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Rutgers held in check, suffers first loss of season to No. 2 Michigan

The Scarlet Knights could not get the offense going in The Big House.

NCAA Football: Rutgers at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The odds were stacked up against Rutgers on Saturday afternoon.

The Scarlet Knights were big underdogs in Ann Arbor against the No. 2 team in the nation looking to turn in some positives on both sides of the ball.

After a touchdown on the opening drive of the game, Rutgers was kept off the scoreboard during a 31-7 loss to Michigan at The Big House in Ann Arbor.

Gavin Wimsatt hit Christian Dremel on the third play of the game for a 69-yard touchdown to put Rutgers up 7-0 just over a minute into the game. From that moment on, the Scarlet Knights logged just 188 yards of total offense.

Michigan’s methodical ground game did not break off the big play but wore down Rutgers to the one of 201 yards. The Wolverines were also 8-for-13 on third down. The Scarlet Knights were held to just 77 yards.

The second half has not been kind for Rutgers in this matchup over the previous two years. After being outscored 38-0 over the final two quarters last season, Rutgers allowed 17 unanswered points here. The defense kept the Scarlet Knights in the game as they trailed just 14-7 at the break. After holding Michigan to a field goal after a 14-play drive that lasted nearly eight minutes, Rutgers got the ball back with a chance.

The Scarlet Knights put together a nine-play drive where Wimsatt completed four passes to four different receivers. Rutgers faced a fourth-and-two at Michigan’s 27-yard line. Kirk Ciarrocca called a screen pass that Mike Sainristil took 71 yards the other way for a touchdown.

As good as the play calling has been all season long, a screen pass in that situation was head-scratching — to say the least. This put Michigan up 24-7 and essentially ended the game.

Dremel had three catches for 85 yards and a touchdown while JaQuae Jackson had three catches for 37 yards. Wimsatt finished 11-for-21 for 180 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

The Scarlet Knights will be back in action next Saturday hosting Wagner at SHI Stadium.

After next week, Rutgers will begin Big Ten play full-time. The Scarlet Knights were not expected to winches game and did some good things while also doing some bad things. What we do know is that there might be three more wins on the schedule for a team that is looking to get back to a bowl game.