Michigan-Minnesota Preview Capsule
No. 15 Michigan (5-2, 2-1 Big Ten) at Minnesota (4-3, 1-2), 7 p.m. EDT (ESPN)
Line: Michigan by 13 1/2
Series Record: Michigan leads 73-25-3
WHAT’S AT STAKE
Stunned by rival Michigan State on the last play, an improbable fumbled punt, Michigan had a week off to recover mentally and now must bounce back on the field to stay relevant in the Big Ten East Division race. The Wolverines will face a motivated Minnesota team, which was saddened Wednesday by the sudden retirement of coach Jerry Kill. The Gophers start a grueling stretch, with trips to Ohio State and Iowa following this game.
Michigan’s stifling defense against Minnesota quarterback Mitch Leidner. The Wolverines have allowed the fewest points per game in the FBS and the second-fewest yards rushing per game, so Leidner will have his work cut out for him, easily the biggest challenge he’s faced in this up-and-down junior season. Leidner, who’s coming off a career-best 301 yards and 26 completions in an Oct. 17 loss to Nebraska, played well at Michigan last year. He went 14 for 22 for 167 yards and one touchdown, helping guide the Gophers to a 30-14 victory.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Michigan: CB Jourdan Lewis. Tied the single-game school record with six pass breakups against Michigan State to go with a season-high seven tackles.
Minnesota: TE Brandon Lingen. The sophomore had a career-high 54 yards on three catches against Nebraska.
FACTS & FIGURES
Defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys has taken over on an interim basis for Kill, who has battled epilepsy and decided he couldn’t make that work anymore with the demanding job. The Gophers went 4-3 in 2013 with Claeys as acting head coach while Kill took a step back to focus on his health. … The last time Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh coached a game at Minnesota, his 49ers lost 24-13 to the Vikings Sept. 23, 2012, at the now-demolished Metrodome. San Francisco reached the Super Bowl that year. … Michigan has not lost at Minnesota since 1977, a 16-0 victory by the Gophers at now-demolished Memorial Stadium. The last time the Gophers gained the Little Brown Jug trophy in consecutive years was 1962-63. … The Wolverines lead the FBS in third-down defense, allowing opponents a 20 percent conversion rate (19 for 97).