Emotions will be running high on both sidelines Saturday night as Michigan will be ready to square off against Minnesota in a Halloween showdown for the Little Brown Jug.
For U-M, the chance to put away the Michigan State loss and bounce back in a big way is there. For the Golden Gophers, they would like to win one for Jerry Kill.
With emotions running high, The Michigan Insider previews the upcoming game.
Last Meeting: Minnesota defeats Michigan 30-14 on September 27, 2014.
What a win means for Michigan: Michigan needs this win more than they're leading on right now. It's a chance to get the Jug back and it also proves to the doubters that fading in the second half of the season is something that's going to be left in the past. Winning this game, especially if its by a large margin, will prove that U-M has a short memory and hasn't let Michigan State beat them twice. It'll be huge for confidence and, let's be honest, they want that Jug back.
What a win means for Minnesota: They won it for coach. Emotions have been running high this half of the week due to the retirement announcement of Jerry Kill due to health issues.They will want to win this game for him, including the rest of the season, so emotions will be high. Whether emotion alone will win this game remains to be seen, but a down-in-the-dumps Minnesota program could use a win over the Wolverines to secure the Jug in back-to-back seasons.
Player to watch: This game is interesting from the quarterback standpoint. Let's be honest, neither Jake Rudock nor Mitch Leidner is Connor Cook. That will help U-M in a sense because the passing game product is low on both sides of the ball. Regardless, seeing how the U-M defense does against Leidner will be important. Especially from a "bouncing back" standpoint. In 2015, Leidner has thrown seven touchdowns, six interceptions as well as contributing over 1300 yards through the air. Not exactly the most efficient passing offense in the nation, but he's someone who has the ability to run if need be (although the stat sheet doesn't really show it). If the Wolverines can shut down Leidner, its chances of winning - as if it wasn't high already - goes up to an astronomical percentage.
What they're saying: Minnesota defensive coordinator and interim head coach, Tracy Claeys:
On whether Michigan is a good team: "I'll tell you what, they are. They remind me a little bit of how we were last year in some games. Since the first game they've taken care of the ball. They move the chains. They're playing a lot more physical. I think they're back to the fact of, hey, we're a two-back downhill team. They have hardly any negative yardage plays. The fullback carries the ball more than any major college football team the last 20 years, and they're good at it. They've gotten back to getting downhill, doubling you on the defensive line, not losing yards and keep getting in a manageable third down. That's what they've done. They have kept the ball away from people and scored enough to win. Some people think nowadays if you win 21-17, it's embarrassing because you didn't score 40 points. That's not them. They'll gladly walk off the field with a 17-10 win. So it's a completely different mindset, but they're playing well together. Their defense is -- I think defensively they're only averaging like 60 snaps a game, which is unheard of today, but that's because of how well they're doing on offense, and their special teams have put them in some very good situations. So they're playing really well as a team."
What Minnesota can take from last year and utilize in this years match up: "Last year, like you said, they were a lot more one back and didn't do all the doubling. And you know, really just a completely different mentality. So you know, part of doing a great job of coaching is recognizing what you have and what they do best. I think after the Utah game that each game they've decided and done a little bit different, but committed a little bit more to the run and some things they're doing. They're what you would think a Michigan football team's built on. Now they're downhill, playing good defense. Running the ball. Takes occasional shots down the field. But for the most part, it's, hey, let's not lose any yards, let's move the chains and take advantage and score when we can."
On Michigan's personnel being the same: " I think they got behind the eight ball. There's not a lot of freshmen playing. Most of them were kids that were there. Like I say, it's more the offensive philosophy has just went back to, you know, hey, we're going to run the football. And like I say, they make you respect the fullback, no team in the last 20 years have you had to do that. Fullback is always a blocker, decoy, but they've got some awfully big fullback running game."