Photo Credit: Patrick Barron/MGoBlog
In the final night game of the season and the match up of the two of the most unique coaches in college football, Jim Harbaugh and the Michigan Wolverines (6-2) will host PJ Fleck and the Minnesota Gophers for the Little Brown Jug. And it should be a pretty good one as Brandon Peters will get his first career start under the lights in prime time against a young, hungry team.
Check out the four things to watch in the 2017 Michigan vs. Minnesota game:
1. Peters First Start
Speaking of Peters, the redshirt freshmen will have the world watching his first start. But I don’t expect that to overwhelm him. Peters is a calm, cool and collected quarterback. Though the stage will be big for a first start, as long as the staff continues to call him a simple game, I think he’ll show the eager fan base much more than he did against Rutgers.
Minnesota is a decent football team that has lost 3 of its 4 games by one score, including a 30-27 loss to Michigan State and a 10-17 loss to Iowa last week. This game could be pretty close as well but it will all depend on Peters. If he can have another good performance, Michigan shouldn’t have a problem controlling this game. We’ll see if he backs up my prediction and plays well or struggles and makes this game more interesting than it should be.
2. Student Section
Last week against Rutgers, the student section looked like it got caught in a time machine and went back to the Brady Hoke era. It was weak, to say the least. And it was seen by everyone, including the players who’ve retweeted the picture several times to complain about their fellow student support.
Being a night game for a trophy will have the section full but I’m interested in seeing if the students show out even more to help out the players. As you saw against Rutgers when Peters came into the game, this young team feeds off the excitement from the crowd. The team could always use an extra boost on Saturday night. We’ll see if the students give it to them.
3. Thomas on Offense
Michigan brought in a ton of talent at the wide receiver position in the 2017 recruiting class but one of the most electrifying receivers in the class is corner back Ambry Thomas. The former Detroit King standout used show out on offense for his high school team and put on a memorable show for the world to see at The Opening. And it looks like the staff remembers it well as, per player and coaches interviews, Thomas is a candidate to play on offense.
Pep Hamilton’s reaction when he heard Ambry Thomas revealed he’s working on offense. pic.twitter.com/aZfhzv2tPl
— Isaiah Hole (@isaiahhole) November 1, 2017
Though I doubt there’s much of it in this game, if at all, this is definitely something to watch out for. Thomas could be another spark for this offense to work alongside Peters, Higdon and the young receivers and tight ends. We’ll see if they unleash him for a big play against the Gophers.
(Hopefully the staff has better plans than just a wildcat option or jet sweep).
4. Can Michigan Win a Night Game?
Night games are some of the best times for a nationally televised audience to watch a team so it’s not a good thing that Michigan is 0-2 in its first two games under the lights this season. The ugly loss against Michigan State in the Big House and a blowout loss to Penn State in Happy Valley have to be leaving bad tastes in the team and coaching staff’s mouths.
But they’ll get a chance to wash it out (a little bit) thanks to this forced night game from the Big Ten Network. Michigan will have its chance at redemption and I believe they’ll do just that and get a nice win behind Peters, Higdon and Don Brown’s defense.
What are you going to watch closest in this game? Will Peters keep his good play going from last week? Can the offensive line continue to grind out yards on the ground? Will Ambry Thomas play offense? Let us know in the comment section below!