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Posts Tagged ‘Scarlet Knights’

Michigan 35 – Rutgers 14: Peters takes over, steady in win over Rutgers

Monday, October 30th, 2017

(Isaiah Hole)

After suffering its second defeat in three games last weekend, Michigan got the benefit of a Homecoming matchup with Rutgers on Saturday to ease back into the win column. And they did just what they had to do with a 35-14 victory.

Final Stats
Michigan  Rutgers
Score 35 14
Record 6-2 (3-2) 3-5 (2-3)
Total Yards 471 195
Net Rushing Yards 334 94
Net Passing Yards 137 101
First Downs 25 9
Turnovers 1 0
Penalties-Yards 3-25 3-20
Punts-Yards 3-125 8-352
Time of Possession 36:44 23:16
Third Down Conversions 3-of-9 3-of-11
Fourth Down Conversions 1-of-2 0-of-0
Sacks By-Yards 5-25 0-0
Field Goals 0-for-1 0-for-0
PATs 5-for-5 2-for-2
Red Zone Scores-Chances 4-of-5 1-of-1
Red Zone TDs-Chances 4-of-5 1-of-1
Full Box Score

Despite a 21-point margin of victory, it didn’t start out easy, however. John O’Korn started and led the first four possessions, which resulted in two punts, a touchdown, and an interception, before giving way to redshirt freshman Brandon Peters, who made his long-awaited debut. And he did it in style, leading three straight touchdown drives to turn a 7-7 second-quarter score into a 28-7 third-quarter lead. And just like that, the Peters era had begun.

On his first drive, Peters completed passes of 15 yards to Ty Wheatley, 10 yards to Henry Poggi, and 12 yards to Nico Collins as Michigan went 77 yards on eight plays. Karan Higdon ran it in from 10 yards out.

After the Michigan defense forced a three-and-out, Peters got the ball back and completed a 12-yard pass to Zach Gentry on 3rd-and-3. Four plays later, he connected with Chris Evans on a wheel route for a 20-yard touchdown.

On his third drive — Michigan’s first possession of the second half — Peters needed just one pass attempt, a 10-yard completion to Ty Isaac, as the Wolverines marched down the field for a 4-play, 54-yard touchdown drive. Fellow redshirt freshman Kareem Walker scored his first touchdown of the season, carrying it in from five yards out.

Rutgers answered with a touchdown on its ensuing possession to pull within 28-14, but that was as close as they would get.

Peters led another promising drive, completing a pair of 15-yard passes to Grant Perry and Sean McKeon, but Michigan had to settle for a field goal attempt. Quinn Nordin missed it from 35 yards out.

The Michigan defense forced another punt, and Higdon followed up a 12-yard run with a 49-yard touchdown run to put Michigan ahead at the final score of 35-14.

Michigan’s offense racked up 471 total yards, 334 of which came on the ground on 6.5 yards per carry. Peters completed 10 of 14 passes for 124 yards and a touchdown, while O’Korn went 3-of-6 for 13 yards and an interception. Higdon rushed for 158 yards and two touchdowns, while Isaac also topped 100 with 109 yards. The two averaged 8.8 and 7.8 yards per carry, respectively. Ten different Wolverines caught a pass, led by McKeon’s three for 31 yards.

Defensively, Michigan held Rutgers to just 195 total yards and just 94 rushing yards. Rutgers entered the game 11th nationally with just six sacks allowed through seven games, but Michigan got to the quarterback five times. Devin Bush led the way defensively with 11 tackles, two for loss, and half a sack. Chase Winovich recorded 1.5 sacks, while Maurice Hurst and Rashan Gary each had one and Kwity Paye and Michael Dwumfour were each credited with a half.

Michigan stays home to host Minnesota next Saturday at 7:30pm. The Gophers are 4-4 overall and 1-4 in the Big Ten under first-year head coach P.J. Fleck.

Game Ball – Offense

Brandon Peters (10-of-14 for 124 yards and 1 touchdown)
Yes, it’s a stretch to give the game ball to a quarterback that completed just 10 passes for 124 yards, especially considering the game Higdon had with 158 yards rushing and two touchdowns. But Peters is easily the story of the game, taking over an offense that looked stagnant under O’Korn and making an immediate impact. I’m cautious to draw too many conclusions from his performance in one game — against Rutgers nonetheless — but it was a great first step and showed enough to earn his first start next Saturday. Was he perfect? No. The play before his touchdown pass, he should have been picked off. He also underthrew a wide open McKeon on the last possession of the day, a play that may have been another touchdown. But he took command of the offense, looked to be in control, made some nice plays, made the right reads, and didn’t make any costly mistakes.

Week 1 – Quinn Nordin (4-of-6 field goals, 2-of-3 from 50-plus)
Week 2 — Ty Isaac (20 carries for 133 yards, 6.7 yards per carry)
Week 3 — Donovan Peoples-Jones (2 receptions for 52 yards, 2 punt returns for 104 yards and 1 touchdown)
Week 4 — John O’Korn (18-of-26 for 270 yards, 1 touchdown, 1 interception, 5 rushes for 12 yards)
Week 5 — Karan Higdon (12 carries for 65 yards, 5.4 yards per carry, 2 receptions for 33 yards)
Week 6 — Karan Higdon (25 carries for 200 yards, 3 touchdowns, 8.0 yards per carry)
Week 7 — None

Game Ball – Defense

Maurice Hurst (8 tackles — 2 solo — 2 tackles for loss, 1 sack)
This was a tough one to pick this week because a bunch of different players made big plays for the Michigan defense. Although Devin Bush led the team in tackles, when I think about who made the biggest impact on the game, I have to go with Hurst. He was constantly in the Rutgers backfield, recorded eight tackles, two tackles for loss, and a sack. Throughout the season he has cemented himself as a high draft pick next April and that was no different on Saturday.

Week 1 – Devin Bush (7 tackles, 5 solo, 3 tackles for loss, 2 sacks)
Week 2 – Tyree Kinnel (9 tackles, 8 solo, 1 tackle for loss, 1 sack, 1 interception return for touchdown)
Week 3 – Chase Winovich (9 tackles – 3 solo – 2 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, 1 quarterback hurry)
Week 4 — Chase Winovich (6 tackles — all solo — 4 tackles for loss, 3 sacks
Week 5 — Maurice Hurst (8 tackles — 6 solo — 2.5 tackles for loss)
Week 6 — Rashan Gary (7 tackles — 3 solo — 2.5 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 2 quarterback hurries)
Week 7 — Khaleke Hudson (4 tackles — 4 solo — 1 tackle for loss, 1 quarterback hurry, 1 pass breakup)

First Look: Our bitter rival, Rutgers

Wednesday, October 25th, 2017

Michigan had a tough task going into Happy Valley to face No. 2 Penn State in front of a whiteout and a national primetime audience. But they were thoroughly embarrassed by a score of 42-13, tying for the worst loss in the Jim Harbaugh era.

Now, the Wolverines get a chance to take out their frustrations on a team they beat 78-0 a year ago. Since Saturday, national pundits and rival fans have enjoyed throwing around the stat that Michigan is currently tied with Rutgers for fourth place in the Big Ten East. The Scarlet Knights have won two straight Big Ten games, ending a 16-game conference losing streak dating back to the first Big Ten game of 2015. Let’s take a look at how the two teams compare so far this season.

