We're fast approaching the biggest Gopher football game in some 40 years, so it's probably a good…
A chance to prove
Minnesota has survived two Big Ten road games against Penn State and Northwestern, but the Wolverines bring a much more formidable offense to the table than either of those teams.
In previous years, there was an undercurrent of insecurity whenever the Gophers had a matchup with Michigan or Ohio State. That doesn't seem to be the case this time. The Gophers have momentum, confidence and are coming off a sensational game against Northwestern in which they fell behind early and ended up scoring a huge win.
Michigan may make the mistake of merely trying to stop the Minnesota ground game. Asad Abdul-Khaliq has been a solid Big Ten quarterback for three years and he was super last week in completing 12-of-17 passes for 331 yards with four TD passes.
Michigan's pass defense is clearly much better than Northwestern's, but if the Wolverines are selling out to stop Marion Barber & Co., that passing game could do a ton of damage.
SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: The running game is the team's signature, with Marion Barber (two 31-yard TD runs vs. Northwestern) leading the way. When he has enough time, QB Asad Abdul-Khaliq can throw a beautiful deep pass. He hit two TD passes of 80-plus yards to WR Jared Ellerson against Northwestern, but the same questions dog him as they do the whole team -- can the Gophers get it done against top-shelf Big Ten competition?
SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: The Minnesota defense has not been tested the way it will be by Michigan. John Navarre has torched nearly every defense he has gone up against and is coming off a 389-yard effort in the loss to Iowa. However, the Minnesota defense has come up big in key moments. Defensive back Justin Fraley will need to use his considerable athleticism against Michigan's sensational receivers.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "He's having success because he's worked hard. He's the epitome of a team guy. We need more guys with his attitude." -- Minnesota defensive coordinator Greg Hudson on defensive back Justin Fraley.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
THIS WEEK'S GAME: Michigan at Minnesota, Oct. 10 -- Will Minnesota fade as it has in previous seasons when it hits the tougher part of the Big Ten schedule? The Gophers need to start turning around their reputation as a team that feasts on lightweights and gets knocked out by the big boys.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: QB Asad Abdul-Khaliq -- He is coming off the best game of his career. Abdul-Khaliq threw four TD passes against Northwestern and did not have an interception. If the offensive line can give him a little time, he could cause problems for the Michigan defense.
WR Jared Ellerson -- He is a big-play weapon. He caught a 96-yard TD pass in the second quarter and then torched the Wildcats with an 82-yard scoring play shortly after halftime.
INJURY IMPACT: Offensive lineman Mike Nicholson (flu) is questionable for Friday's game against Michigan.
GopherDigest.com Recommended Stories
Week 8: Super Sleepers
Every week, Fantasy Football Expert Jeb Gorham digs in his list of rankings to find the best sleepers for deeper formats. Consider giving these players a chance, but be aware of the risk! Tampa Bay…Read More
Watch: Sailfish Goes Psycho!
Check out this classic video of Dan Larson battling an acrobatic sailfish on a trip to the world-famous Tropic Star Lodge in Panama.Read More
BOMBS AWAY: ISIS BEFORE AND AFTER AIRSTRIKE
Photographer Bulent Kilic captured these amazing images of ISIS members who were on the very wrong end of an allied bombing in Turkey.Read More
TBT: Pumpkin Carving With A Handgun
While many hunters are focused on pursuing big game in late October, it’s also time to make sure you’re ready for Halloween, and specifically trick-or-treaters. In this throwback Thursday video,…Read More
Sullivan weighs seriousness of concussions
John Sullivan has suffered five concussions in his seven-year career, but he doesn’t believe his future is “in doubt.” He weighs the severity of the concussions against the number of them.Read More