Who: Michigan Wolverines (5-2; 2-1) @ Minnesota Golden Gophers (4-3; 1-2)
Where: TCF Bank Stadium — Minneapolis, Minnesota
Kickoff: Saturday, October 31st at 7:00 PM ET
Latest Line: Michigan by 13
Matchup: After the bye week, Michigan returns to the field to face off against Minnesota in a game that will be high in emotions for both sides. For the Wolverines, it’s their first game since the heartbreaking defeat to in-state rival, Michigan State University. For Minnesota, it’s the program’s first game under interim head coach Tracy Claeys, who took over after Jerry Kill retired from coaching earlier this week.
While emotions will be high, Michigan still stands as the double-digit favorite. While a night game in opposing territory is never easy, the Wolverines have all the weapons to get their sixth win and become bowl eligible on Halloween night. QB Jake Rudock isn’t going to pick apart any defense, but he’ll have an opportunity to put together a strong performance against a Minnesota defense that on paper looks strong, but hasn’t played well against any legitimate opponents this season.
In the Golden Gophers most recent loss to the University of Nebraska, Minnesota allowed 45 points to the Cornhuskers, including 261 yards and 3 TDs through the air. Rudock does have the ability to make plays, even without the threat of a long ball. If he gets going, it’ll open up the run game for De’Veon Smith, and the Golden Gophers could be in trouble.
For Minnesota to win, the key is going to be pulling off at least one big play. Barring a complete, unexpected collapse, the Golden Gophers won’t be able to break down the Wolverines’ defense. In Michigan State’s win over Michigan, the two big plays were a 74-yard TD pass by their FB and the recovered muffed snap on the punt at the end of the game. A pick-six or a kickoff return for Minnesota could be enough to get the stadium rocking and give the Golden Gophers the momentum they need to make this a game and keep Michigan in their sights.
Prediction: Minnesota won the Little Brown Jug last year and there’s certainly a chance we see a rejuvenated Golden Gophers team after the retirement of Kill, but at the end of the day, Michigan’s the better team and should win this game. Expect another dominant game for the defense, and the Little Brown Jug to return to Ann Arbor.
Michigan 29, Minnesota 12