Rutgers & Michigan team stats comparison
Offense Defense
Average Rank Average Rank Average Rank Average Rank
22.6 103rd 25.1 89th PPG 23.6 51st 18.6 22nd
1,174 1,213 Rush Yds 1,115 739
167.7 62nd 173.3 55th Rush/Gm 159.3 61st 105.6 11th
4.3 4.1 Rush Avg 4.5 3.2
935 1,314 Pass Yds 1,574 1,110
133.6 121st 187.7 97th Pass/Gm 224.9 71st 158.6 5th
2,109 2,527 Total Off. 2,689 1,849
301.3 122nd 361.0 97th Total Off./Gm 384.1 62nd 264.1 5th
14.8 127th 19.9 90th KR Avg 16.8 11th 14.0 2nd
10.4 32nd 8.1 56th PR Avg 9.4 91st 8.3 79th
31:11 42nd 33:10 11th Avg TOP 28:49 26:50
35% 98th 32% 110th 3rd Down% 30% 22nd 23% 1st
6-49 11th 23-151 118th Sacks-Yds 7-36 122nd 22-156 12th
21 19 TDs 19 16
4-6 (67%) 14-16 (88%) FG-ATT 11-13 (85%) 6-10 (60%)
19-23 (83%) 72nd 19-20 (95%) 8th Red Zone 21-22 (95%) 125th 14-17 (82%) 65th
15-23 (65%) 8-20 (40%)  RZ TD 12-22 (55%) 11-17 (65%)
1.52 122 1.82 103 OFEI/DFEI 1.88 60 0.96 6
20.7 117 26.2 85 S&P+ 22.8 33 17.5 14

Rutgers still isn’t anywhere close to competing for the Big Ten East, but in Year 2 of the Chris Ash era they are ahead of where they were last season. The offense is one of the worst in college football — yes, even worse than Michigan’s — but the defense is halfway decent.

Rutgers ranks approximately midway nationally in nearly every defensive statistic. Their 51st in scoring defense (23.6 points per game), 62nd in rush defense (159.3 yards per game), 71st in pass defense (224.9 yards per game), and 62nd in total defense (384.1 yards per game). They’re 60th in DFEI, which measures defensive efficiency adjusted for strength of opponents faced. But they’re all the way up to 33rd nationally in defensive S&P+, which measures play-by-play data of five factors: efficiency, explosiveness, field position, finishing drives, and turnovers. By comparison, Michigan’s defense ranks 14th in S&P+, so not much ahead of Rutgers.

Does that mean Rutgers’ defense is in the same league as Michigan’s? Absolutely not. But they are better than their stats indicate. They held Purdue to 12 points in a 14-12 win this past Saturday — the same Purdue team that Michigan let score 10 points — and it took Purdue until 25 seconds remaining to score their first touchdown of the game (they failed the two-point conversion attempt to tie the game). They held Washington to 30 points — their second-lowest output this season — and Eastern Michigan to 13 points — their lowest of the season.

But before we get carried away praising a Rutgers defense, let’s also consider that they haven’t faced the toughest schedule to date (as noted by the DFEI ranking). Yes, they hung with Washington into the third quarter, but that was the first game of the season which can always be unpredictable. The only other S&P top-50 teams they’ve faced are Purdue (48th) and Ohio State (1st). And the Buckeyes soundly beat the Scarlet Knights 56-0, nearly matching their 58-0 score from 2016. Ohio State piled up 628 total yards, averaging 6.2 yards per play. Illinois passed for 308 yards two weeks ago and Purdue, despite scoring just 12 points, piled up 474 total yards, so in the last three weeks Rutgers is allowing an average of 499 yards per game. If ever there’s a week for Michigan’s offense to taste some success it’s this one. On the other hand, if the offense struggles, it will truly be time to worry.

On the other side of the ball, Rutgers ranks 103rd nationally in scoring (22.6 points per game), 62nd in rushing (167.7 yards per game), 121st in passing (133.6 yards per game), and 122nd in total offense (301.3 yards per game). Yes, only seven teams nationally rank worse in total offense than Rutgers.

Interestingly, Rutgers actually averages more rushing yards per game than Penn State did entering the Michigan game last week. But much of that is inflated by a 326-yards performance against Morgan State, which ranks 74th nationally in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) in rush defense. Against FBS competition, Rutgers is averaging just 141.3 rushing yards per game, which would rank 89th. Except for a 274-yard rushing game against Illinois’ 107th-ranked rush defense, Rutgers hasn’t topped 131 yards on the ground. They managed just 68 yards on 2.4 yards per carry against Nebraska and 2.9 yards per carry against Ohio State.

The passing game is even worse. Rutgers hasn’t reached 200 passing yards in a game this season and has been held below 100 twice. In the last three weeks, they’ve averaged just 93.7 passing yards per game while completing just 45.6 percent. By comparison, Michigan’s passing offense the last three weeks is averaging 140.7 passing yards per game and 50.6 percent completions. That’s how bad Rutgers’ passing game has been.

If there’s one bright spot for the Rutgers offense it is the fact that they’ve allowed just six sacks through seven games, a figure that ranks 11th nationally. That’s 17 fewer sacks than Michigan’s offensive line has allowed.

As you can see, Rutgers is slightly improved over last year and has a decent defense and an offense even worse than Michigan’s. Given all that has transpired this season I wouldn’t expect a repeat of last year’s result, but anything but an easy Michigan win this Saturday should definitely be cause for real, legitimate concern.

#4 Michigan 78 – Rutgers 0: Michigan decimates Secret Society of Something University

Monday, October 10th, 2016


Bobby Henderson took a quick handoff, bulled his way up the middle and crossed the goal line for a 13-yard touchdown. On that run, Michigan’s nth-string fullback who hadn’t had a single carry in his first four seasons at Michigan, outscored Rutgers 7-0. His three fourth-quarter carries for 26 yards finished just eight yards short of Rutgers’ entire running game on Saturday night. It was that kind of night in Piscataway as Michigan demolished Rutgers 78-0.

Rutgers hung around longer than expected, taking advantage of rainy conditions early in the game, holding Michigan to just five yards on eight plays in its first three possessions of the game. The Rutgers offense, however, fared even worse, gaining just three yards on nine plays in its first three possessions.

Final Stats
Michigan Rutgers
Score 78 0
Record 6-0, 3-0 2-4, 0-3
Total Yards 600 39
Net Rushing Yards 481 34
Net Passing Yards 119 5
First Downs 23 2
Turnovers 1 1
Penalties-Yards 3-25 7-41
Punts-Yards 4-169 16-603
Time of Possession 33:16 26:44
Third Down Conversions 6-of-11 0-of-17
Fourth Down Conversions 1-of-1 0-of-0
Sacks By-Yards 4-28 0-0
Field Goals 0-for-0 0-for-0
PATs 10-for-10 0-for-0
Red Zone Scores-Chances 8-of-8 0-of-0
Red Zone Scores-TDs 8-of-8 0-of-0
Full Box Score

Then Jabrill Peppers took over. On the third play of Michigan’s fourth possession, Peppers lined up at quarterback, faked a handoff, and took off down the left sideline. Rutgers safety Anthony Cioffi pushed him out of bounds at the four after a 63-yard gain. Ty Isaac punched it in on the next play and Michigan never looked back.

The Wolverines rushed for 481 yards, averaging 8.6 yards per carry with 11 different players getting at least one carry. Two — Chris Evans and Karan Higdon — eclipsed 100 yards and Isaac and Peppers came close to joining them.

Michigan racked up 600 total yards and the only reason it wasn’t more was because of the job the defense did in holding Rutgers to just 39. Michigan’s average starting position for the entire game was its own 41 yard line. The Wolverines started four drives in Rutgers territory.

