In the Michigan Wolverines’ third game of the conference season, they head to Minnesota to battle the Golden Gophers for the Little Brown Jug. It will be the first meeting between the two teams since 2020, when Michigan won, 49-24.
Today, we continue our series previewing each of the teams Michigan will face in 2023.
Week 6 - Minnesota Golden Gophers
- 2022 Record: 9-4 overall, 5-4 in Big Ten
- Head Coach: PJ Fleck, seventh season
- Key Losses: QB Tanner Morgan
- Key Additions: RB Sean Tyler
Tanner Morgan is finally out of eligibility, and that leaves that quarterback job up for grabs, but Golden Gopher fans may be excited about who will be under center this year.
Sophomore Athan Kaliakmanis is the presumed starter and he has the tools needed to be a successful quarterback. He is a 6-foot-4, 210-pounder who has some mobility and could present some problems for opposing defenses this year. He did play some last season, throwing for 946 yards, three touchdowns and four interceptions. He does need to improve his accuracy if he wants to take the Golden Gopher to the top of the division.
Joining him in the backfield could be Sean Tyler — who comes to Minnesota from Western Michigan — and he could have an immediate impact. Tyler ran for more than 2,000 yards and 16 touchdowns over the last two seasons.
The Golden Gophers finished fourth offensively in the Big Ten last year by averaging 28.2 points per game. They only trailed Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State. Despite those numbers, they were held to 17 or less points in each of their four losses, and the lack of offense in big games prevented them from claiming the Big Ten West.
The defense did play well last year and gave up just 13.8 points per game, which was 2.3 points better than the Wolverines last year. The Golden Gophers do return a handful of top defensive players this year, led by linebacker Cody Lindenburg. He is the leading returning tackler from the 2022 team and will be the main cog in the Gophers’ defense this year.
Minnesota looks to return a good nucleus for the 2023 season, but with a new quarterback under center, can the Gophers finally get over the hump and win the Big Ten West and make it to their first Big Ten Championship?
They open the season with a game against Nebraska, and they also play North Carolina in the non-conference, but it is possible the Golden Gophers are 5-0 and ranked in the top-20 heading into this matchup.