Michigan is coming off a disappointing loss to Nebraska in which star quarterback Denard Robionson left the game, but the Wolverines can bounce back with a victory over Minnesota with a few key performances.
The season has not gone as planned for Brady Hoke and the Wolverines and the team is not ranked in the BCS Standings. However, Michigan is still 3-1 in the Big Ten and in the running to win the Legends division.
Meanwhile, the Golden Gophers are 1-3 and at the bottom of the division.
The Wolverines should win this game, and these are the players who can ensure everything goes according to plan.
Denard Robinson, Quarterback
The success of the Michigan offense depends entirely on how effective Denard Robinson can be.
The star quarterback re-aggravated an existing nerve injury in his throwing arm against the Cornhuskers, but Hoke is not worried about him having to miss this week’s game, according to MLive.com’s Nick Baumgardner.
If Robinson is fully healthy and able to beat the Golden Gophers with both his arm and his legs, then the Wolverines will cruise to victory.
If this injury hampers him throughout the contest, Michigan will struggle in this game.
Taylor Lewan, Offensive Tackle
For Robinson to stay healthy and have success in this game, he will need excellent protection. Left tackle Taylor Lewan is completely capable of doing this.
The 6’8”, 309-pound junior has the size and athleticism to be an elite player at both the collegiate and pro levels.
He has proved his skills throughout the season and would likely be a high draft pick if he chose to forgo his senior year. However, those are worries for a few months from now, and the Wolverines will need him to control the Minnesota defensive line.
If he can continue playing at a high level this weekend, Robinson will greatly benefit and the Michigan offense will have a productive day.
Jake Ryan, Linebacker
The Michigan defense has outperformed the offense and is allowing the 14th fewest points per game in the country.
No Wolverine on defense has been more productive than Jake Ryan. The sophomore linebacker leads the team in tackles, tackles for loss, sacks and forced fumbles. He is also tied for the lead in passes broken up.
He has been everywhere on the second level of the Wolverines defense, and the team will need him to be extremely productive once again against Minnesota.
If he continues to fly around the field on Saturday, Michigan will improve to 4-1 in the Big Ten.