The No. 24 Michigan Wolverines (6-2, 3-2) got back on track with a big win over the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. This week, they’ll hit the road again to take on the Minnesota Golden Gophers in the Battle for the Little Brown Jug.
The Wolverines and the Golden Gophers have played each other almost every year since 1892 making it one of the oldest rivalries in college football. The Little Brown Jug first came about in the 1903 game as a means of carrying water for players. It would soon become one of the most recognized trophies in college football.
The two teams last played each other on Halloween night in 2015. With the Wolverines clinging to a 29-26 lead, the Gophers made it all the way to Michigan’s 1-yard line late in the fourth quarter. However, Minnesota would end up running the clock and, after deciding to go for a touchdown instead of a game-tying field goal, were stuffed on a QB-sneak to end the game. The Wolverines have won seven of their last eight meetings with the Gophers.
The Golden Gophers (4-4, 1-4) are looking to qualify for a bowl game for the sixth straight season, extending what’s already the longest streak in program history.
The offense has recently been taken over by sophomore quarterback Demry Croft. In his two games as the starter, he’s thrown for 186 yards and a touchdown.
Rodney Smith spearheads the running attack for Minnesota. The junior leads the team with 138 carries for 545 yards. Meanwhile, junior Shannon Brooks leads the team with five rushing touchdowns, but his status for the contest is uncertain after suffering a shoulder injury in the Gophers’ last game at Iowa.
The receiving unit is largely carried by Tyler Johnson. The sophomore leads the team with 27 receptions for 499 yards and seven touchdowns. No other receiver on the team currently has 100 yards.
On defense, Minnesota features the aggressiveness of linebacker Carter Coughlin whose 4.5 sacks are fifth best in the Big Ten.
Players to Watch
After O’Korn couldn’t seem to get a passing game going, Brandon Peters was given the nod to take some snaps under center. The redshirt freshman seemed to take advantage his opportunity throwing for 124 yards and a touchdown in three quarters of play.
Despite the prowess he showed, it’s important to see more of what he has to offer as a starter. He’ll need to prove that he can not only be good, but consistent as well.
Going into the season, many saw Kareem Walker as a player who could complement a possible four-headed monster of running backs for the Wolverines. However, we didn’t see much out of the redshirt freshman for the first few games of the year.
On Saturday, however, that seemed to change.
Against the Scarlet Knights, Walker ran for a career high six carries for 34 yards and a touchdown before leaving with an ankle injury. Should he recover in time for the game against Minnesota, it’ll be interesting if he can showcase more of the same stuff.
Solomon was recruited by Michigan as the fifth best defensive tackle in the country a year ago after initially dropping his commitment to the maize and blue.
On Saturday, the defensive lineman got his first start of the season where he made three total tackles and 0.5 tackles for loss.
Now there isn’t any pressure to rush Solomon into action every time out as the defense seems to be doing just fine these days, but if he can improve on those stats, it would be great for not only depth, but also a good sign for future seasons.
The game can be seen this Saturday, Nov. 4 at 7:30 p.m.