Michigan Football Game Preview: at Minnesota
Michigan Football (5-3, 3-1) will head to Minnesota (5-3, 1-3) looking to right the ship after losing on the road last week. Kick off is scheduled for 12:01 (EST) and the game will be televised on the Big Ten Network.
The Gophers walloped Purdue at home last week 44-28. In that game true freshman Philip Nelson made his first career start and passed for 246 yards and 3 TDs. Minnesota running back Donnell Kirkwood rushed for a career high 134 yards against the Boilers. The Gophers leading receiver AJ Barker is banged up and might not play. ”He won’t practice today,” Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill said on Tuesday. ” It’s back where the Achilles is. Of course, he didn’t tear it or he wouldn’t be walking. He turned his ankle and it’s kind of in a tender place.”
Michigan was in the Legends Division drivers seat when they trekked to Nebraska last week. Things were looking good for the Wolverines in the land of corn until Denard Robinson aggravated a nerve injury in his right arm and left the game, never to return. The Huskers finished off Michigan and assumed control of the Legends Division. ”The thing is we are concentrated on Minnesota this week,” Craig Roh said on Monday. “We are concentrated on winning this game, and we can’t really focus on the standings and where everyone else is. The only thing we can focus on is ourselves right now.”
Denard Robinson is expected to play this week. The nerve injury remains a concern though. He tweaked it against Illinois earlier this year and had to come out of the game. He did return in that game. Michigan’s best chance to win is with Robinson under center. They are considering having him wear some type of protective sleeve to help prevent further issues with the nerve. Brady Hoke said on Monday that Devin Gardner would get some snaps at QB in practice this week.
The Gophers rank 2nd in the Big Ten and 7th nationally in passing defense. Against the run they are not nearly as formidable, checking in at 10th in the conference and 84th nationally. Look for Michigan to try and pound the ball on the ground. They will certainly try to get Fitz Toussaint loose as he has been bottled up all year with just 321 yards and 4 TDs. As usual, Robinson will also be featured in the run game and that is cause for concern for Jerry Kill. “There’s nobody like him,” Kill explained. ”You know what I mean? He’s worth going to see. If you haven’t seen him play, he’s worth going to the stadium to see. He’s electrifying. There are not many people that say they’ll challenge Bolt in the 40, you know. He’s that explosive of a kid. He’ll just make you look bad.”
Michigan’s defense is tied with Alabama as the best pass defense in the country. The Wolverines check in at #9 in total defense and 14th in scoring defense. However, there continues to be room for improvement with the young defenders. ”We’ve got some things we’ve got to get corrected and still work towards becoming a really good defense,” Greg Mattison said on Tuesday. ”I’ve said this forever , great defenses sound like a board room of a great company out there. ‘Check right, watch out for this, make sure you’re wide enough’ … that’s when you really feel a great defense.”
Despite the loss at Nebraska, the Wolverines remain in good shape in the Legends Division. It’s imperative that they take care of business during the final four weeks of the regular season. After playing Minnesota, Michigan returns home for games against Northwestern and Iowa before heading to Columbus to tangle with the Buckeyes. “There is a lot of Big Ten football yet to be played,” William Campbell said on Monday. “We need to win out, and that is what we are looking forward to doing.”
Prediction: So far this year I am 6-2 predicting the outcome of Michigan Football games. I think Michigan will unleash their ground game on the Gophers and ride that to a victory. I expect the defense will have a dominant afternoon and the Little Brown Jug will remain under the control of the Wolverines. Michigan wins 41-10.