Rutgers at (20) Michigan
Time: 11 AM CST, Saturday
Spread: MIC -28
Odds c/o 5dimes
The Michigan Wolverines took a tumble in the AP Rankings last week. A 14-35 loss to then-No. 13 Wisconsin will do that. Michigan now finds itself No. 20 as it hosts the lowly Rutgers football team Saturday at 11 AM CST on the Big Ten Network. Oddsmakers at 5dimes favor the Wolverines by a heady 28-points with an over/under set at 49 points, per the most recent odds. Let us dissect this matchup next.
If getting exposed can happen in just one week, in just one matchup, color the Wolverines exposed. Wisconsin dismantled the Wolverines and cost it nine-spots in the AP Rankings, as Michigan fell from No. 11 to No. 20 with the lopsided loss. Moving away from the mildly effective arm of Jack Coan, Wisconsin simply ran the ball down the throats of the Wolverines’ defense.
Coan attempted just 13 pass plays, while Wisconsin rushed 57 (!) times for a total rushing gain of 359 yards, and five TDs via the rush. Jonathan Taylor had his first 200-plus yard game of 2019, with 203 yards on his 23 attempts and two TDs to his credit. Bradrick Shaw picked up 53-yards on just three attempts. Almost all had success on a per-rush basis, except for Coan, as it was.
The Badgers averaged 6.3 yards-per-attempt, and Michigan simply did nothing to eclipse this. Shea Patterson completed under 50 percent and threw an interception (Though he did manage two touchdowns) and the Wolverines were wildly ineffective while rushing, with just 40 yards on 19 attempts. Backup quarterback Dylan McCaffrey led the way with 21 total rushing yards on three tries, and he also completed 3 of 8, but it is tough to label that as any silver lining considering the sheer dominance the Badgers displayed over this Wolverine team.
Most of these red flags were fairly lucid in the 24-21 victory over Army the week before, as it was a victory that illuminated many areas of concern which the Badgers finally fully exposed. Can the Wolverines manage to get back on track against Rutgers—a team with a defense weak enough that Patterson can re-discover some of his accuracies and amass some yardage? Perhaps. But let us not yet jump to any real conclusions quite yet.
Rutgers is 1-2 on the season after consecutive losses to Iowa and Boston College. It defeated UMass in its opener. The Scarlet Knights, in typical fashion, are a very weak defensive team. It is surrendering 233 passing yards per game (No. 77) and 120 via the rush (No. 103). Rutgers is an average enough team offensively, but with its weak defense that is fairly meaningless, really. With Boston College putting up 30 on the defense, it stands to reason that AP-ranked opponents like the Wolverines this week are going to present some real issues for the Knights.
McLane Carter has had his struggles already at QB. Though he has thrown for 368 yards and two TDs, he has also thrown four interceptions and averaged under eight yards per completion. The brightest spot for the Knights offense has been top-backfield option Isaih Pacheco. He has rushed for 239 yards on 46 attempts with all four of Rutgers’ rushing touchdowns. He has attempted 46 rush attempts, while No. 2 option Raheem Blackshear has taken just half that many, 23, with just 77-yards on the season.
While Pacheco is certainly a solid play with 5.2 yards-per-carry to his credit, Rutgers does not have enough going at the other skill-positions to keep the ball from going to Pacheco nearly every play. However, Blackshear does function quite well as a receiver, having come out of the backfield to catch 22 for 255 yards and two touchdowns (all of which are team-highs). While the Knights can certainly match a lot of teams offensively, the defensive concerns will be too much against Michigan.
Any chances at a SU victory are slim, though covering the spread remains in play with the way Michigan has defended the rush—which is Rutgers’ strength. Both Pacheco and Blackshear could be enough to keep this much closer than the spread set by college football oddsmakers.