When Michigan came out of the locker room to start the second half already up 43-0, the starters’ night was over. The Michigan bench in the second half out-gained Rutgers’ full-game offense 286 to 39 and had four individual drives that went for more yards than Rutgers’ entire game.

Defensively, Michigan was just as brilliant. It took Rutgers into the third quarter to get above water in total yards. The Scarlet Knights rushed for 35 yards — 25 of which came on their final two drives — and completed just 2-of-18 passes for five yards. They converted none of their 17 third downs and punted 16 times for 603 yards.

It was a thorough a beatdown as a game between two Division 1 college football programs could be. After Michigan’s fourth touchdown, point-after holder Garrett Moores picked up the hold and ran it into the end zone for a two-point conversion. Whether Jim Harbaugh planned it to send a message to Chris Ash for challenging his summer satellite camp or whether he put it in simply to make future opponents spend time preparing for it is anyone’s guess. But with a bye week looming, Michigan’s performance on Saturday sent a message to the rest of the Big Ten that it is for real and it doesn’t care who is in its way.

Game Ball – Offense

Khalid Hill (2 carries for 2 yards, 2 touchdowns, 2 receptions for 19 yards, 1 touchdown)
The entire Michigan offense could be nominated this week — aside for maybe De’Veon Smith who fumbled on Michigan’s third possession — but since I have to pick one, I’ll go with Khalid Hill. The senior H-back had one of the most efficient stat lines you will ever see. Hill is Harbaugh’s favorite goal line back and got the ball at the 1-yard line twice in the first half on Saturday, powering his way into the end zone both times. On Michigan’s first possession of the second half, he took a short pass from backup quarterback John O’Korn and found the end zone for his first receiving touchdown of the season. Through six games, Hill now leads Michigan with eight touchdowns and also leads the team in scoring, a stat that kickers usually dominate.

Week 1 — Chris Evans (8 carries, 112 yards, 2 touchdowns)
Week 2 — Wilton Speight (25-of-37 for 312 yards, 4 touchdowns)
Week 3 — Jake Butt (7 receptions for 87 yards)
Week 4 — Grant Newsome, Ben Braden, Mason Cole, Kyle Kalis, Erik Magnuson (326 rush yards, 0 sacks allowed)
Week 5 — Amara Darboh (6 receptions for 87 yards, 1 touchdown)

Game Ball – Defense

Taco Charlton (2 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 2 sacks)
Like the offensive side, when a defense holds an opponent to just 39 total yards and no points, you could just close your eyes and point to someone on the stat sheet to choose the player of the game. But when I think about the player who made the most impact on the game, Taco Charlton comes to mind. Although they were his only two tackles of the game, senior defensive end recorded two of Michigan’s four sacks. Like the other starters, he only played the first half, but made his presence felt in the Rutgers backfield. He’s now tied with Chris Wormley for the team lead with four sacks on the season.

Week 1 — Mike McCray (9 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 1 forced fumble)
Week 2 — Rashan Gary (6 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, 0.5 sacks)
Week 3 — Jabrill Peppers (9 tackles, 3.5 TFL, 1 sack, 2 kick ret. for 81 yards, 4 punt ret. for 99 yards, 1 TD)
Week 4 — Maurice Hurst (6 tackles, 3 solo, 3 tackles for loss, 1 sack)
Week 5 — Channing Stribling (2 tackles, 2 interceptions, 2 pass breakups)

M&GB staff predictions: Rutgers

Saturday, October 8th, 2016


Michigan passed its first big test of the season with a 14-7 win over No. 8 Wisconsin last week. Rutgers, meanwhile, lost to Ohio State 58-0. Michigan visits Rutgers on Saturday for its first road game of the season.

Sam picked up his first weekly prediction win last week with his prediction of Michigan 24 – Wisconsin 10. Here are this week’s picks:

Staff Predictions
Michigan Rutgers
Justin 49 7
Derick 48 3
Sam 48 3
Josh 52 7
Joe 54 3
M&GB Average 50 5

Michigan picked up a big win over a top 10 opponent last week and now hits the road for the first time this season. It’s a night game in what should be a raucous environment. If ever there was a letdown game, this would be it. I’d expect Michigan to start slowly on Saturday night, but never be in real danger of losing. Perhaps an early turnover or a few early penalties that stall the first couple drives. But once the Wolverines settle in and exert their will, they’ll pull away and cover the 30-point spread.

Expect a big rushing day for Michigan as the running back by committee keeps going and going and going. Wilton Speight won’t be asked to do too much. A few timely tosses to Jake Butt and a couple tries downfield will be all they’ll need to keep the defense honest. De’Veon Smith cracks 100 yards and either Chris Evans or Karan Higdon busts a long touchdown run.

Michigan 49 – Rutgers 7


Michigan’s last trip to Rutgers didn’t go so well, but the Scarlett Knights will see a different team this time around.

It’s Michigan’s first road game, but it should be a good game to feel things out away from home. Rutgers is coming off an ugly 58-0 loss to Ohio State and won’t have star player Janarion Grant back this season.

Michigan’s defense is one of the best Rutgers will see all season, so the loss of Grant will loom large. Jourdan Lewis and Channing Stribling have a chance to shut down a passing attack that managed just three completions and 33 yards in Columbus.

This is one of the best home games Rutgers has this season, and those fans think Michigan is a rival. But even in that atmosphere, I think Michigan will run away with the game.

Michigan 48 – Rutgers 3

Sam (1)

After a hard fought battle against Wisconsin to cap off an undefeated five game home streak, the Wolverines take to the road to play their wannabe rivals in Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights, coming off a couldn’t-have-been-worse 50-8 shellacking at the hands of their partners Ohio State, are running a defense that is on life support and sending out an offense that has no pulse. While Rutgers fans are calling this their Super Bowl, I can’t see it being much more than a leisurely walk on the beach for Michigan. The defense dominates once again while the rushing attack maintains its momentum with five touchdowns. Give me the Maize and Blue big.

Michigan 48 – Rutgers 3

Josh (1)

As I said in this week’s The Numbers Game, 2016 Rutgers is bad, and they should feel bad. If Chris Ash sticks around long enough I’m sure he’ll turn them around but for now this Rutgers team is pretty bad, on both sides of the ball.

Quarterback Chris Laviano isn’t a threat on designed runs but can make things happen if the pocket breaks down. Unfortunately for him Michigan’s defensive line will be the best he’s faced thus far and he shouldn’t break more than one or two runs. From what I’ve seen he doesn’t really ever get a chance to pass the ball downfield much because his offensive line cannot protect him. Also unfortunately for Laviano — and the entire offense — their one good player, Janarion Grant, is out. This has the makings of a shutout, but Laviano’s ability to scramble worries me. I think they’ll end up with a few points as a result of a busted play or two. That said, if Michigan was to completely bottle up a team and keep them off the scoreboard this is probably their best chance.

There isn’t much that this game will tell us about Michigan that we don’t already know. Michigan will dominate on both sides and win with ease.

Michigan should be able to play plenty of back-ups throughout the second half and that’s a good thing as the showdown with Sparty looms. I’d really like to see is Michigan get their kicking game in order. If Quinn Nordin is healthy again, and it appears he is, I’d love to see him lockdown one of those three spots, or even Ryan Tice. But someone needs to step up and get some real game action over the next two games.

I’m not sure Rutgers can score but then again Michigan has been prone to giving up big plays it shouldn’t (it just doesn’t give up many). A bad turnover by Speight sets them up in scoring position, but that’s all they manage. Michigan wins big and heads into the bye week 6-0.

