Michigan opened up as underdogs against Minnesota for the season opener, but is now viewed as a 3.5-point favorite. There's no doubt that it's going to be a tough game and it's the type of contest that usually gives the Wolverines trouble. It's on the road, at night, against a ranked opponent and it's the first game of the year. All of those things make the matchup extremely difficult to predict, but here are five things I think we'll see on Saturday night in Minneapolis.
Joe Milton will score at least three touchdowns
In his debut as the starter, Milton needs to be on point in order for the Wolverines to win. How on point? That remains to be seen, but I do think he'll look pretty good in his first game as a starter. He's got fast, talented and versatile weapons all over the field, but most of them are unproven. I still think Milton will find them and it'll lead to scores at least three times. Milton is a weapon with his legs too, and a rushing score would count toward the total.
Chris Evans will score a touchdown
I've been beating the Evans drum all off season and I think we'll see some impressive play out of him on Saturday. No one wants to play more than he does after missing last season and he's tailor made for Josh Gattis' offense. I think he'll be put in a position to succeed on numerous occasions, which will result in him making it into the end zone, either by run or reception.
Daxton Hill will be involved in a turnover
We saw last year that Hill has a knack for being around the ball even though he didn't play very much. That sentiment was reinforced within the last couple of weeks by defensive coordinator Don Brown.
"It’s funny, some guys are just always around the ball no matter if they know what they’re doing or not. He was one of those guys," Brown said. "'Oh, the ball is over there and there’s Daxton.' Even when he was going through the learning curve and we were taking him through that, he was always around the ball. If you ask me what he was elite at; he was always around the ball."
Because of that, and because Tanner Morgan and Minnesota are going to air it out, I think Hill is going to get his hands on a ball and give it back to the Wolverines.
Quinn Nordin will make at least a 45-yard field goal
I expect Michigan's offense to be pretty explosive at times, but I also expect it to sputter at times. When it does, Nordin will be the guy kicking field goals and we all know he has a massive leg. The weather could be a little hairy on Saturday night, so I'm not sure he has a 50 yarder in him, but I see him knocking one through from at least 45 yards.
At least five true freshmen will play
This year is going to be really interesting in terms of playing freshmen. Last year, rookies were allowed to play at least four games without burning a redshirt. This year, because of COVID-19, there's no limit. Theoretically, true freshmen could play in every game and will still be "true freshmen" when they come back next season. If I'm a coach, I'm playing everyone at least a little bit. Some guys are gamers so why not see what they have?
With that in mind, I do think there are five we'll see. Running back Blake Corum, wide receivers AJ Henning and Roman Wilson, cornerback Andre Seldon and linebacker Nikhai Hill-Green. Based on speed for Corum, need for the receivers and Seldon and early reviews on Hill-Green, I think they'll be on the field.
We've also heard good things about offensive lineman Zak Zinter, even though it's really tough for true freshman to be physically ready, safety Makari Paige and linebackers Kalel Mullings and William Mohan. The freshmen class is pretty good top to bottom, but these are the guys we've heard the most about.