It's crunch time for Rutgers (3-5). With just four games remaining and three wins needed to become bowl eligible for the tenth time in 11 seasons, there's very little room for error. The odds are stacked against the Scarlet Knights this week, as they are 24-point underdogs against
crazy person head coach Jim Harbaugh and the No. 16 Michigan Wolverines. Add in the fact that Saturday's game will take place at The Big House, one of college football's toughest environments for road teams to play in, and you're left with Rutgers looking at long odds. Here's everything you need to know as Rutgers looks to pull off the big upset.
I wrote about the weekly injury report in full yesterday, which you can check out here.
WR Leonte Carroo (questionable, lower body injury) is on the injury report for the third straight week, still dealing with the apparent ankle injury he sustained against Indiana. Carroo was able to start against Ohio State a couple weeks ago, but hasn't seen the field since the first half of that game. Flood said Carroo was not cleared to play last week, but it's also possible Rutgers is just holding him out until he's 100%. He could be looking at another game-time decision.
Rutgers' secondary continues to be frighteningly thin, as SS Davon Jacobs has been ruled out for the Michigan game with an upper body injury. Like Carroo, Jacobs was injured againt Indiana. Unlike Carroo, Jacobs has not been able to get back on the field at all since getting hurt. Kiy Hester will start at SS once again, with Andre Hunt and true freshman Najee Clayton behind him.
Here are the most notable names from yesterday's injury report.
* SS Davon Jacobs (upper body)
* WR John Tsimis (lower body)
* RB Desmon Peoples (upper body)
* WR Leonte Carroo (lower body)
* DT Eric Wiafe (lower body)
* WR Janarion Grant (lower body)
* WLB Steve Longa (lower body)
* MLB Kaiwan Lewis (upper body)
* LT Keith Lumpkin (upper body)
Kyle Flood met with the media on Monday to discuss Saturday's game. Here are the highlights.
* Flood begins by calling Michigan one of the top defenses in the country. He points out that their offense has eight seniors, two juniors and a sophomore, and they play "a very physical brand of football."
* A reporter asks how similar or different this Michigan team is than the one Rutgers beat last year before Michigan overhauled its coaching staff. Flood notes they run more of a pro-style offense with Jake Rudock at quarterback now. He says they're a very tough offense on third down.
* When asked if the team is thinking about bowl eligibility entering the last quarter of the season, Flood says the focus each week is to be 1-0.
* Flood is asked about Jabril Peppers, a New Jersey native who did not play in last year's game. Flood notes that Peppers' role has increased throughout the season, and he can make an impact on returns, on defense, and lately, on offense.
* Flood says if Rutgers played Monday, Carroo wouldn't be able to play. They'll know more about his status for Saturday's game later in the week.
* A reporter asks if the team will practice with crowd noise, like they did last week to prepare for the crowd at Wisconsin. Flood admits dealing with crowd noise at Michigan will be a challenge, but is confident the team will have silent cadences ready to go if they need them.
* Flood hints that since Carroo has so much game experience, he would be able to play even if he doesn't practice this week. However, he needs to be medically cleared first or there is no conversation.
* When asked about what the team is doing to generate more of a pass rush, Flood says he noticed a couple times last week they got to the quarterback after he had thrown the ball, so he thinks they just need to be more precise.
* A reporter asks if injuries are holding DE Kemoko Turay back. Flood answers that he thinks Turay's limited practice has hurt him. While Carroo has plenty of experience to draw on, Turay does not have as much experience and needs more physical reps as opposed to mental ones.
* When asked if he has done anything to simplify the offense for his young quarterbacks, like Mike Leach has done in Washington State, Flood responds that it's not necessarily a matter of simplifying the offense, but doing what the players can process. He says the offense is not much different than it was last year.
* Flood is asked about Grant, who hasn't made as much of an impact lately since starting the season strong, and Turay, who has struggled this year after a big season last year, and what they can do to get them more involved this week. Flood points out Grant became Rutgers all-time kickoff return leader, and any touches on offense will have to come through the system, as they don't want to force the ball to any particular receiver. As for Turay, Flood says his focus is to get him to the point where he can play on all three downs.
* A reporter asks about Clayton, and where Flood sees him playing this year. Flood notes Clayton is already playing on special teams, and could see time at safety. He calls Clayton a hard worker who has a bright future with the program.
* This is just the second time Rutgers and Michigan will meet, despite both programs existing for over 135 years.
* Rutgers, of course, won last year's matchup at High Point Solutions Stadium. It was Rutgers' first ever Big Ten win.
* Saturday will be the third time Rutgers has played in the state of Michigan in the last calendar year. Last November, they played Michigan State in East Lansing. In December's Quick Lane Bowl, they beat North Carolina at Ford Field in Detroit.
* True freshman CB Jarius Adams was reportedly deciding between Rutgers and Michigan late in the recruiting process earlier this year. Despite verbally committing to Rutgers in July 2014, Michigan made a strong push for Adams in January. Ultimately, Adams stuck with the Scarlet Knights, and signed with Rutgers on National Signing Day.