Michigan 52 – Rutgers 7

Joe (3)

The first road game of the season comes after the biggest test so far. That battle against Wisconsin will help this team down the line, but not this week. This Rutgers team is a bad football team. I’ve tried to find some positives to talk about but the best that I can come up with is how the best players from this state wear Maize and Blue. Let’s start with the quarterback play. Ughhhh. Moving on to the defense. Blaaaahhh. Special teams may be even as long as they can make 50 percent of their field goal attempts. Heck, we’d take that right about now. This one will get ugly fast! The defense will get pressure and force two turnovers a half, maybe more, and the ground game will be a focal point as the Wolverines try to gel with a new left tackle. I can’t see this one staying close any longer than it takes to cook a few brats on the grill. Michigan big.

Michigan 54 – Rutgers 3

First Look: Rutgers

Monday, October 3rd, 2016


It certainly wasn’t pretty, but Michigan passed it’s first major test of the season. Their reward? A road trip to New Jersey. Rutgers lost 58-0 to Ohio State on Saturday to fall to 2-3 overall and 0-2 in the Big Ten. The line in Vegas opened at 26.5 points in Michigan’s favor. Can the Scarlet Knights rally around the primetime matchup and keep it within four touchdowns? Let’s take a look at how the two teams compare four games into the season.

Rutgers & Michigan statistical comparison
Rutgers | Michigan Rank Defense Rank
Points Per Game 21.8 | 44.4 108 10
32.4 12.4 97 | 6
Rushing Yards 964 1,049 1,137 561
Rush Avg. Per Game 192.8 209.8 51 36
227.4 112.2 115 24
Avg. Per Rush 4.3 | 4.9
5.3 3.3
Passing Yards 701 1,171 982 677
Pass Avg. Per Game 140.2 234.2 123 69 196.4 135.4 32 2
Total Offense 1,665 2,220 2,119 1,238
Total Off Avg. Per Game 333.0 444.0 116 51 423.8 247.6 84 5
Kick Return Average 21.7 15.5 61 124 21.5 19.9 76 | 48
Punt Return Average 14.0 21.5 20 2 9.1 13.0 81 108
Avg. Time of Possession 26:40 33:05 108 22 33:20 | 26:55
3rd Down Conversion Pct 35% | 47% 101 28
36% | 15.0% 50 1
Sacks Allowed-Yards/By-Yards 11-82 | 9-66
75 46
11-53 | 20-133 60 | 4
Touchdowns Scored 13 | 30
22 | 8
Field Goals-Attempts 6-7 4-9
3-5 | 2-5
Red Zone Scores (9-12) 75%|(23-27) 85% 107 | 61
(11-17) 65%|(4-6) 67% 9 12
Red Zone Touchdowns (4-12) 33%|(19-27) 70% (10-17) 59%|(3-6) 50%
Off. S&P+/Def. S&P+ 20.9 33.6 114 40 30.5 6.8 72 1

Michigan goes from one extreme to the other in terms of opponent. Whereas Wisconsin featured one of the nation’s best offenses, Rutgers features one of the worst. In fact, Rutgers features the Big Ten’s worst defense and worst offense.

The Scarlet Knights have beaten Howard (52-14) — which currently ranks 106th in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) — and New Mexico (37-28) — which currently ranks 94th in S&P+ — and lost to No. 14 Washington (13-48), Iowa (7-14), and No. 2 Ohio State (0-58).

Offensively, Rutgers averages just 21.8 points per game, which ranks 108th nationally and second to last in the Big Ten. In the three losses, Rutgers has scored just 20 points total. They rank 116th nationally in total offense (last in the Big Ten), 123rd nationally in passing offense (last in the Big Ten), and 51st nationally in rushing (6th in the Big Ten). In addition, Rutgers converts just 35 percent of its third downs, which ranks 101st nationally and 12th in the Big Ten, and has scored touchdowns on just 33 percent of their 12 red zone trips.

In the three losses, Rutgers has averaged just 267.7 total yards — 130.3 passing and 137.3 rushing. The rushing number is even worse considering they have averaged just 2.9 yards per carry. Against Ohio State this past Saturday, Rutgers managed just 116 total yards, going 3-for-16 passing for 33 yards and rushing for just 83 yards on 2.2 yards per carry.

Defensively, Rutgers isn’t much better, ranking 97th nationally in scoring defense (last in the Big Ten), 84th in total defense (last in the Big Ten), 115th in rush defense (last in the Big Ten), and 32nd in pass defense (7th in the Big Ten). The Rutgers defense has held just one opponent under 350 yards and that was Howard, who gained 253. New Mexico put up 462 yards and Ohio State 669, including 410 on the ground, averaging 7.7 yards per carry on 53 carries.

FBS quarterbacks have completed 62.5 percent of their passes against Rutgers’ defense, but have thrown the ball just 28 times per game. Washington’s Jake Browning and Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett each tossed four touchdown passes. But opponents have averaged 43 rushes per game while averaging 5.3 yards per carry. Three of five opponents have had a 100-yard rusher on Rutgers’ defense. Howard’s Anthony Philyaw rushed for 112 yards on 22 carries (5.1 ypc), New Mexico’s Lamar Jordan had 101 yards on 14 carries (7.2 ypc), Iowa’s Akrum Wadley and LeShun Daniels combined for 161 yards on 6.4 yards per carry, Ohio State’s Mike Weber 144 yards on 14 carries (10.3 ypc). Ohio State’s Demario McCall also nearly got there with 85 yards on 10 carries (8.5 ypc).

Rutgers’ only hope in this one is if Michigan has a letdown game after a big win and on its first time away from Ann Arbor this season. But even that likely won’t be enough for the Scarlet Knights to win the game, especially without their only real playmaker, Janarion Grant, who is out for the season with an ankle injury. The main excitement will be whether or not Michigan can beat Rutgers worse than Ohio State did.

Michigan 68 – Rutgers 57

Wednesday, January 27th, 2016

Irvin-Robinson vs Rutgers(

Remember last week’s message from Richard Pitino to his own team that Michigan enacted by winning ugly? Well…Michigan did it again, this time against the cellar-dwelling Scarlet Knights of Rutgers in a 68-57 win.

It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t all that encouraging. But it was a win. That’s the message the Wolverines seemed to be preaching in the aftermath of a sloppy victory that saw the home squad stumble, brick, and crawl its way to an 11-point win with only 20 made field goals (and only nine two-pointers) in a game they were favored to win by 25.

After the win, John Beilein did not hide his displeasure with the way things went, saying that he saw a big family hanging out by the main staircase and hoped that they had a good time, because Beilein “did not”.

“So somebody had to have a good time today,” he went on. “You have those games where we’re fortunate to get a win based on your performance, but we’ll just grow from it and learn from it and see where we go moving forward.”

Fortunate is a pretty apt word to use in this case, given that Michigan very well may have lost to any other team in the Big Ten with the way they played this evening. To say that Rutgers is bad this season would be putting it kindly. Eddie Jordan’s Scarlet Knights are undermanned, undersized, and in over their heads. They are now 6-15 on the season and 0-8 in conference play, with not much hope of pulling a win out of their hats before the end of the year. Rutgers sits at a woeful #274 on, flanked by the almighty New Hampshire Wildcats and Fairleigh Dickinson Knights, and a whopping 74 spots behind the next-worst team in the Big Ten in Minnesota (also winless in conference play). They shoot a lowly 45.6 percent from inside the three-point line and an even lowlier 30.9 percent outside the arc. You get the point – Rutgers is a poor excuse for a Big Ten basketball team this year.

Four Factors
Michigan Rutgers
52 eFG% 47
17 OReb% 17
15 TO% 22
41 FTR 28

And the Wolverines could not slam the door on them all night.

