October 08, 2014

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) The Little Brown Jug has been on a victory parade of sorts after Minnesota took it from Michigan for just the second time in the last 24 games of one of the longest running rivalries in college football.

It's hard to blame the Golden Gophers, or their giddy fans and school officials, for reveling in the aftermath of a 30-14 victory at the Big House on Sept. 27.

The old saying ''act like you've been there before'' doesn't really apply in this case. The trophy spent the bye week crisscrossing the state, making public appearances everywhere to give Gopher fans a rare up-close glimpse at a relic that almost never spends much time here.

''I said that was the state's jug so I think it's got appointments,'' coach Jerry Kill said Tuesday. ''I know I have been told earlier in the week I couldn't get an appointment, so I think the president overrules the head football coach.''

As the Gophers (4-1, 1-0 Big Ten) returned to work this week to prepare for Northwestern (3-2, 2-0), one of the biggest points of emphasis is to forget that the jug was ever won in the first place. In a wide-open conference, the Gophers have bigger goals than winning a trophy game against an opponent that is in shambles.

If they can build on the momentum and take advantage of a soft spot coming up in the schedule, the long-struggling program could be right in the thick of the Big Ten race come November.

''It's over,'' tight end Maxx Williams said of the Michigan win. ''We had our fun. We celebrated. We beat Michigan. Now, let's move on.''

The schedule broke just right for this young and rebuilding team. Even though some players on the team said they would have liked to keep playing after such a confidence-inducing victory over the Wolverines, most coaches were relieved to get last weekend off.

They spent some of the time recruiting, trying to capitalize on a big win to grab the attention of possible future Gophers far and wide.

''I think certainly we're gaining credibility that we're moving in the right direction and I think it opens doors and people are talking about it,'' Kill said.

They also got a chance to rest some of their banged-up players, including workhorse running back David Cobb and quarterback Mitch Leidner, who has dealt with a painful knee injury for the last month.

Finally, the break gave the Gophers players a few extra days to really enjoy a victory over one of the country's most recognizable programs, a win that came on the road, no less. The week off allowed them to soak it in, heal their wounds and get back to work in preparation for the Wildcats, who have beaten Penn State and Wisconsin in consecutive weeks to rebound from an 0-2 start.

''That was good timing for the bye week,'' center Tommy Olson said. ''We got to celebrate that a little last week. But now we've put that behind us and we're all on to Northwestern.''

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Follow Jon Krawczynski on Twitter: http://twitter.com/APKrawczynski

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