Michigan looks to start Big Ten season with win over Minn.
Michigan: 2-2 in preconference season
ANN ARBOR, Mich. – The dark storm clouds that generated a downpour, lightning and weather last week in Michigan's 26-10 rain-soaked home defeat to Utah has become symbolic of head coach Brady Hoke's time in Ann Arbor. Hoke had a promising 11-2 debut season in 2011 but has lost eight of his last 12 at home, therefore the Wolverines are looking to start anew in the Big Ten opener against visiting Minnesota on Saturday. Michigan has outscored patsies Appalachian State and Miami (Ohio) by 62 points but was blanked 31-0 at Notre Dame and does not look like a team that can compete for a Big Ten title at this point.
The Gophers will rely on a power running game led by David Cobb against a stout Wolverines front seven in the 101st edition of the Battle for the Little Brown Jug. Cobb already has a pair of 200-yard outings in 2014 and the squad averages 236 yards per game - fourth best in the Big Ten. However, Michigan yields just 80.3 yards – ninth in FBS - and just 2.5 yards per carry. Cobb was held to 41 yards on 15 carries in Minnesota's 30-7 loss at TCU two weeks ago, but the senior has rushed for 100-plus yards in five of his last six conference games.
TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC. LINE: Michigan -10
ABOUT MINNESOTA (3-1): The Gophers have thrown only 65 passes all season, completing 30 for 399 yards with three TDs and five interceptions. Chris Streveler, filling in for injured starting quarterback Mitch Leidner last week, ran for 161 yards and a TD in his first start but completed just 1-of-7 passes for seven yards. Minnesota forced five turnovers in the 24-7 win against San Jose State, and will have to rely on its plus-4 turnover margin – second-best in the conference – if it wants to survive against Michigan, which has won the last six games of the series by an average margin of 28.3 points.
ABOUT MICHIGAN (2-2): The Wolverines have outgained each of their four opponents but has committed 12 giveaways and their minus-10 turnover margin is dead-last out of 125 FBS-member schools. Most fingers are being pointed at senior quarterback Devin Gardner, who has thrown six interceptions in 92 attempts this season after throwing just 16 in 471 in the 2012-13 seasons. Hoke acknowledged this week that Shane Morris, who threw an interception and lost a fumble last week and has completed only 7-of-20 passes this season, is being considered for the start.
1. Michigan leads the all-time series 73-24-3, which dates to 1892.
2. Streveler's rushing yards last week were the third-most all-time by a Gopher quarterback – 10 yards shy of MarQueis Gray's school record against Miami (Ohio) in 2011.
3. The Wolverines lead the country in red zone efficiency (10-for-10 with eight TDs), but they have failed to reach the red zone against Notre Dame and Utah.
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