Duncan Robinson led the way in the scoring column with 18 points on 14 shots, but was just 1-of-5 from two-point range with a pair of ugly turnovers.

Derrick Walton added 14 on 10 shots while missing all four of his attempts inside the arc and also coughing it up twice.

Zak Irvin did well to tally eight assists and 12 rebounds, but he too struggled to knock down shots, going 1-of-6 from distance on his way to just eight total points and two turnovers.

Mark Donnal was the beneficiary of many of those assists, finishing with 10 points on six shots, but also gave it away twice.

Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman rounded out the starting lineup and did not turn the ball over, but he remained quiet offensively, missing all three of his shot attempts (all triples) and collecting a single assist in 29 minutes.

Perhaps Aubrey Dawkins was the best overall performer for the Maize and Blue with an efficient 11 points (1-of-2 2pt, 3-of-4 3pt) in just 19 minutes. But even he missed a wide open, violent tomahawk jam attempt down the heart of the lane when he tried to finish with a one-handed flourish and instead sent the ball clanging off the heel all the way back to half court.

There’s good reason to believe that Michigan took this one lightly, and it’s hard to blame them for it given the competition level. A loss here, however, would have been absolutely devastating. And though tonight’s matchup had all the makings of a trap game, Rutgers is not quite good enough yet to win on the road versus a talented Michigan squad even when they are off.

Still, this one never felt in great doubt despite Michigan trailing for 14+ minutes of the first half and never leading by more than 14 throughout.

So the Wolverines will march on with another ‘W’ notched on their resume – no asterisk needed – for the third straight game to bring their conference mark to 6-2 and their overall record to 16-5, already reaching last year’s win total with 10 regular season games to play.

At the end of the night, a win, as they say, is a win. No matter how it comes.

Quick hitters

• Following the win, John Beilein said he got an ominous feeling when, before the game, he could not find his scouting report on Rutgers for one final pre-game read through, as he does so every game day. As of press time, he had yet to locate it, but he claims this was the first time it had ever happened to him (perhaps unsurprisingly, given the level of competition) in his many years of coaching.

• Speaking of bizarre and unique happenings tonight, Rutgers made a mental mistake that John Beilein also never remembers having seen in his career that started when, late in the game, Zak Irvin stepped to the free throw line for a one-and-one opportunity and bricked the first attempt off the rim. A Rutgers player nonchalantly caught the carom, glanced around briefly as everyone looked confused and sat still (including Irvin, it should be noted), and proceeded to toss the ball to a referee sitting out of bounds on the baseline, giving Michigan the ball back. Four seconds later, Derrick Walton drew a foul and made both his freebies.

Beilein felt it was a critical possession, given that Michigan was up just eight points with 45 seconds remaining when the gaffe occurred. It seems highly unlikely that Rutgers would have pulled off the miraculous last-minute comeback á la Virginia, but we’ll never know.

Michigan’s Three Stars

***Derrick Walton Jr.***
14 points (0-of-4 2pt, 3-of-6 3pt, 5-of-5 FT), three rebounds (two offensive), four assists, one steal, two turnovers in 38 minutes

**Aubrey Dawkins**
11 points (1-of-2 2pt, 3-of-4 3pt), one rebound, one assist, zero turnovers in 19 minutes

*Zak Irvin*
8 points (1-of-2 2pt, 1-of-6 3pt, 3-of-5 FT), 12 rebounds, eight assists, two turnovers in 38 minutes

Season Three-Stars Standings

Derrick Walton Jr – 21
Duncan Robinson – 16
Caris LeVert – 15
Zak Irvin – 7
Aubrey Dawkins – 5
Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman – 3
Mark Donnal – 1
Spike Albrecht – 1
Moritz Wagner – 1
Final Game Stats
34 Mark Donnal* 4-6 0-0 2-2 0 4 4 2 10 1 2 1 1 31
10 Derrick Walton* 3-10 3-6 5-5 2 1 3 1 14 4 2 0 1 38
21 Zak Irvin* 2-8 1-6 3-5 0 12 12 2 8 8 2 0 0 38
22 Duncan Robinson* 5-14 4-9 4-4 1 3 4 3 18 2 2 0 0 34
12 Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman* 0-3 0-3 3-4 0 2 2 1 3 1 0 1 1 29
03 Kameron Chatman 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 2
11 Andrew Dakich 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0+
13 Moritz Wagner 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 2
24 Aubrey Dawkins 4-6 3-4 0-0 1 0 1 2 11 1 0 0 0 19
32 Ricky Doyle 2-2 0-0 0-0 0 2 2 1 4 0 0 0 0 7
Totals 20-49 11-28 17-20 5 24 29 13 68 17 10 2 3 200
Rutgers 22-50 3-18 10-14 5 25 30 18 57 11 14 0 6 200
Full Stats
Beilein tie watch
(Sam Sedlecky, M&GB)

(Sam Sedlecky, M&GB)

Michigan hoops preview: Rutgers

Wednesday, January 27th, 2016

Michigan vs Rutgers
Wednesday, Jan. 27 | Ann Arbor, Mich. | 7 p.m. EST | Big Ten Network
Line: Michigan -23.5
77.8 Points/gm 67.8
(555-1,130) 49.1 Field Goal % 41.9 (493-1,176)
(216-517) 41.8 3-pt FG % 31.4 (99-315)
(229-310) 73.9 Free Throw % 68.2 (272-399)
11.5 FT Made/gm 13.6
33.0 Reb/gm 35.4
16.1 Assists/gm 11.5
10.0 Turnovers/gm 13.6
64.3 Points/gm 78.0
(470-1,109) 42.4 Field Goal % 45.2 (576-1,273)
(139-404) 34.4 3-pt FG % 33.7 (141-418)
31.5 Opp. Reb/gm 41.0
5.8 Steals/gm 6.0
2.5 Blocks/gm 3.7
Individual Leaders
Caris LeVert (17.6), Duncan Robinson (12.4) Points/gm Corey Sanders (14.1), Deshawn Freeman (13.1)
Derick Walton (5.8), Caris LeVert (5.4) Reb/gm D.J. Foreman (6.2), Deshawn Freeman (5.3)

One of the Big Ten’s two conference unbeatens fell on Tuesday night when Indiana lost to Wisconsin in overtime. That’s good news for Michigan, which is still very much in the conference title race. The Wolverines host Indiana next week and will look to get to 7-2 before then, beginning tonight with Rutgers, which has yet to win a Big Ten game.

Rutgers is 0-7 in conference, fighting with Minnesota for last place. The Scarlet Knights are 6-14 overall with wins over Rutgers-Newark (72-59), Howard (82-70), Central Arkansas (87-84), Central Connecticut State (75-59), Fairleigh Dickinson (72-64), and UMass Lowell (89-66). Since starting conference play, Rutgers has lost by an average of 25 points per game. Last week, they were blown out by Purdue 107-57 and then lost to Iowa by 14.

Rutgers is led by freshman guard Corey Sanders (6-foot-2, 175) who averages 14.1 points and 3.6 assists per game. He’s the second-best three point shooter on the team, shooting 34.1 percent. He scored a season high 23 points against Purdue on 10-of-20 shooting, but went just 4-of-16 overall and 0-for-6 from three-point range against Iowa last Thursday.

Junior forward Deshawn Freeman (6-foot-7, 220) leads the team with 6.2 rebounds and 1.1 blocks and ranks second with 13.1 points per game, but has been out since Nov. 30.

