The Jug maybe isn't the trophy I'd most appreciate winning, but for my money it is the coolest of our rivalry trophies. That may be because it was the very first rivalry trophy in all of sports. You want it back? You gotta beat us. Unfortunately we've been beaten far too often in this series (not just recently). I wish I could by typing some optimism for today's game but that isn't going to be the case. But the Jug is back up for grabs and anything can happen.
|Minnesota Golden Gophers||Michigan Wolverines|
|Points / Game||22.8||32.0|
|3rd Down %||37.7%||47.5%|
|Key Offensive Player to Watch|| Duane Bennett || Denard Robinson |
|Points Allowed/Game||26.8 ||12.8|
|3rd Down %||46.9%||47.3%|
|Key Defensive Player to Watch||Kim Royston||Jordan Kovacs|
- Can the Gopher contain Denard Robinson? - the guy who is leading the Big Ten in rushing and is maybe the most dynamic player in the conference is expected to run wild today. Guys like Keanon Cooper, who is the fastest player on the Gopher roster should be key to keeping Robinson contained. And you may not know this but Kim Royston is leading the Big Ten in tackles. That means our front seven aren't making enough plays but Kim should be a key to containing Robinson as well.
- Can the Gophers generate enough offense to keep the score close? - This Michigan defense is better than what we saw under Rich Rod, but I believe Hoke is doing it with a little smoke and mirrors. Meaning, they still are not a great defensive team. They've held three teams down but Notre Dame did put up 31 points and 513 yards. This defense is vulnerable, but are we good enough to take advantage?
- How much do I hate Bucky the Badger? - I'm sitting here watching game day, trying to think of a good third question, and Bucky is on the screen. I hate Bucky don't you?
Well, today could be ugly and the reason many of us believe it will be ugly is because of Robinson. If there is some way that we can keep him from making big plays with this legs then this game might not get ugly. We need to keep him from running off huge plays and we need to keep him from manufacturing a lot of third down conversions. Make him beat us with his arm. He isn't a terrible passer but running is clearly his biggest strength.
Offensively it will be interesting to see what we do. Are we going to try and run the ball effectively? Our rushing attack has been getting better throughout the season and I was actually really impressed with Bennett. And really the biggest question with our offense is who will be starting at QB. Maybe Gray is injured, maybe it is an excuse to start the true freshman, or maybe he gets a chance to match Robinson yard for yard.
At the beginning of the year I was more optimistic about this game. But Michigan has been a little better than advertised and we have been worse than I was anticipating. So I'm not holding out hope for a win. What I want to see is some reason to believe that we are getting better. I want to see some identity on offense and I want to see some competitiveness. I want to see a good game.