The Michigan Wolverines and Rutgers Scarlet Knights was not expected to be an interesting matchup. If you were setting a line before the season started, it probably would have been around 33 or thereabout. That sounds about right. The point spread as of Saturday morning is 13 points. Maybe Michigan wakes up and beats Rutgers by around 33 points, but this is really a bigger game than any Michigan fan could have imagined.
It might be more prudent for me to say it’s a bigger game than Jim Harbaugh could have imagined. If Michigan goes into Rutgers and loses, fans are going to be calling for firing louder on Saturday night. Even if they just eke out a win, it’s not going to be a good look for Harbaugh. Everything looked good for Michigan after they stomped Minnesota for a 49-24 win in the season opener. Then things went really sour really quickly. A loss against Michigan State was only the beginning of their ordeal.
Following a 27-24 loss against Michigan State, Michigan followed it up with a 38-21 loss against Indiana and 49-11 against Wisconsin last week. The Wisconsin loss was an all-time low for Michigan. They showed zero fight in the loss at the Big House. The only thing they managed to show was a lot of mistakes and no heart. Joe Milton was benched after throwing no touchdowns and 2 interceptions on 9 for 19 passing. Down 28-0 at the half, it was the biggest deficit Michigan has ever faced at home.
Embarrassing is one way to put it, but this season could get even more embarrassing if they fail to show up at Rutgers. Let’s give credit to the Scarlet Knights, though. While they haven’t been particularly good, they’ve shown steps forward under Greg Schiano. Schiano is back as head coach of the school that kick started his career into hyperdrive and made his name. He was the head coach from 2001 to 2011, and led Rutgers to a 11-2 season and Texas Bowl win against Kansas State in 2006. In only four games, Schinao has Rutgers heading in the right direction. Head below for our free Michigan vs. Rutgers pick for November 21, 2020.
Michigan Wolverines vs. Rutgers Scarlet Knights Big Ten Football Betting Odds:
Michigan vs. Rutgers Prediction:
The way Michigan responds on Saturday is going to say a lot about their character. Do they fold after suffering one of their worst beatings in school history, or go to Rutgers motivated to bounce back? Anything less than a quality performance, and people are going to want to pack Harbaugh’s bags before he returns to Ann Arbor. If players care to play for him still, then they are going to show up looking to blow Rutgers out of the water.
After the first week, it seemed like all was going to be good for Michigan. The public was singing the praises of Joe Milton and Michigan fans were thinking possible Heisman. Milton showed plenty of promise, as he was accurate with zip on the ball. He passed for 225 yards and a touchdown, along with 52 yards on the ground for a touchdown and 6.5 yards per carry. There have been several quarterbacks that Michigan fans fell in love with early in seasons only to watch their careers regress. Remember Tate Forcier and Devin Gardner? Both were Heisman hopefuls in September if you talked to a Michigan fan.
Fortunately, the Wolverines get Rutgers after that embarrassing performance last week. While Rutgers is on the upswing under Schiano, there are still plenty of holes to fill. Rutgers opened the season with a 38-27 win over Michigan State in an upset. They responded with three straight losses against Indiana, 37-21, Ohio State, 49-27, and most recently, Illinois, 23-30. The loss against Illinois might be the most disappointing.
Rutgers had a nice opportunity to win against a very beatable Illinois following their beatdown versus Ohio State but fell flat. Quarterback Noah Vedral was careful with the football, as he passed for 256 yards with 2 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. Vedral has passed for 5 touchdowns and 7 interceptions on 63.1% completions. Just too many careless mistakes for the Nebraska transfer.
The Scarlet Knights are next to last in the Big Ten with an average of 329.5 yards per game. If Schiano gets the defense back to where it was during his first tenure at Rutgers, then they won’t need an excellent offense to compete in games. They’ve looked better this season, but are far off from their full potential under Schiano. Expect Rutgers to bring a solid effort on Saturday night at home, but you have to believe the Wolverines have some pride. To avoid greater embarrassment, I think Michigan comes out focused and hungry for a win. I’m looking at a 35-17 win for the Wolverines.