Rutgers has lost by an average score of 51-7 against Michigan over the past five meetings, including a 52-0 drubbing that saw former head coach Chris Ash fired the day after last season. There should be legitimate hope this season’s matchup will be far more competitive. Both teams are 1-3 and the Scarlet Knights played another Big Ten blue blood, Ohio State, much tougher after years of embarrassing losses.
Whether Rutgers can actually win on Saturday and beat Michigan for the first time since 2014 remains to be seen. Our contributors give their take on Saturday’s game between Big Ten East foes.
Dave White: The optimist in me wants to say Rutgers gets this game. You’d think Greg Schiano is going to find a way to get some sort of signature win this season (and signature is iffy with the way Michigan has played), so it’s possible Rutgers comes out and wins a close one. But if there’s one thing we know about Jim Harbaugh it’s—for as messy as he is—he can get his players fired up and go for the jugular. Rutgers wants this game. Michigan needs this game to save their coach. I’ll say Michigan 35 Rutgers 18
Cara Sanfilippo: I also want to echo Dave’s sentiment and say Rutgers will win. Especially because I don’t particularly like Jim Harbaugh and his signature khakis. However, we didn’t win last week against Illinois and we are starting a quarterback who is a little reckless in his ball security. I know we want to win this game, but I think Michigan needs to save some face and Harbaugh will have his team out for blood. Maybe this will be a repeat of the 2014 and we will come out fighting and put a nail in Harbaugh’s coffin. Sorry, that sounds more sinister than I mean it but Michigan means business. I just can’t predict a win after we basically handed a win to Illinois last week. Prove me wrong, Rutgers. Michigan 38, Rutgers 17
Fred Gaudios: As a fan, it would be so freakin’ cool if Rutgers beat Michigan this week. Michigan has been embarrassing Rutgers at football for the last several years, Harbaugh is a legendary heel, the Wolverines seem weaker than usual this year, and Rutgers has been quite fun to watch. For Rutgers to win this game, though, I feel like a few things would have to break right. First, wide receivers have to get open, and throws will have to be delivered into very precise windows. Second, Michigan will have to play sloppy (they’ve done this before recently). Third, Rutgers will need a break – a return touchdown, a pick-six, something of that nature. Could it happen? Absolutely, and I hope it does. Will it? Michigan 31, Rutgers 21.
Patrick Mella: On paper, Rutgers and Michigan match up very similarly. Both teams come in at 1-3. Points per game Michigan 26.3, Rutgers 26.5. Points allowed, passing yards and rushing yards allowed, are all very close. If Rutgers wants to pull the upset, they’re gonna have to cut down on turnovers and find some success in the run game. But this is a Michigan team that can be beaten. This is a down year for them and one that Rutgers needs to take advantage of. In the second half of the Ohio State game, Rutgers played with a confidence that we rarely see in Big Ten play. Frankly, they didn’t play scared. If they can bring that same mentality and play through all four quarters, I believe they can win this game. Don’t get me wrong, it was a bad loss last week to Illinois. But I fully expect Coach Schiano to have this team pumped up and ready to come out firing when the lights turn on. Rutgers pulls out a nail biter. Rutgers 31, Michigan 28
David Anderson: The Rutgers set of weaknesses against Illinois will be poked even more by the Wolverines. Could Rutgers win? Yes. Will they? I doubt it because Michigan surely is licking their chops after watching the film of Rutgers running out of gas against Illinois and will bring the same formula to have a get well game. The Scarlet Knights seem like a team that still believes strongly in their coaching staff but that will be tested this week against a team that might be playing hard for their own staff to stay employed. Expect Greg Schiano, Sean Gleeson, and company to bring back a few gadgets, even if those are wrinkles on the ones previously used. On defense, some do or die blitzes will be needed. I look forward to this game, but am not penciling in the Knights for a victory. Michigan 33, Rutgers 22.
Aaron Breitman: The odd thing about this game is that Michigan fans are giving me more confidence that Rutgers can actually win than I should probably have. However, Michigan’s struggles on offense give real hope that an upset can occur. I do think Schiano will have this team ready to play and they’ll be aggressive in all three phases from a play calling perspective. Whether Michigan can control the game on the ground will likely determine the outcome, as Rutgers struggled mightily against a running quarterback Isaiah Williams against Illinois. However, I actually think the Scarlet Knights will defend the run better this week after doing well against it in the first three games of the season. Special teams play has been particularly strong for Rutgers and I think that unit will be a factor in this game. In a year that anything can happen, I have a weird feeling that after Rutgers blew a winnable game in which they were favored to win, they come out playing inspired football and shock Michigan in a low scoring contest. Win the turnover battle, reduce penalties and trust the play calling. Rutgers 20 Michigan 17
Sound off in the comment section on your thoughts regarding our staff picks and your take on the game as well.