FACTS & STATS: Site: Michigan Stadium (109,901) — Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Television: ABC. Home Record: Minnesota 3-0, Michigan 2-1. Away Record:
Minnesota 0-1, Michigan 0-1. Neutral Record: Minnesota 0-0, Michigan 0-0.
Conference Record: Minnesota 0-0, Michigan 0-0. Series Record: Michigan leads,
GAME NOTES: The battle for the Little Brown Jug takes place at Michigan
Stadium on Saturday afternoon when the Wolverines open Big Ten Conference play
against the visiting Minnesota Golden Gophers.
Despite being the oldest FBS trophy game (dating back to 1909), this annual
matchup has been rather one-sided with Michigan claiming six straight and 22
of the last 23 meetings overall.
But the proverbial hot seat is getting hotter for fourth-year Wolverines coach
Brady Hoke, who has seen his win total dwindle each year since taking the
helm. His team is off to a 2-2 start this year following last week’s 26-10
home loss to Utah.
Meanwhile, the Golden Gophers are off to a 3-1 start and are looking to build
on last weekend’s 24-7 decision over San Jose State. However, they also lost
their only road game to date, a 30-7 setback at TCU two weekends ago.
Minnesota’s rushing attack ranks 29th in the nation with an average of 236.3
ypg. David Cobb is the main reason for that, as he is coming off his second
200-yard rushing performance of the young season last Saturday against SJSU
when he carried 34 times for 208 yards and two scores. Going back to the final
six games of 2013, Cobb has averaged 126.4 ypg on the ground. His workload
against the Spartans was largely due to the absence of starting quarterback
Mitch Leidner, who sat out with a sprained knee and turf toe. His replacement,
redshirt freshman Chris Streveler, attempted only seven passes in the game and
With Leidner sidelined and the Gophers offense turned one-dimensional, the
defense picked a good week to force five turnovers. In fact, SJSU made only
one trip inside the red zone, and that possession ended with a fumble. Damien
Wilson led the way with a team-high nine tackles to go along with a forced
fumble and a recovery. The seven points allowed were the fewest for a Gophers
team since posting a 17-3 win at Illinois in 2012. The opposition has failed
to score against Minnesota in nine of 16 quarters played so far this season.
Michigan’s offense won the time of possession battle and outgained Utah,
308-287. However, the unit was ultimately done in by four turnovers as the
Wolverines never once got into the red zone. Stormy conditions certainly
factored in, as Devin Gardner threw for only 148 yards, was sacked three times
and picked off twice. However, Utah’s Travis Wilson played in those same
conditions and completed 14-of-20 passes for 172 yards with a touchdown and no
interceptions. Still, the ground game is the Wolverines’ bread and butter
(211.0 ypg), although they managed just 3.3 yards per carry on 36 rushes as a
Conversely, Michigan’s defense held the Utes to only 82 yards rushing. On top
of that, the Wolverines racked up 11 tackles for loss, the program’s highest
single-game total since recording 11 against Illinois in 2008. With the
offense slow to come around, defense has been the team’s calling card through
four games as Michigan leads the Big Ten and ranks eighth nationally in total
defense (261.0). The unit is ninth-best in the nation against the run (80.3
ypg), having yielded a total of only 168 rushing yards over its last three
games. UM has held three of its four opponents to their lowest scoring output
of the season.
Michigan has won 31 of its last 32 Big Ten openers, which has become something
of a rite of passage in Ann Arbor. Should Leidner remain sidelined, the
Wolverines can expect a heavy dosage of Cobb in this one, which plays right
into the Wolverines’ strength.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Michigan 34, Minnesota 20