Week 6 Big Ten: Michigan at Rutgers Preview

    Michigan (2-3) at Rutgers (4-1) Oct. 4, 7:00, BTN Here’s The Deal: Anything interesting happen around the Michigan football program lately? With all the

    October 3, 2014

    Michigan (2-3) at Rutgers (4-1) Oct. 4, 7:00, BTN 

    Here’s The Deal: Anything interesting happen around the Michigan football program lately? With all the controversy and all the losses and all the hot seat talk, the best thing that can happen for Brady Hoke and the Wolverines is to get out of town and get working on the next game. Forgetting that it’s the first time Rutgers and Michigan have ever played, and dismissing that it’s a gigantic home game moment for the Scarlet Knights, this really might be the first game of the rest of Michigan’s life. 

    It’s not like Hoke is going to wave a magic wand and suddenly make the Michigan offense work after doing nothing against Utah and Minnesota, but yeah, if his team can win this week, and take care of an offensively-challenged Penn State team in Ann Arbor, then all of a sudden, with a nothing-to-lose attitude – since everyone will be predicting a wipeout – then comes the date at Michigan State with a chance to completely turn it all around. 

    But first, just getting a few touchdowns and a win over Rutgers would be a nice first step. 

    After beating Tulane without a problem, Rutgers is right on the doorstep of getting into the bowl discussion. Despite the heartbreaking loss to Penn State, at 4-1 there’s a chance to get to six wins with Indiana on the schedule. However, with road games at Ohio State, Nebraska, Michigan State and Maryland to face, and with a home game against Wisconsin, getting to the key six win total might be tough without a win this week. A sad as it might seem for one of college football’s greatest powerhouses, Michigan might be Rutgers’ easiest game the rest of the way. 

    Why Michigan Might Win: Any defensive problems seem to be stemming from the offense’s inability to do its job. No, it wasn’t the O’s fault that Minnesota ran well, but the run first/run only Gophers only averaged 4.4 yards per carry – that’s not that bad – and it wasn’t the reason the Wolverines lost. The defensive front is getting into the backfield and it’s disruptive enough to stop the Rutgers running game before it gets started. Sophomore Desmon People is a good back, but he’s not Paul James and he’s not going to run wild on the Michigan defensive front. Offensively, if Michigan was ever going to find a passing game, it would be this week against the porous Rutgers secondary, however … 

    Why Rutgers Might Win: Michigan doesn’t have a passing game. It doesn’t have a running game. Minnesota had no problems with the Wolverine ground attack, and it allowed a mere 88 yards through the air. The Appalachian State game was the aberration, throwing for 210 yards and three scores. The O hasn’t hit the 200-yard mark since, and in the three losses has thrown a grand total of zero touchdown passes with seven interceptions. However, Michigan’s biggest problem it turnover margin at -12 so far this year and losing the turnover battle in every game, including Appalachian State. The Wolverines were -2 or worse against everyone else, and -1 against ASU.

    Who To Watch Out For: Devin Gardner, get in there and save the program. The veteran Wolverine quarterback will take over for the injured Shane Morris and has to find a way to somehow kickstart an attack that’s not going anywhere. He’s not getting a whole bunch of help from the running game or the line, but he has to make better decisions, with three picks against Notre Dame and two against Utah. To find some sort of a groove, he has to start running more with just 91 yards and a touchdown in five games – last year he ran for 301 yards in the first four games with four scores. When he’s on, he’s brilliant and can carry the franchise, but when he’s not … he needs to be on. 

    What’s Going To Happen: It won’t be a masterpiece, but Michigan will take it. The offense will sputter and cough, but the defense will pick up the slack with a strong performance to give the struggling attack just enough good field position to survive. Brady Hoke gets a chance to breathe. 

    Prediction: Michigan 23 … Rutgers 16 
    Line: Rutgers -3 o/u: 47 
    Must Watch Factor: 5: Gone Girl – 1: Mulaney … 3 

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