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Detroit News scouting report: Michigan at Minnesota

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

Michigan at Minnesota

Kickoff: 7:30 Saturday, TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis

TV/radio: ABC/950

Line: Michigan by 2.5

Angelique S. Chengelis of The Detroit News breaks down the Wolverines’ Week 1 matchup with Minnesota:

Michigan defensive back Vincent Gray  breaks up a pass against Iowa.

Key matchup

GOPHERS' RECEIVERS VS. WOLVERINES' CORNERS

Minnesota returns the Big Ten receiver of the year, Rashod Bateman, who had opted out then returned to the Gophers when the season was reinstated. Pressure from Michigan’s front seven will be critical to give the new starters at cornerback, Vincent Gray and, from all indications, Gemon Green, time to do their jobs effectively as they get their feet wet. Gray is 6-foot-2, 190 and Green is 6-2, 181, so there won’t be an enormous mismatch with Batemen (6-2, 210), but can they keep up with one of the best receivers in Gophers’ history?

Subscribers: Detroit News predictions: Michigan vs. Minnesota

Gophers to watch

Rashod Bateman, WR: The 6-2, 210-pound junior receiver announced on Aug. 4 that he was forgoing his remaining eligibility at Minnesota because of COVID-19 health concerns but opted back in after the Big Ten announced its safety guidelines for the 2020 season. Bateman set freshman and sophomore receiving records at Minnesota. He has played in 26 games and has 111 career catches (tied for 12th in school history) for 1,923 yards (tied for eighth) and 17 touchdowns (tied for fifth). Bateman was named Third-Team All-American last season and first-team All-Big Ten. As a sophomore, he caught 60 passes for 1,219 yards and 11 touchdowns. He set school freshman records for receptions (51) and receiving yards (704) in 2018.

Tanner Morgan, QB: Morgan, a 6-2, 215-pounder was All-Big Ten Second Team last season after setting Minnesota single-season records for passing yards (3,253), passing touchdowns (30), completion percentage (66.0%), passing yards per game (250.2), touchdown-interception ratio (4.28) and pass efficiency rating (178.7). He also set a school bowl game record with 278 passing yards in the win over Auburn. Morgan is 15-4 as a starter and his winning percentage of 78.9% is the highest for any Gopher quarterback with 10 or more starts since 1959.

Mohamed Ibrahim, RB: Ibrahim, a redshirt junior, is 24th on Minnesota’s career rushing list with 1,764 yards in only 21 games. Because of injuries in 2018, Ibrahim started and rushed 217 times for 1,160 yards (second most for a Gopher freshman) and nine touchdowns. He rushed for more than 100 yards in five games in 2018 to become the first Gopher freshman to do so since Laurence Maroney in 2003, and set a freshman single-game record with 224 yards against Georgia Tech. He has 316 career rushes and has averaged 5.58 yards per carry, which ranks sixth all-time in school history. Ibrahim rushed for 604 yards last season and had only one negative rushing yard. He rushed for 1,160 yards in 2018 and had only 16 negative rushing yards as a freshman. 

Subscribers: Wojo’s Pigskin Picks: From griping to hyping, Big Ten set to crash college football party

Facts and figures

►In their last 15 games, the Gophers are 13-2, including wins over Auburn, Wisconsin and Purdue. That record ranks second in the Big Ten behind only Ohio State, which is 14-1. Penn State and Iowa are 12-3, while Wisconsin is 11-4 and Michigan is 9-6. Indiana and Michigan State are both 8-7, while Nebraska is 7-8 and Illinois is 6-9. Purdue and Northwestern are both 5-10, while Maryland is 3-12 and Rutgers is 2-13.

P.J. Fleck

►Last season, Minnesota was one of only three Big Ten teams to win at least 11 games. The Gophers finished 11-2, while Ohio State was 13-1 and Penn State also finished the regular season, 11-2.

►This will be the 104th meeting between the Big Ten rivals and the 97th time the Gophers and Wolverines will compete for the Little Brown Jug, college football’s oldest trophy game. In this matchup for the Jug, it’s the first time since 1968 a ranked Minnesota team (No. 21) faces another ranked team — Michigan is No. 18 — to start the season. The Gophers last home win against Michigan was in 1977, and their last three wins have all come in Ann Arbor (2014, 2005 and 1986).

achengelis@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @chengelis