Michigan Football heads to New Jersey on Saturday November 10 to take on the 1-8 Rutgers Scarlet Knights at 3:30 PM on Big Ten Network. The Wolverines enter the matchup as the top team in the conference while the Knights are comfortably in the cellar. These teams are basically perfect opposites of one another; the Wolverines have won 8 in a row, Rutgers has lost 8 in a row, Michigan is 8-1, Rutgers is 1-8, Michigan is undefeated in the conference, Rutgers is winless. Michigan rose to #4 in the rankings for the College Football Playoff and appear in control of their own destiny in regards to making the 4 team playoff. Taking care of business, and doing so in appropriately dominant fashion, on Saturday is the next step.
Offensively, the Scarlet Knights have been abysmal. They rank 113th in rushing on the season and 119th in passing. They haven’t scored more than 17 points in a game since their season opener. Artur Sitkowski leads the way at quarterback and posted his best game of the season last week at Wisconsin, throwing for 261 yards and a score. On the season however, he has completed less than half of his passes and thrown 15 interceptions with only 4 touchdowns. Running back Raheem Blackshear is the team’s most productive back as well as most productive pass catcher. He has 437 yards on 100 carries on the ground and another 316 yards through the air on 35 receptions. Attempting to move the ball against the Wolverines top ranked defense is going to be a challenge, to say the least. Look for extended playing time for young players such as Ambry Thomas and Aidan Hutchinson once the Wolverines have a comfortable lead.
On defense, Rutgers hasn’t fared much better. They’re 99th in the country in points allowed and have given up over 30 points in 6 games, while allowing over 40 in 3 of those matchups. They’re 120th in the country against the run but 21st against the pass. Linebacker Trevor Morris leads the team with 77 tackles while linemen Mike Tverdov and Elorm Lumor, despite battling injury, are tied with the team lead of 3 sacks. The Wolverines are likely to run the ball early and often this weekend. Karan Higdon could reach the century mark for the 8th straight game before this one even reaches halftime.
This game might be easy for the Wolverines to overlook. Coming off three straight victories over Top 25 opponents and only two weeks away from a potential monumental showdown in Columbus, lowly Rutgers still needs to be taken seriously as this is an opportunity for the Wolverines to get some style points in the eyes of the playoff committee with a dominant victory. Karan Higdon will rush for over 100 yards again, Josh Uche will pad his sack total, and the defense will score another touchdown this week on the way to an easy victory. Shea Patterson should not be asked to do very much through the air. In the second half, Joe Milton and Brandon Peters will see the field on offense as they compete over the newly open backup quarterback spot and several other reserve players will get their most extended playing time of the season.
Matchup to Watch
Michigan rushing attack vs Rutgers front seven
Rutgers has been gashed by the run all season. Michigan will look to take advantage of the mismatch and control the game on the ground. 300 total rushing yards is not out of the question.
Final Score Prediction
Michigan 56, Rutgers 3