The #15 Michigan Wolverines (5-2, 2-1 B1G) travel to the Twin Cities to take on the Minnesota Golden Gophers (4-3, 1-2) in the annual game for the Little Brown Jug.
The Gophers came into Ann Arbor last season and won by a score of 30-14. Michigan wants the Jug back, and here's what they'll have to do to secure the victory:
Fight the Emotions
This will be an emotional game for both teams on Saturday night. For Michigan, they will be looking to bounce back from a heartbreaking loss a few weeks ago and go get a win on the road. Minnesota will be playing just a few short days after Jerry Kill, its head coach, retired due to health problems. It remains to be seen how they respond, but it would not be a shock to see them play inspired early on.
Michigan has struggled in road games in recent years, so we will see how they respond to all of the storylines heading into this game. However, they have had two weeks to regroup and a coaching staff that should be able to keep them focused, so they absolutely have the upper hand here.
Don't Let Mitch Leidner Get Comfortable
Minnesota's quarterback Mitch Leidner is not great by any means, but he is capable of making plays. Michigan has been so good at wreaking havoc in opposing backfields and making quarterbacks uncomfortable. Forcing turnovers is always key, but even moreso on the road in a game like this.
Leidner has thrown four interceptions in his last three games. Michigan's secondary will have opportunities to make plays.
Run Game Renaissance
Michigan's run game has improved week-in and week-out this season, but took a bit of a step back against Michigan State. De'Veon Smith and Drake Johnson should be back and healthy following the bye and getting them back involved offensively is extremely important.
The Gopher's feature the 52nd-ranked run defense in college football at around 150 yards per game. Look for the Wolverines to surpass that and get a few scores on the ground on Saturday evening.
Revenge of the Special Teams
Special team's has been Michigan's bread and butter this year except for one fluky play. Blake O'Neill has moved on, and expect the Wolverines to do the same and keep winning the field position battle in the kicking game.
Jabrill Peppers has the ability to take a kick to the house whenever he touches the football, so it would not be a surprise to see him end up with a return score in this game. It's going to happen sooner rather than later.
Kenny Allen is still perfect from inside 40-yards on field goals, so Michigan has a steady, reliable option there.
What do you think Michigan has to do to win tonight's game? Sound off in the comments below!