By the Numbers: Game 6 @ Minnesota


Michigan finally delivered a dominant performance in all phases.  This one came on the road in Lincoln as the Wolverines pounded Nebraska 45-7

NEXT UP: @ Minnesota: SP+ 46th, 4.0

PREGAME SP+: Michigan by 18.5, Michigan Win Probability 86%

Michigan stayed #1 overall in the SP+ rankings, thanks to the offense jumping back up into the top ten unit rankings.  The Golden Gophers are 46th overall, led by their 28th ranked defense.

Michigan Offense (9th) vs. Minnesota Defense (28th) 

The Wolverines may have settled on a 5-man offensive line unit for the time being.  Ladarius Henderson got his first start at left tackle last week, and Karsen Barnhart shifted over to right tackle.  The run game execution looked a little cleaner to me.  Now we’ll be looking to see Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards make a man miss and create explosive runs. 

JJ McCarthy is back to his razor sharp form.  McCarthy continues to carve up zone coverages through the middle of the field.  He also presents a major headache when he moves out of the pocket.  It’s nearly impossible to stay tight in coverage on Michigan’s receivers for the extra three or four seconds when JJ is on the move.  I expect to see the Wolverines exploit the middle of Minnesota’s defense through the air, but maybe we will see more targets toward the tight ends today.  

Michigan Defense (2nd) vs. Minnesota Offense (77th)

Week six presents another lopsided mismatch for the Michigan defense.  Minnesota has an OK running attack when they are at full strength, but they have been missing their best running back recently.  Regardless of who is carrying the ball, defensive tackles Kris Jenkins and Mason Graham have been almost impossible to block.  We expect Graham to return for this game with a club on his hand.  I will be interested to see if he sheds blocks at the same rate without use of one hand.  

The Wolverines’ pass defense presents the best opportunity for growth and improvement in Minneapolis.  We still haven’t seen the outside corners challenge and press the opposing wide receivers at the line of scrimmage.  Also, some of the zone coverages in the middle have yielded big windows for quarterbacks to hit slants, and those receivers have been able to run after the catch.  I will be looking for more aggressive coverage technique from the corners, expecting the ball to come out quickly.  The added aggression could yield multiple turnovers from Minnesota quarterback Athan Kaliakmanis.  

PREDICTION: The first half of the regular season will come to close at the completion of tonight’s game.  There was remarkable similarity between the first three opponents, and now the 4th-6th opponents are equally comparable.  I think we’ll see a performance very similar to those against Rutgers and Nebraska. 

The one concerning question is whether the prime time (7:30 PM EST) time slot creates issues for Michigan as it did in Week 3 versus Bowling Green.  If the Wolverines come out and can generate another hot start on the road like last week, we’ll see matching results.  But, if there is a lack of energy, or any sloppiness that leads to early turnovers, this Minnesota team and crowd will be ready throw everything they have, including the kitchen sink, toward an upset bid.
Michigan 33 Minnesota 6 (PRESEASON Michigan 31 Minnesota 14)


  • SP+ Overall: 1st (same), 25.0
    • SP+ Offense: 9th (↑4), 37.4
    • SP+ Defense: 2nd (↓1), 12.8
    • SP+ Special Teams: 8th (↑8), 0.4
  • AP Poll: 2nd (same), 1436
  • Coaches’ Poll: 2nd (same), 1503
  • CFP Rank: N/A

About Clint Derringer

@clint_derringer on Twitter U-M B.A. Sport Management & Communications ‘05 U-M M.S. Program & Project Management ‘18