Sophomore guard Mike Williams (6-foot-2, 190), sophomore forward D.J. Foreman (6-foot-8, 240), fifth-year senior forward/center Greg Lewis (6-foot-9, 240), and senior guard Omari Grier (6-foot-4, 180) are the other starters. Williams averages 11.7 points, Foreman 8.3, Grier 7.2, and Lewis 4.3. Senior guard Bishop Daniels (6-foot-3, 185) has started eight games and averages 9.1 points and 3.9 rebounds per game.

As a team, Rutgers has the Big Ten’s second-worst scoring offense (67.8 points per game) and worst scoring defense (78 points per game). Their scoring margin is minus-10.2 points. The next closest is Minnesota at minus-4.3. Rutgers is the third-worst shooting team (41.9 percent) and second-worst three-point shooting team (31.4 percent). They’ve made a conference-low 99 three-pointers. By comparison, Michigan has made 216. Rutgers also has the second-worst field goal defense in the Big Ten, allowing opponents to shoot 45.2 percent.

Per Vegas, Michigan is favored by 23.5 points. Whether or not Michigan covers, it should be a comfortable win and Michigan should improve to 6-2.

#17 Michigan 49 – Rutgers 16: Rudock career high leads Michigan past Rutgers

Sunday, November 8th, 2015

Peppers vs Rutgers(

It took 146 years, but the winningest program in college football history finally topped the nation’s oldest program for the first time ever on Saturday afternoon. Michigan avenged last season’s 26-24 loss in Piscataway with a dominating 49-16 victory in the Big House on Military Appreciation Day.

About the only thing that didn’t go right for Michigan’s offense was a sloppy opening possession that began with a fumble that was overturned and ended with a missed 37-yard field goal. The Wolverines scored touchdowns on their next five possessions — scored points on eight of their next nine — to blow out the Scarlet Knights.

Final Stats
Michigan Rutgers
Score 49 16
Record 7-2 (4-1) 3-6 (1-5)
Total Yards 487 225
Net Rushing Yards 150 128
Net Passing Yards 337 97
First Downs 25 17
Turnovers 0 1
Penalties-Yards 6-60 7-80
Punts-Yards 3-133 7-245
Time of Possession 33:04 26:56
Third Down Conversions 7-of-13 3-of-13
Fourth Down Conversions 0-of-0 0-of-1
Sacks By-Yards 4-32 0-0
Field Goals 2-for-3 3-for-3
PATs 5-for-5 1-for-1
Red Zone Scores-Chances 8-of-9 3-of-4
Full Box Score

Jake Rudock threw for a career high 337 yards on just 18 completions and Michigan racked up a season high 487 total yards of offense. The Michigan defense held Rutgers out of the end zone, allowing just three field goals, while the special teams gave up a kickoff return touchdown to Janarion Grant — his fourth return for a score this season.

Rudock had touchdown passes to Jehu Chesson (13 yards) and Amara Darboh (eight yards) and also ran one in himself from four yards out. Drake Johnson had a one-yard touchdown run and De’Veon Smith a four-yarder. But Michigan’s most impressive touchdown came from jack of all trades Jabrill Peppers, who took a bubble screen at the 18, made a man miss, and then zig-zagged through the Rutgers defense into the end zone. Kenny Allen added a pair of second half field goals from 34 yards and 28 yards out to reach the game’s final score.

When Michigan scored its first touchdown of the second half to take a 41-16 lead, Jim Harbaugh elected to go for two and Rudock carried it in for the conversion. Harbaugh dismissed the decision as “playing the percentages” because “that’s what the chart says.” But the players revealed a different igniter: Rutgers players chirping in the tunnel at halftime.

“They were just saying things like ‘oh yeah, it’s our time in the second half’ or ‘we’re the comeback kids,'” said Peppers, a New Jersey native. “Or ‘these guys can’t really finish games.”

Cornerback Jourdan Lewis, who broke Michigan’s single season record with his 19th pass breakup, echoed his secondary mate and paraphrased Harbaugh’s halftime direction.

“Put the foot on the gas, and finish these guys off,” Lewis said.

Were those his exact words?

“I can’t really repeat what he said,” Lewis responded, laughing. “He wanted to bring that fire back in the second half and finish them off.”

Rutgers managed to gain 110 yards from there on, but no points. Chris Laviano went just 11 of 26 for 97 yards and an interception. Running back Robert Martin managed 81 yards on 10 carries thanks to a few big runs, which Harbaugh attributed to the Scarlet Knights “trapping us.”

For Michigan, Smith led the way on the ground with 73 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries (4.9 yards per carry). Johnson gained 27 yards and a score on seven carries. Jake Butt recorded his first career 100-yard receiving game with four receptions for 102 yards.

At 7-2 overall and 4-1 in the Big Ten, Michigan now has a great opportunity to win the Big Ten East division with just three games remaining. Michigan State fell by one point to Nebraska on Saturday night. The Spartans visit unbeaten Ohio State on Nov. 21, and if the Buckeyes win that one as expected, Michigan needs only to win out to capture the division and a trip to the Big Ten Championship Game.

Michigan travels to Bloomington, Ind. next Saturday for a 3:30pm tilt with the Indiana Hoosiers (4-5, 0-5).

Game Ball – Offense

Jake Rudock (18 of 25 for 337 yards, 2 TDs, 1 carry for 4 yards, 1 TD)
If you ask most Michigan fans, the main thing holding Michigan back in Jim Harbaugh’s first season is the lack of an explosive playmaker at quarterback. But Jake Rudock has been improving and looking more comfortable in the Michigan offense each week, and he had his best game of the season on Saturday. The senior Iowa transfer completed 18 of 25 passes for a career high 337 yards and two touchdowns. He also evaded pressure and beat the Rutgers defense to the pylon for a four-yard touchdown run, and ran in a two-point conversion. He looked comfortable and confident all game before giving way to Wilton Speight in the fourth quarter.

Week 1 – Jake Butt (8 rec for 93 yards and 1 TD)
Week 2 – De’Veon Smith (23 carries for 126 yards, 3 TDs)
Week 3 – Ty Isaac (8 carries for 114 yards, 1 TD)
Week 4 — De’Veon Smith (16 carries for 125 yards and 1 TD)
Week 5 — Drake Johnson (13 carries for 68 yards, 1 TD, 1 rec for 31 yards, 1 TD)
Week 6 — Mason Cole, Ben Braden, Graham Glasgow, Kyle Kalis, Erik Magnuson
Week 7 — Kenny Allen (3-for-3 field goals, 2-2 PATs)
Week 8 — Jabrill Peppers (4 carries for 16 yards, 1 TD, 1 punt return for 41 yards, 1 kick return for 43 yards)

Game Ball – Defense

Chris Wormley (4 tackles, 2 TFL, 2 sacks)
After shredding opposing offensive lines in the first two weeks of the season, Chris Wormley has been relatively quiet the last six weeks. But he broke out again against Rutgers on Saturday with a pair of sacks of quarterback Chris Laviano. The first came on 3rd-and-5 from the Michigan 5-yard line, forcing Rutgers to kick a field goal. The second also came on third down, this time on Rutgers’ first possession of the second half, forcing a punt. Wormley now ranks fifth in the Big Ten in solo tackles for loss with 10 and has been a crucial part of one of the nation’s top defenses.

