Michigan football visits Rutgers next — there’s no way it loses, right?
What we learned vs. Penn State
Offensive line surge
With all due respect to Shea Patterson and the defense, Michigan’s offensive line transformation has been the story of the season. This group went from one of the worst units a year ago to one of the best in the Big Ten through nine weeks this year. U-M pounded the bXem trước (mở trong cửa sổ mới)all against Michigan State, a top-notch rush defense, two weeks ago. It neutralized Penn State’s heralded pass rush Saturday and ran for 259 yards. There aren’t many more questions left to answer. This is a legit outfit and a strength of this football team at the moment.
Michigan’s defense continued its dominant stretch against Penn State on Saturday, holding the Nittany Lions to their lowest total yardage since the first game of the 2015 season. U-M’s pass defense picked up two more interceptions, including one that was returned for a score. Trace McSorley and Miles Sanders did nothing against this group. Rashan Gary is healthy. Josh Uche had two more sacks. Everything is trending up for Don Brown’s unit as the final three games approach.
Backup quarterback Dylan McCaffrey suffered a broken collarbone late in the win, according to Jim Harbaugh. Other than that, Michigan is about as healthy as can be. Gary returned from a shoulder injury. Tarik Black played a handful of snaps, and looked plenty healthy on a touchdown catch that got called back for a hold. Aubrey Solomon left the game briefly but ran out of the tunnel for the second half. Everyone goes through bumps and bruises this time of year. But overall, U-M couldn’t ask for better health entering game 10.
Next up: Rutgers Scarlet Knights
Matchup: No. 4 Michigan (8-1, 6-0 Big Ten) at Rutgers (1-8, 0-6).
Kickoff: 3:30 p.m., Saturday, HighPoint.com Stadium; Piscataway, N.J.
TV/radio: Big Ten Network; WWJ-AM (950), WTKA-AM (1050).
Line: Wolverines by 36 1/2.
Know the foe
Rutgers is the worst team in the Big Ten, and it’s not real close. The Scarlet Knights did get a better performance out of freshman quarterback Artur Sitkowski in a road loss against Wisconsin this week, as he went 20 of 39 for 261 yards and a touchdown. But on the season, he has thrown three touchdowns against 15 interceptions. The Knights are rushing for just 106 yards per game against Big Ten teams. Defensively, they’ve given up 429.2 yards per game in the league. This team isn’t as bad as the group that lost 78-0 the last time U-M went to Rutgers. But it’s not exactly good either.
Three things to watch
Ground and pound
Michigan’s rushing game is getting better and Rutgers’ rush defense is downright terrible. The Knights are giving up 234.3 yards per game on the ground after giving up more than 300 last week vs. Wisconsin. Physically, Rutgers has been unable to compete against most teams in the Big Ten this season. The Wolverines, meanwhile, have pushed around every team they’ve faced on the ground — at one point or another. Karan Higdon’s 1,000-yard quest should be notched this week.
Rutgers’ pass offense is horrible. On the year, the Knights have four touchdowns against 17 interceptions. U-M’s pass defense is the best in the nation by a sizable margin. There could be opportunities for big plays in the secondary. And while Rutgers has attempted to get the ball out as quick as possible this season, the pass rush could be effective again Saturday in New Jersey.
Dylan McCaffrey’s regular season is over after a broken collarbone. Michigan couldn’t afford an injury to Shea Patterson before this game, but it especially can’t now with three left to play. It’ll be interesting to see whether Michigan can get this game under control and get reps for both Brandon Peters and Joe Milton in New Jersey.