MINNEAPOLIS — It seemed all season that Michigan’s run game has struggled. But in Saturday’s 35-13 win at Minnesota, the ground attack got a suitable reinforcement in Thomas Rawls.
Rawls, a sophomore running back, ran for a touchdown and 43 yards on 16 carries, while tailback Fitzgerald Toussaint had a game-best 70 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries.
The Wolverines finished with 155 yards on 41 carries against the Golden Gophers.
Coaches and teammates have described Rawls’ style of play as “running angry,” and he replaced Toussaint in the season opener against Alabama after Toussaint was suspended in the wake of a drunk-driving charge.
But Rawls’ playing time diminished in the next seven games. Rawls didn’t have a carry in last weekend’s loss at Nebraska and entered Saturday’s game at Minnesota with two touchdowns and 174 yards on 25 carries.
“To be honest with you, we planned on doing a little more with him a week ago, but we didn’t, for one reason or another,” Michigan coach Brady Hoke said. “We wanted to get him involved in the I-back stuff and under center. It suits him, and it suits Fitz too.
“I thought he [Rawls] did OK. I didn’t see every play, because I talk to the defense so much, but I know one thing. He’s going to run downhill, and he’s going to run hard.”
BOOTED: Wide receiver and punt returner Jeremy Gallon finished with four catches for 72 yards and a touchdown and two carries for 21 yards, but wore a walking boot on his right foot during the post-game press conference. Gallon was tongue-in-cheek when discussing the injury.
“I guess when you get a headache, you get put in a boot,” said Gallon, who anticipates playing next weekend against Northwestern.
Also, Hoke said quarterback Russell Bellomy dressed but was not available to play. He did not elaborate and only said it was “most likely” an injury.
JONES VS. ROBINSON: Olympic hurdler and bobsled selection Lolo Jones was the guest picker on ESPN’s College GameDay at Louisiana State University, and the 2005 LSU graduate issued an edict of sorts before making a pick for the Michigan-Minnesota game.
“Denard Robinson, you cannot beat me in a race, let alone Usain Bolt,” Jones said on the pregame show. “But I will give you and your team the win today.”
Robinson boasted that he could take on Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt, the world-record holder in the 100 and 200-meter dashes, in a shorter foot race.
"I've watched him run, and I'm pretty sure I can beat him in a 40-yard dash," Robinson said in August. "I'd get a better start, and I could take him.”
MOVING UP: ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. released his latest “Big Board” — pre-NFL draft rankings for college football players — and Michigan left tackle Taylor Lewan is up to No. 13 in Kiper’s top 25, moving up two spots.