As I watched snippets of the Minnesota/Penn State game last week, I have to admit that I couldn't help but think of Wisconsin. Great running back, very good tight end, good receivers, shaky quarterback, etc. These are the observations that cause me to wake in a cold sweat. Both Michigan and Minnesota are desperately in need of a win this week to get their respective Big Ten Title hopes back on track.
The Michigan gameplan should be what it should have been against Wisconsin--put points on the board early to make sure that the opposition's star running back is not a factor in the 4th quarter. Chad Henne had a very good game a week ago and the confidence should be good for him this week. The emergence of Mario Manningham as an honest-to-god deep threat also bodes well for the long term success of this Michigan offense. With Manningham stretching the Minnesota pass defense, the underneath routes will be open for Jason Avant and company. I don't know if Steve Breaston will be ready to go or not, but frankly it shouldn't matter much. A combination of a good game from Michael Hart, solid contributions from the tight ends and an accurate Chad Henne will be too much for an overmatch Minnesota defense that was clearly inferior to a questionable Penn State offense last week. Look for Michigan to put up at least 28 points in the first half.
On the other side of the ball, it is critical for Michigan to not surrender the long runs to Laurence Maroney that almost doomed them last season. Fortunately for Michigan fans this is a better defense than the one that took the field a year ago. I think that Maroney will be able to rush for 4-5 yards consistently in the first three quarters, but he will be invisible in the 4th, as Minnesota is forced to play from behind and abandon the run. Bryan Cupito make a valiant effort, but Michigan is just too talented in this one. Make it Michigan 35, Minnesota 17.
Chad Henne 25-35, 280 yards, 2 TDs
Michael Hart 25 carries, 135 yards, 3 TDs
Mario Manningham 6 catches, 85 yards, TD
Jason Avant 10 catches, 110 yards, TD
Laurence Maroney 30 carries, 145 yards, 2 TDs
Bryan Cupito 14-30 170 yards, 2 Ints
Georgia 24, Tennessee 10
Arizona State 42, Oregon 28
Cal 27, UCLA 17
Ohio State 10, Penn State 7
Nebraska 31, Texas Tech 28
Last Week: 4-2 Season: 9-6