Week 1 – Chris Wormley (5 tackles, 3 TFL)
Week 2 – Chris Wormley (6 tackles, 3 TFL, 1 sack)
Week 3 – Jourdan Lewis (3 tackles, 4 PBU)
Week 4 — Ryan Glasgow (3 tackles, 2 TFL)
Week 5 — Desmond Morgan (9 tackles, 1 INT, 2 PBU)
Week 6 — Jourdan Lewis (4 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 INT, 1 touchdown, 1 PBU)
Week 7 — Willie Henry (5 tackles, 3 TFL, 2 sacks, 1 PBU)
Week 8 — James Ross (9 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 sack)

#17 Michigan vs Rutgers game preview

Friday, November 6th, 2015

Game Preview_Rutgers_banner

College football’s two oldest FBS programs played for the first time in 135 years of existence last season, but Michigan came up on the losing end. The Scarlet Knights became the only Big Ten school to have a winning record over Michigan as of 2014. The other Big Ten newcomer, Maryland, did the same a couple weeks later, but while Michigan avenged that loss in this year’s Big Ten opener, the Wolverines have a chance to do the same to Rutgers tomorrow afternoon.

Quick Facts
Michigan Stadium – 3:30p.m. EST – BTN
Rutgers Head Coach: Kyle Flood (4th season)
Coaching Record: 25-20, 12-15 B1G (all at Rutgers)
Offensive Coordinator: Ben McDaniels (1st season)
Defensive Coordinator: Joe Rossi (2nd season)
Last Season: 8-5 (3-5)
Last Meeting: Rutgers 26 – Michigan 24
All-Time Series: Rutgers leads 1-0
Record in Ann Arbor: 1st meeting
Jim Harbaugh vs Rutgers: 1st meeting
Last Michigan win: 1st meeting
Last Rutgers win: 2014 (26-24)
Current Streak: Rutgers 1

Rutgers comes in with a 3-5 record, still looking for a win over a team with a winning record. Norfolk State — an FCS school — is just 2-6, Kansas is 0-8, and Indiana is 4-4. Rutgers beat those three 63-13, 27-14, and 55-52, respectively. The Scarlet Knights lost to Washington State (37-34), Penn State (28-3), Michigan State (31-24), Ohio State (49-7), and Wisconsin (48-10).

It has been a troubled season in Piscataway, N.J., beginning with accusations of head coach Kyle Flood contacting a professor about the academic status of defensive back Nadir Barnwell. Then, just two days before the season opener, six players were arrested for home invasion and dismissed from the team. Then, star receiver Leonte Carroo was arrested and summarily suspended for a domestic violence incident following the Week 2 win over Washington State. Then, Flood was suspended for three games and fined $50,000 due to the aforementioned allegations.

Flood is likely done after the season but he’s hoping for a big win to add to his resume and Michigan is the last shot. Nebraska, Army, and Maryland remain after the trip to Ann Arbor, and with last year’s win over Michigan under their belt, Rutgers won’t fear the Wolverines. Let’s take a look at what Michigan will face.

When Rutgers has the ball

In Ben McDaniels’ first year coordinating the Rutgers offense, it ranks 72nd nationally and seventh in the Big Ten in total offense (393.9 yards per game), 67th and seventh in rushing (172.8 yards per game), 72nd and seventh in passing (221.1 yards per game), 41st and fourth in pass efficiency (141.76), and 78th and eighth in scoring (27.9 points per game).

Their success largely depends on whether or not the school’s career touchdown leader plays. Leonte Carroo was the Big Ten’s leading returning receiver entering the season with 1,086 yards in 2014, and despite playing in just five of eight games so far this season, he has half that. His 105.4 yards per game and nine touchdowns currently lead all Big Ten receivers. He reportedly didn’t practice this week with a lingering ankle injury suffered against Ohio State, so if he can’t go Michigan’s defense will get to face the Scarlet Knights without their top weapon.

That makes it harder for redshirt sophomore quarterback Chris Laviano, who ranks ninth in the Big Ten with an average of 192 passing yards per game. He has, however, completed 129 of 200 passes for a conference leading 64.5 percent. But one-fifth of those completions have gone to Carroo, and Carroo is really the lone deep threat. His 12 touchdown passes rank fifth behind Connor Cook, Tommy Armstrong, Nate Sudfeld, and Christian Hackenberg, but again, nine of those have gone to Carroo. So who does he have to throw to?

Junior Andre Patton leads the team with 25 receptions since he has played in all eight games, and ranks second on the team with 327 yards, but he has hauled in just one touchdown. Sophomore Janarion Grant has caught 21 passes for 181 yards, while redshirt junior Carlton Agudosi has 15 receptions for 305 yards and a touchdown. Agudosi’s 6-foot-6, 220-pound frame is resemblant of Devin Funchess last season and will be a challenge for Michigan’s secondary. He was held without a yard in last season’s meeting, but Grant did some damage with three catches for 87 yards and two rushes for 23 yards. Aside from Carroo, Rutgers’ leading pass catcher in terms of touchdowns is redshirt sophomore tight end Matt Flanagan, who has caught three.

The running game utilizes three backs pretty consistently. Sophomore Josh Hicks is the leading rusher with 99 carries for 511 yards (5.2 yards per carry) and four touchdowns. He has two 100-yard games, an 18-carry, 118-yard performance against Norfolk State and a 21-carry, 113-yard game against Kansas. Fellow sophomore Robert Martin is right on his heels with 501 yards on 86 carries (5.8 yards per carry) and four scores. He also eclipsed 100 yards against Kansas (102 on 17 carries) in addition to Indiana (17 for 124 and three touchdowns) and is a change of pace back compared to Hicks and James. Fifth-year senior Paul James has started every game but ranks third in carries (64), yards (357), and touchdowns (one). He is featured more as a pass catcher out of the backfield than the other two with six catches for 40 yards.

Perhaps the biggest win of the season so far is the health of the offensive line. All five starters have started all eight games, and with only one out of eligibility after this season that bodes will moving forward. Left tackle Keith Lumpkin is the lone fifth-year senior and he has career starts under his belt anchoring the left side of the line. Redshirt junior right guard Chris Muller is the second most experienced with 33. The other three, redshirt sophomore left guard Dorian Miller, redshirt junior center Derrick Nelson, Redshirt junior right tackle J.J. Denman, are all first-year starters.

When Michigan has the ball

While the Rutgers offense is slightly on the other side of average, both nationally and in the Big Ten, in pretty much every category, the defense is a different story. It ranks 111th nationally and 13th in the Big Ten in total defense (454.8 yards per game), 54th and 11th in rush defense (155.9 yards per game), 119th and 12th in pass defense (298.9 yards per game), 114th and 14th in pass defense efficiency (151.32), and 100th and 12th in scoring defense (34.0 points per game).

The main reasons for their lack of success have been off the field problems and injuries. Three-fourths of the starting secondary was dismissed from the team in early September, All-Big Ten defensive tackle Darius Hamilton suffered a season ending injury, and redshirt junior safety Davon Jacobs has missed time due to injuries as well.

The linebacking corps is the one constant, led by redshirt junior Steve Longa, who leads the team and the Big Ten with 91 tackles to go along with four for loss and one sack. He also led the team in tackles last season and was named a first team Freshman All-American by the Sporting News in 2013. Fifth-year senior Quentin Gause is a team captain an the second leading tackler with 71 tackles. He leads the team with nine tackles for loss and has one sack. Senior Kaiwan Lewis is the third starter and the third leading tackler with 42. The South Carolina transfer also has three tackles for loss and two interceptions.

Redshirt junior Quanzell Lambert and fifth-year senior Djwany Mera are the defensive ends and have 34 tackles, 5.5 for loss, and 1.5 sacks between them. Mera has five quarterback hurries. Redshirt junior defensive tackle Julian Pinnix-Odrick leads the team with six quarterback hurries and has 23 tackles, one for loss. Redshirt sophomore nose tackle Sebastian Joseph has 13 tackles, 3.5 for loss, and one sack.

