The Call: Gophers vs. Michigan

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 4, 2013 - 8:39 PM
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Gophers quarterback Philip Nelson has thrown for two touchdowns and four interceptions so far this season.

THE OPPONENT

Michigan shined against Notre Dame before nearly losing to Akron and Connecticut. Now the Wolverines are coming off a well-timed bye.

Gameday

2:30 p.m. Michigan Stadium • TV: Ch. 5 • Radio: 100.3 FM

Line: Michigan by 19½ • Series: Michigan leads 72-24-3 Last year: Michigan won 35-13

Gophers offense vs. Michigan defense

Michigan’s rushing defense ranks sixth in the nation (79.0 yards per game), one notch ahead of Iowa (79.2). The Gophers are counting on a better performance from their offensive line this week, but it won’t be easy. The Wolverines also have a good pass rush, ranking second in the Big Ten with 2.25 sacks per game. Advantage: Michigan

Michigan offense vs. GOPHERS defense

Coach Jerry Kill said his defensive backs have to stick with Michigan’s receivers when Devin Gardner scrambles, instead of coming in for the tackle. As the Gophers learned last year, Gardner is dangerous because he can elude the rush and make playground-style touchdown passes. Advantage: Michigan

Special teams

Marcus Jones, who has returned a kickoff and a punt for touchdowns this year, sparked the Gophers against Iowa with a 65-yard kickoff return. Michigan gave up a 50-yard kickoff return against Notre Dame. Gophers punter Peter Mortell ranks second in the Big Ten with a 44.0-yard average Advantage: Gophers

Intangibles

It’s homecoming for Michigan, and the Wolverines had two weeks to prepare for the Gophers after nearly stumbling in wins over Akron and Connecticut. Minnesota is coming off a deflating defeat to Iowa and has lost 21 of its past 22 games against Michigan. This one’s for the Little Brown Jug, a trophy the Gophers haven’t claimed since 2005. Advantage: Michigan

Prediction

The Gophers are capable of surprising Michigan by playing significantly better than they did against Iowa. If the Wolverines were coming right off their emotional win over Notre Dame, they might be due for a letdown. But Michigan is ready for this, at home, coming off a bye.

Michigan 35

Gophers 14

 

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  • Gophers quarterback Philip Nelson (9) has thrown for two touchdowns and four interceptions so far this season.

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