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Mobile QBs will prove key to victory

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Michigan and Minnesota haven't played since 2008, and since then both teams have changed coaches, one has opened a new stadium while the other's stadium saw major renovations, and both have endured tough stretches.

Now, though, Michigan is undefeated, while Minnesota is coming off a loss to FCS North Dakota State. And, as always, they'll play for the Little Brown Jug -- a series the Wolverines have dominated, losing only three times since 1969.

With the start of the Big Ten season, we'll take a look at a look at four key storylines for the Wolverines-Golden Gophers matchup:

Rothstein's Front Four

1. Denard Robinson's arm
If Michigan is going to have a successful season, it'll need more of a run-pass balance than the Wolverines now have. Robinson has been inaccurate -- completing less than 50 percent -- and while that might not be all of his own doing, this game provides his best chance in the remainder of the season to have a dominant passing day. The Golden Gophers aren't really good in any phase. Al Borges said this week Robinson's accuracy will improve as he gets more comfortable in the offense, and he needs to find that comfort level sooner rather than later.

2. Handling mobile quarterbacks
While it is unknown whether Minnesota quarterback Marqueis Gray will play this week -- he is struggling with a foot injury -- both defenses should be more than adequately prepared to handle shifty quarterbacks. Both see it every day in practice, so this could be the most bottled up both Gray and Robinson are on the ground all season. Then again, no team on the schedule has been able to control Robinson. The only thing that slowed his running ability was the torrential downpour in the opener against Western Michigan.

3. Continuing momentum
In the past two seasons, Michigan has entered the Big Ten undefeated. Two years ago, the Wolverines won one league game. Last year, Michigan won three. This season's team seems a bit different, though, if for no other reason than it has a defense that can stop opponents. Michigan needs to have another good defensive performance to carry over three consecutive good games into a critical two-game road swing starting next weekend at Northwestern, followed by playing at rival Michigan State. The Wildcats are getting quarterback Dan Persa back this week, and the Spartans will have an extra week to prepare, as they're off Oct. 8.

4. The health of Jerry Kill
Minnesota's coach already has had seizures twice this season -- including one during the Gophers' 28-21 loss to New Mexico State. Kill was hospitalized at the Mayo Clinic this week, was released, returned to practice, and is expected to be coaching this weekend in Ann Arbor. Will his players rally around him? Even if they do, do they have enough talent to match up with the Wolverines?

Michael Rothstein covers University of Michigan sports for WolverineNation. He can be reached at michaelrothsteinespn@gmail.com or on Twitter @mikerothstein.