The Michigan Wolverines (8-1) control their own destiny the rest of the season needing to win out in order to make the school’s first College Football Playoff appearance. They will travel to New Jersey on Saturday to face the Rutgers Scarlet Knights (1-8) in a game that might as well serve as another bye week for Michigan.
Michigan is favored by 39 points and should win with ease against a Rutgers team that has lost eight straight. The Wolverines have currently won eight straight, three of which coming against ranked opponents. Here are the keys to victory for Michigan at Rutgers…
Limit Turnovers – One of the biggest motivators for an underdog is a turnover. Michigan will look to put Rutgers away early but if Rutgers is able to force a turnover or two in the first half the game could become much closer than expected early on.
Michigan has done a great job taking care of the football this year ranking fourth in the country. They’ve only turned the ball over seven times all year. The only way I can see Rutgers scoring a touchdown on Michigan is if they force a turnover in Michigan territory.
If Michigan takes care of the ball on Saturday, they will cruise to a huge victory against a much weaker team.
Limit Penalties – Rutgers is one of the worst offensive teams in the entire nation. They rank 127th in total offense averaging just 276 yards per game. To put it in perspective for you, Michigan only has the 54th ranked offense yet they are averaging 418 yards per game.
When you pair the worst offense against the best defense in the country in Michigan it doesn’t look like a good day for Rutgers. However, Michigan has struggled with penalties all season and similar to the turnovers mentioned above, all it takes is a few bad penalties before Rutgers is in scoring range.
Even if Michigan does commit some bad penalties and Rutgers somehow manages to score from them, Michigan still isn’t in danger of losing. However, penalties are an area that Michigan MUST improve on if they are seriously going to contend for a championship. Michigan needs to use this game to correct their mistakes and work on their weaknesses before they travel to Columbus in two weeks for the showdown against Ohio State.
Remember Who They Are – Michigan is better than Rutgers, a lot better. If they bring the same swagger, the same toughness, and the same motivation to Rutgers as they have brought to the last three games of the revenge tour this game will be over before it even starts.
Michigan’s defense has been dominant and Rutgers offense has been non-existent. Michigan has won eight in a row while Rutgers has lost eight in a row. Michigan has Playoff aspirations while Rutgers is just trying to avoid embarrassment. These teams are on completely opposite sides of the spectrum, now Michigan needs to play like it.
If Michigan brings intensity and remembers that they are the fourth ranked team in the country, they will breeze to a victory on Saturday.
I usually don’t like to overlook opponents as upsets do happen seemingly every week. But if Rutgers pulls off an upset on Saturday it would go down as the greatest upset in College Football history… In other words, you can pencil in the Wolverines at 9-1.