By Michael J. Wilson II (M go Blue)

Michigan Run Offense vs. Minnesota Run Defense
Advantage: Michigan
Michigan enters the game with the nations 23rd rated rushing attack, good for 2nd best in the Big Ten. Michigan Sr. running back Chris Perry is 5th in the nation in rushing, and tops the Big Ten. Minnesota's run defense is ranked 51st in the nation. Minnesota gave up 222 yards rushing to Ohio and 250 yards to Penn State, respectively. If Minnesota displays this type of run support vs. a much better running team like Michigan, Michigan could control the entire game, handily beating Minnesota at home. However, Michigan has not chosen to run the ball much in their last three games, averaging only 29 rushing attempts a game for a 1-2 record, unlike the 50 rushing attempts a game through their first three games, where they went 3-0. They will need to run the ball much more against Minnesota.

Michigan Pass Offense vs. Minnesota Pass Defense
Advantage: Even

Michigan's pass offense is rated 32nd in the nation and leads the entire Big Ten. John Navarre is the Big Ten leader in total offense and touchdown passes. His 11 touchdown passes is also good for 9th in the nation. Michigan may have the most talented receiving unit not only in the big ten, but in the entire nation. Minnesota counters with the nation's 10th-best passing defense, ranking 2nd in the Big Ten to only Michigan's. Although Michigan has all the talent in the world with their passing offense, and non-Minnesota fans would be hard pressed to come up with the name of one individual in Minnesota's secondary, Minnesota statistically holds their own. If not for the drops by Michigan receivers (especially on crucial 3rd down plays), Michigan would hold a slight advantage.

Minnesota Run Offense vs. Michigan Run Defense
Advantage: Minnesota

Minnesota enters the game with the nation's 3rd leading rushing attack (best in the Big Ten) amassing 277 yards per game. Michigan counters with the nation's 30th rushing defense. Minnesota has four, count them - four, running backs that average over 50 a game. The leading rusher in this group is Marion Barber III, who also leads the entire nation in scoring with 13 rushing TDs, good for 78 points. To add more firepower to the running game, Minnesota has a decent scrambling quarterback in Asad Abdul-Khalig. The good thing for Michigan fans is that Michigan counters with a defense that held a quality running team like Notre Dame to just 49 yards rushing. The bad thing for Michigan fans is they also counter with the same run-defense that gave up 218 yards on the ground to an inferior Central Michigan team.

Minnesota Pass Offense vs. Michigan Pass Defense
Advantage: Even

Minnesota's pass offense is ranked a porous 76th. However, it is a very deceiving statistic - why pass when your running game is this good? When this team does pass, it is the 4th most efficient in the entire nation. Minnesota senior quarterback Asad Abdul-Khalig has an efficiency rating of 189.57, good for first in the entire nation. The Wolverines will counter this outstanding efficiency with the nation's 5th rated pass defense. Michigan has an outstanding athletic secondary led my Marlin Jackson at free safety. The secondary will have its hands full covering wide receiver Jared Ellerson, who is averaging over 85 yards a game, good for 2nd in the Big Ten. Additionally, Michigan will need to be aware of tight end Ben Utecht on crucial 3rd down plays, as he may be the best tight end Michigan will see all year. Michigan has had difficulties getting to the opposing team's quarterback, unlike in recent years.

Special Teams
Advantage: Minnesota

Michigan has finally found their full-time field goal kicker in true freshmen Garret Rivas. He has made 5-of-6 FGAs, and should remain a consistent kicker for the rest of his career. Michigan's freshmen punt return phenom Steve Breaston is 4th in the nation and first in the Big Ten, averaging 17 yards a return. The special team's positives stop there for these Wolverines, though. The Wolverines display poor special teams coverage and often get punts blocked (three so far by three different punters). The punt unit alone lost the Iowa game by having multiple punts blocked in a useless formation, and by poor kickoff and punt coverage teams that gave up great field position all day. Minnesota's field goal unit is equally as solid as Michigan's, with Lloyd hitting 6-of-7 FGAs. However, Minnesota's coverage teams has performed significantly better than Michigan's, having not given up a TD on special teams yet, and usually forcing their opponents to start with terrible field position.

Michigan is 65-23-3 for a 73% all-time winning percentage against Minnesota, with the average score being Michigan 23, Minnesota 11. Michigan has also won 14 straight, and 31 of the last 33. Lloyd Carr and most of the coaches under him will be on the 'hot seat' if Michigan takes another loss and begins the season at 4-3, especially with the talent level this Michigan team has. This team was expected to challenge for not only a Big Ten title, but the National Championship as well. It is hard to imagine that mighty Michigan can take another loss to yet another less talented team.

Minnesota also has not been tested. While Michigan has played Notre Dame, at Oregon and at Iowa, Minnesota has been playing a few "high school" teams. With the exception of an extremely down Penn State team, Minnesota has had the opportunity to build up some nice rankings and statistics based on cupcke eating. Since Michigan has the historical factor, extreme pressure to win, and battle tested players on its side, what does Minnesota have? For one, Minnesota takes better care of the ball. Minnesota is 33rd with a +.67 turnover ratio, whereas Michigan is ranked 89th with a -.67 turnover ratio. Home-field advantage will also play a large role in supporting Minnesota. However, the pressure for Michigan to win is too great of a motivator for even turnovers and having road game to displace, and that says it all.
Slight Advantage: Michigan.

Prediction: Michigan 37 - Minnesota 27