By CHRIS ZADOROZNY, Sports Editor
Denard Robinson is the storyline going into today’s game. It’s obvious. He was hurt last week against Nebraska, and did not return. It was his elbow and although he may be listed as the starter on the depth chart, don’t be surprised to see him sit out indefinitely because of this injury.
It’s going to be a cold, cloudy day in TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, but it shouldn’t affect the team too much. Minnesota is an improved team, while Michigan looks to regain its footing after faltering against the Cornhuskers last weekend.
Prediction: Michigan 28, Minnesota 14
Both teams have a 5-3 record, with Michigan 3-1 in the B1G 10 and Minnesota, 1-3. Robinson has proven, yet again, that he is the leader of the Michigan offense, and we could soon find out how important he is if he doesn’t play.
If we don’t see Robinson play, quarterback turned wide receiver Devin Gardner could be fielding the snaps for Michigan. Yes, Russell Bellomy finished the game last weekend, but in practice this week, it was Gardner taking snaps.
Along with the passing game, running could also be affected if Robinson is out. Right now, he is the leading rusher for the Wolverines, almost 1000 yards on 131 carries this year.
Luckily, passing could be widely improved. Gardner is known to be a better passer than Robinson, but not as good on the ground as he is. On the other side of things, Michigan could have Bellomy in at quarterback.
If Bellomy is in, the team already trusts him, which might surprise some. He can actually throw the ball a better than Robinson, from what has been seen of him lately. He can put the ball in the receiver’s hands, but to go a full game could hurt him, as he has not yet played a full game in college. Bellomy is smaller than Gardner but could possess a better ground attack if he is the starter.
Of course, this is all speculation and could have no impact on the game. On the other side of the field, sophomore quarterback Max Shortell is leading the Golden Gophers. Shortell has thrown six touchdowns, accounted for 791 yards of passing and completed 89 passes on 166 attempts.
Sophomore running back Donnell Kirkwood leads the team in rushing, accounting for three touchdowns and 609 yards on 138 carries. On the receiving end of the Golden Gophers, one player has accounted for seven of the teams touchdowns this year, six more than the leading receiver for the Wolverines.
Junior A.J. Barker has 577 yards on 30 receptions and seven touchdowns. He is doing quite well and may cause some danger to the Wolverines secondary.
On average, the Golden Gophers have scored 25.3 points per game. Michigan is a 10 point favorite with the spread at 45 right now. That means expect the Wolverines to win by 10, but somehow both scores add up to 45. According to experts, this could be a high-scoring game.
The one problem that the Wolverines are going to run into, literally, is stopping the run. The Gophers are 66 in the FBS in rushing yards per game with 162.9. It may not sound like a lot, but if you’re in the top half, you are doing pretty good.
Expect the Wolverines to come out playing hard, with Robinson or not. If he does play, the Wolverines have a great shot at winning. If he doesn’t play, their chances slim. The defense is going to need to step up in the absence of Robinson. This game could break their season if they lose, and will help get closer to the B1G 10 Championship if they win.
To read the original post that appeared online only in The Michigan Journal, on Saturday, November 3, 2012, go to www.michiganjournal.org