Oct 27, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Golden Gophers quarterback Philip Nelson (9) throws during the third quarter against the Purdue Boilermakers at TCF Bank Stadium. The Gophers defeated the Boilermakers 44-28. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-US PRESSWIRE

Michigan Football: Michigan at Minnesota -- GBMWolverine Staff Predictions

Posted at 7:00am — 11/3/2012

Michigan Football: Michigan at Minnesota — GBMWolverine Staff Predictions

Michigan leads the all-time series vs. Minnesota 71-24-3. The Little Brown Jug is on the line. U-M is 37-3 in its last 40 meetings vs. Minnesota, including 20 wins in the last 21 match-ups. U-M has won four consecutive games in the series, including a 58-0 victory last season in Ann Arbor. Minnesota’s last win came in 2005, upsetting the No. 24 Wolverines on Homecoming on Oct. 8, 23-20.

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This is a trap game.

We will learn a lot about the make up of the 2012 team.

Michigan wins a close one.

Michigan 20
Minnesota 17


Minnesota is 5-3 and so is Michigan. That of course does not tell the complete set-up for Saturday’s game at Minnesota.

Minnesota blew out Purdue, big time last week. Some thinking is that Ohio State left residual damage to Purdue in a game that the Boilers flat blew in Columbus: never mind the comeback of the Eon stuff floating in one corner of the world. Another thought is that Purdue does what many teams do when on the road for a second straight game; play worse than the week before. Some attribute Purdue’s troubles to a growing state of “Hope-itis.” But the folks in Minnesota wish to believe the blow out was the result of the great play of freshman Philip Nelson.

Nelson is a true freshman and had his red-shirt pulled two weeks ago. The results the first week were good, and the results the second week were pleasantly positive. Nelson had a great game against Purdue. The pass protection was great; a super gift for a freshman, and Nelson threw three first-half touchdown passes.

The defense got to Caleb TerBush and the Gopher secondary had a very good game. Michael Carter achieved one pick-six and several breakups.

The old turnover bugaboo that earlier this year hammered Minnesota took some time off last week. The result was a near storybook game, one that has the Gopher faithful filled with hope for the future.

Nelson had help from his receiving corps and Purdue left the Gopher receivers pretty much open all day long. TerBush was removed, but too little, too late, as the Gophers rolled.

Michigan is not coming off a high point, but instead suffered a defeat that may be more difficult to overcome mentally than physically. The offense of Michigan, one Denard Robinson, injured a nerve and redshirt freshman, Russell Bellomy, had a night to quickly forget, as should the rest of the offense.

Every week is different this season in the Big Ten, baring one constant, that the unexpected should be expected. One thing that is still in doubt is Denard Robinson’s status and his ability to finish the game. This injury can flare up again in a New York minute.

Both teams are playing for bowl eligibility. Minnesota is playing for the future and hopefully Michigan shows up and plays for a championship.



How much will Denard be allowed to play? How effective will he be? How often will they use him? If the rest of the offense doesn’t produce will they be forced to use Denard more or like what we have seen this past season when it seems nothing else is working they rely on Denard to save the day.

The Michigan defense continues to make strides as the 2012 season moves forward. Michigan ranks first in the nation in pass defense, allowing only 145.2 yards per game through the air. The Wolverines have not allowed 200 passing yards in a single game this season.

Over its last six games, Michigan is allowing 12.0 points per contest, while allowing only five touchdowns over that span (24 quarters). The only problem is the offense isn’t scoring any points to help the defense out.

The Maize and Blue are second in the Big Ten and ninth in the country in total defense, giving up only 290.4 yards per game. Michigan’s third-down defense has been stellar in recent weeks. In Big Ten play, the U-M opponents are 14-of-54 (25.9%) on third-down conversions. After allowing Purdue to convert only 1-of-11 third-down attempts in the Big Ten opener, Illinois was only able to convert 3-of-14 third-down attempts against the Wolverines, and Michigan State converted only 6-of-17 attempts. Last week, U-M allowed Nebraska to convert only 4-of-12 third-down attempts.

I think Denard will be limited and not used as much as fans believe at this time. The “Jug” will return with the team back to Ann Arbor.

Michigan 20
Minnesota 10


No prediction sent in this week.

