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Week 10 - Michigan at Minnesota

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Nov 2, 2012


Week 10 Fearless Predictions - Michigan at Minnesota

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Michigan (5-3) at Minnesota (5-3) Nov. 3, 12:00, BTN

Here’s The Deal: It’s the 99th meeting between the two legendary programs – yes, Minnesota used to be big-time football back in the day – with the Little Brown Jug on the line. It’s been a wee bit of a one-side rivalry, to use the term loosely lately, with Michigan losing once since 1986, but this year might be a little bit different. The Wolverines are a bit shaky after struggling to get by Michigan State and losing to Nebraska in a brutally ugly game, while Minnesota is coming off of one its best performances in the Jerry Kill era with a dominant performance against Purdue. The Gophers aren’t realistically in the race for the Legends, but they can all but end Michigan’s dreams of the Rose Bowl with a win in Minneapolis.

With a strange quarterback situation, a rough running game, and a problem with the scoring punch, Minnesota wasn’t exactly stellar before the Purdue win, but now it seems to be finding a little more confidence and a bit more production. The defense is working, the secondary has been stellar, and slowly, Kill appears to have things on the right track. Meanwhile, Michigan can’t seem to score with just 21 points over the last two games and with Denard Robinson banged up. Even so, by winning out and getting a Husker loss, it’ll be on to the Big Ten championship. First, the Wolverines have to score.

Why Michigan Might Win: Was last week an aberration for the Minnesota offense? Purdue hasn’t exactly been a defensive rock lately, and the Gophers took advantage with a balanced attack that tolled without a problem. However, there wasn’t any ground game against Wisconsin, the passing game fizzled in key moments against Northwestern, and the points were hard to come by with two rushing scores in five weeks and the seven passing touchdowns not enough to get by.

Michigan hasn’t been consistent overall, but the defense has come up with a terrific season after a rough start. Since giving up 66 points in the first two games against Alabama and Air Force, the Wolverines have allowed more than 13 points just once, and that came in last week’s loss to Nebraska. The pass defense is No. 1 in the nation allowing a mere 146 yards per game, while the defensive front, despite the lack of a steady pass rush, has been able to slow down some very, very good ground attacks. On the year, Michigan has allowed just three passing touchdowns since the loss to Alabama and has given up a mere two rushing scores since the first two weeks.

Why Minnesota Might Win: Where did the Michigan offense go? Playing Michigan State has been a problem for just about everyone, but Nebraska’s defense has been hit-or-miss and the Wolverines failed to get much of anything moving, primarily because Denard Robinson got hurt, Russell Bellomy came in and missed his first ten passes, and the game was essentially over. Even with Robinson, who’s expected to give it a go despite his arm injury, the passing game is among the least efficient and effective in the Big Ten. When Robinson isn’t running the ball, the offense isn’t working – Minnesota has the defensive front to keep the Wolverines from rolling.

The Gophers are seventh in the nation in pass defense and eighth in pass efficiency defense – Michigan isn’t going to suddenly start bombing away this week. The linebackers have made a major difference and have been a huge positive, despite giving up 337 yards and five rushing touchdowns to a Wisconsin running game that found itself for one day. Even if Michigan’s ground game works, the passing game won’t balance things out, potentially making this like the Minnesota-Northwestern battle, a 21-13 Wildcat win that the Gophers kept close throughout.

What To Watch Out For: Can Robinson last? He suffered a nerve injury to his elbow against Nebraska, and while he’s supposed to be able to go this week, concerns about his arm have forced the coaching staff to move Devin Gardner from receiver back to quarterback after the struggles of Bellomy last week. It’s not a lock that Gardner would step in and take over, but he’s going to be at the ready if Robinson has any setbacks. At the very least, Robinson’s problems have thrown a bit of a curveball into preparations for an offense that needs him to be terrific.

What Will Happen: Is this Minnesota’s time to take a major step forward and show that the program is about to become a factor? Not quite. The Gopher offense won’t work, but the defense will keep Robinson in check and the game close until the end. It’ll be the third straight ugly game for Michigan, but it’ll be on the right side.

CFN Prediction: Michigan 19 … Minnesota 13
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) Michigan -12.5 O/U: 46.5
Must Watch Rating (5 – The Man With The Iron Fists, 1 – Election coverage until Tuesday morning): 3.5