Michigan looks to bounce back vs. new-look Minnesota
Who: No. 15 Michigan vs. Minnesota
When: Saturday, 7 p.m. ET
Where: TCF Bank Stadium, Minnesota
Spread: Michigan -13.5
Matchup to watch: Jourdan Lewis vs. K.J. Maye
Minnesota’s best offensive weapon will have the unfortunate pleasure of dealing with arguably the best lockdown corner in the country. Lewis has been about as good as can be in coverage this year, which is a trend he’ll look to continue. The Gophers like to move Maye around. He could get looks on end-arounds, screens, posts and drags. Don’t be surprised if you see some unconventional ways to get Maye involved. Lewis could shadow Maye all night and get over-the-top help from Jabrill Peppers. That’s all the more reason to try to run the ball against the Wolverines.
Thing I’m excited to see: Peppers’ increased offensive role
We saw how much Peppers’ presence on offense threw off Michigan State. Mark Dantonio called two timeouts when he stepped on to the field for the first time. Now picture what interim coach Tracy Claeys has to worry about after taking over the program in the middle of the week. Jim Harbaugh suggested earlier in the week that Peppers is going to get more offensive touches. He said that so that teams will have to spend time practicing something that might only occur five times in a game. Just the thought of Peppers stretching the field horizontally would be big for a Michigan offense that primarily operates between the hashes.
Number to remember: 7
Since entering the lineup a month ago, Shannon Brooks has rushed for seven yards per carry. Still, he’s only averaged 11 carries per game. That needs to change. I get that Minnesota wants to keep Rodney Smith involved. They can do that while still giving Brooks 15 touches. For an offense that lacks playmakers, Brooks has the ability to break long runs. He has more big-play ability than Smith. The chances of the Gophers stringing long touchdown drives against the second-ranked defense in the country are not great. Minnesota probably needs to hit a home run or two to keep pace with the Wolverines. Right now, Brooks is their best chance to do that.
Prediction: Michigan 28, Minnesota 7
It’s been an event-filled week in Minneapolis. It’s hard enough to prepare for a top-15 opponent without a mid-week coaching change. I don’t think Minnesota comes out firing. Michigan, on the other hand, still has the bad taste of the Michigan State loss in its mouth. The Wolverine defense won’t need much motivation for Saturday night. Even without Joe Bolden for the first half, I think Michigan sets the tone like it did in its first two B1G games. On Halloween night, Harbaugh’s group reminds the B1G that its still plenty capable of looking scary good. I apologize for that.