Oct 20, 2012; Madison, WI, USA; Minnesota Golden Gophers quarterback MarQueis Gray (5) during the game against the Wisconsin Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium. Wisconsin defeated Minnesota 38-13. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE

Mike Fitzpatrick (TheMichiganManPodcast)

I mentioned on the podcast this week that as fans, for the next four weeks our nerves will depend on the right elbow nerve of Denard Robinson. After eight weeks of watching this offense it is clear he “is” the offense. I would like to think we’re going to bust out of our eight quarter touchdown drought this week, and Fitz will finally deliver the effort we’ve been expecting, but as usual this year on gameday, I’m not quite certain what to expect.

Quite frankly, it shouldn’t matter who we have under center this week. We should be able to run the football against this Gopher defense. Everyone else has! If we can’t pound it at will from the get go I’m going to be very nervous. Minnesota is a better team than the one we saw last year when we blanked them 58-0 in Ann Arbor. The offense is much more competitive, especially with true Freshman Phillip Nelson at quarterback. He is an accurate passer, and while not the load, or the runner Marquese Gray is, he is quite nimble when he gets out of the pocket. On the defensive side Minnesota hasn’t given up near the points they did last year, but just about everyone is having career rushing games against this young unit.

So, even if Denard doesn’t play today, we need to come out and be able to run with power, and keep this defense off balance with a smart and safe passing game. I would like to see us go down field a bit more and be less predictable in the passing game. The person I’ll be watching with interest this week, other than Denard, is Fitz Toussaint! I know Brady says his lack of success isn’t all his fault. I get that! I’m just growing weary of his seemingly gliding up to the line and not hitting the holes, or at least planting a foot and driving forward. Maybe it’s time to get Thomas Rawls some more work. Then we might have a better idea if our problems have more to do with lack of push up front, or Fitz’s field vision. In the passing game, whoever is under center, let’s hope we try and stretch the field some against this D. The secondary is the strength of this team, but we still need to challenge them with something other than flares and short curls. We shall see.

I’m not worried about our defense at all. Unless they are on the field all day, they will find a way to slow down or snuff out this offense. I think our defense really is THAT GOOD! I think we’ll bounce back this week and come home 6-3. How it will happen, I have no idea. Let’s just take care of busines and get ready for what will be a tough game at home next week against a well rested Northwestern squad. Go Blue!

Michigan 27
Minnesota 10


No prediction sent in this week.


Michigan 24
Minnesota 3

Oct 20, 2012; Madison, WI, USA; Minnesota Golden Gophers head coach Jerry Kill during the game against the Wisconsin Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium. Wisconsin defeated Minnesota 38-13. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE


I think it is pretty obvious that Michigan goes as Denard goes on offense. The problem is, there is not a lack of talent or desire on the team and there underwhelming execution is a problem- as discussed in the forum. More so, our problem is how this talent is fitting into a new system and how it lacks difference makers. The entire offensive load shouldn’t be on the shoulders of our one and only stand out difference maker. Michigan has adequate talent to beat most Big Ten teams this season, but seems to be slogging through mud.

The defense has held up their end of the bargain (until they get worn down) with out any game breaking talent. It’s time our skilled position players man up and start performing. I don’t care who is under center, Michigan should not be struggling to score touchdowns on offense. Grant it, Bellomy was thrown into the animal den and is clearly not ready. The risk of DR getting hurt was real, and it is now a problem that the coaching staff will backfill. Gardner may play under center, but it weakens an already thin receiving corps.

Minnesota poses a challenge in that, they have some nice individual players on offense and defense, but overall, this game should be a two touchdown win, even in Gopherland. Stranger things have happened, especially if the Maize and Blue just decide to throw their helmets on the field. This is a dangerous, under the radar game that I am nervous about. Still, I think our defense rises again and the offense does just enough.

Michigan keeps the crockery, 24-17, but more importantly, keeps pressure on Nebraska for the divison lead. IMO, if Big Red wins at MSU later on Saturday, and based on the upcoming schedules for both teams, Michigan will most likely be relegated to playing for a warm destination bowl and will relinquish the chance to get to the Big Ten Championship game. That ship sailed last week.

Michigan 24
Minnesota 17

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