — would lead in the game.
Michigan responded with a quick touchdown strike of their own and provided foreshadowing. They moved the ball routinely and had five offensive touchdown drives, one defensive TD. They didn’t miss their three missed field goals.
Gophers quarterback Tanner Morgan completed 18 of 29passes for 197 yards, with one touchdown and one interception. Morgan endured five sacks, which came in part due to two missing offensive linemen.
Michigan quarterback Joe Milton went 15 for 22 with 225 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions.
The Gophers had some individual success with Rashod Bateman having 101 receiving yards and Mohamed Ibrahim having 140 yards rushing.
After a good start with the blocked punt, the Gophers special teams struggled, allowing a 66-yard kickoff return that led led to a Wolverines touchdown and failing on a fake punt, which led to another Michigan TD.
The Gophers special teams lagged behind the offensive and defense during a historic 11-2 season. On Saturday, the blame stretched to all three units.