The secondary has gotten torched all season as backups were thrust into starting roles right before the season’s first game. Redshirt freshman cornerback Isaiah Wharton leads the secondary with 39 tackles, six pass breakups, and seven passes defended, in addition to one interception. The other starting corner, freshman Blessaun Austin, has 23 tackles, one for loss, one interception, and three pass breakups. Junior free safety Anthony Cioffi is the elder statesman of the crew as the only non-freshman. He ranks fifth on the team with 35 tackles and leads the team with three picks. Strong safety Kiy Hester is a redshirt freshman and has 30 tackles, an interception, and five pass breakups.

The other third

Senior kicker Kyle Federico is one of the Big Ten’s most experienced kickers, but ranks 10th with a 66.7 field goal percentage. He has hit 6 of 9 this season with a long of 48 and has made 40 of 59 throughout his career with a long of 52. Fifth-year senior punter Joey Roth ranks 11th in the Big Ten with an average of 39.7 yards per punt. Of his 37 punts, he has booted two more than 50 yards, downed seven inside the 20 and knocked four into the end zone for touchbacks.

If Carroo doesn’t play tomorrow, Rutgers’ best chance to score a touchdown might be on special teams with Grant’s ability to return both punts and kicks. He’s Jabrill Peppers with touchdowns under his belt — three of them to be exact. He has taken two kickoffs and a punt back for touchdowns so far this season, averaging 24.5 yards per kick return and 9.2 per punt return.


Michigan is going to win. The only question is by how much, and that depends on whether or not Carroo plays. If he does, and is at full strength, I’ll give Rutgers a touchdown or two. But I don’t expect him to be at full strength if he plays at all, and Jourdan Lewis has the edge if that’s the case.

Michigan’s defense will look much more like the one that shut down BYU, Maryland, and Northwestern in three straight weeks than it did against Michigan State and Minnesota the past two times out. Michigan State possessed the best passing quarterback in the league and a very good stable of receivers, while Minnesota gained many of its big plays off of fluky tipped passes or underthrown balls that fell into a receiver’s hands. Sooner or later, Michigan’s secondary is going to make those plays, and without Carroo, Rutgers doesn’t have the deep threat to challenge Michigan’s secondary. The defensive line will pressure Laviano into mistakes and the front seven will keep the run game in check.

Offensively, Michigan will focus on De’Veon Smith and Drake Johnson pounding the rock against a rush defense that has allowed 490 rushing yards on 5.6 yards per carry in the past two weeks. But when Jake Rudock — assuming he’s healthy enough to play — does pass, Rutgers’ secondary is as vulnerable as any the Wolverines have faced so far. Look for Jake Butt and Amara Darboh to have success underneath where the Scarlet Knights’ baby back four been most vulnerable.

Michigan 37 – Rutgers 3

First Look: Rutgers

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015


Michigan kept its slim Big Ten title hopes alive with a goal line stand and a little bit of luck at Minnesota last Saturday. Now, after facing two solid defenses, Michigan gets to return home and face one of the worst defenses in the conference in the form of Rutgers. It’s also a payback game for last season’s meeting in Piscataway. Let’s compare the two teams.

Rutgers team stats & Michigan comparison
Rutgers | Michigan Rank Defense Rank
Points Per Game 27.9 | 28.6 78 | 69
34.0 | 11.4 101 2
Rushing Yards 1,382 1,397 1,247 597
Rush Avg. Per Game 172.8 174.6 67 63
155.9 74.6 56 2
Avg. Per Rush 4.4 | 4.4
4.7 2.4
Passing Yards 1,769 1,472 2,391 1,338
Pass Avg. Per Game 221.1 184.0 72 105 298.9 167.2 119 9
Total Offense 3,151 2,869 3,638 1,935
Total Off Avg. Per Game 393.9 358.6 71 98 454.8 241.9 111 2
Kick Return Average 21.4 34.4 63 2 17.1 19.0 12 32
Punt Return Average 9.2 12.3 55 31 11.6 5.4 99 24
Avg. Time of Possession 31:52 | 33:26 35 | 5
28:08 | 26:34
3rd Down Conversion Pct 42.0% | 41.0% 50 T56
41.0% | 22.0% 87 | 2
Sacks Allowed-Yards/By-Yards 15-134 | 13-67
T56 | T41
11-72 | 20-154
T109 | T36
Touchdowns Scored 30 28
36 | 11
Field Goals-Attempts 6-9 | 10-12
7-8 | 5-8
Red Zone Scores (19-24) 79%|(28-29) 97% T95 3
(29-36) 81%|(10-12) 83% T42 T60
Red Zone Touchdowns (14-24) 58%|(21-29) 72% (25-36) 69%|(6-12) 50%

Rutgers hasn’t beaten a team with a winning record yet this season, but almost pulled off the Big Ten upset of the season last month when it took Michigan State to the brink. A 22-yard field goal tied the game with 4:21 remaining, but Michigan State scored a touchdown with 43 seconds remaining to escape Piscataway. Since then, Rutgers won a 55-52 shootout over Indiana and got outscored 97-17 in back to back losses to Ohio State and Wisconsin.

The main reason for their lack of success is a lack of defense. The only thing Rutgers is half good at is stopping the run, where the Scarlet Knights rank 56th nationally. But that’s still 11th in the Big Ten. Much of that rush defense success is a result of their schedule. Rutgers held Norfolk State — a 2-6 FCS school — to minus-3 rushing yards in the season opener, Washington State — which passed 66 times — to 81 rushing yards in Week 2, and 0-8 Kansas to 64 rushing yards in Week 4. Since then, Penn State rushed for 330 yards in a 28-3 win over Rutgers, while Ohio State recorded 281 and Wisconsin 209.

As bad as their rush defense has been against quality competition, the pass defense has been monumentally worse. It ranks 119th out of 127 teams nationally and 12th in the Big Ten. Six out of eight opponents have passed for at least 217 yards. Washington State passed for 478 yards, Indiana 464, and Michigan State 367. Even Norfolk State passed for 199 yards and two touchdowns. By comparison, Jake Rudock has thrown for at least 199 yards just once all season. Perhaps Saturday can make it twice.

Offensively, Rutgers is slightly better than Michigan at moving the ball, averaging about 35 more total yards per game, but that hasn’t translated into more points. Michigan averages slightly less than a point more per game than Rutgers. The main difference is in the passing game where Rutgers ranks a respectable seventh in the Big Ten. Chris Laviano has the best completion percentage in the conference at 64.5 percent, but ranks ninth in yards per game, one spot ahead of Rudock.

On the ground Rutgers averages two fewer yards per game than Michigan. Like their rush defense, their offensive rushing success is largely due to big games against Norfolk State (291 yards) and Kansas (312 yards).

An area in which Michigan may have a big advantage is special teams. While Michigan ranks second nationally in kick returns and 31st in punt returns, Rutgers ranks 12th in kick return coverage and 99th in punt return coverage. Unlike Michigan, the Scarlet Knights haven’t been able to use their return game to set up their offense with good field position, as they rank 63rd in kick returns and 55th in punt returns.

After Michigan’s last two games, the pass defense will surely be tested by Laviano and outstanding receiver Leonte Carroo. His matchup against Jourdan Lewis will be a great one to watch, similar to the one against Michigan State’s Aaron Burbridge three weeks ago. But if the Wolverine pass defense holds strong, there’s no reason Michigan shouldn’t win this one convincingly and even the series with Rutgers.