Week 11 Preview: Michigan At Rutgers
When: 3:30 PM EST
Where: HighPoint.com Stadium; Piscataway, N.J.
Line: Michigan -39
So by now, you know that Michigan completely destroyed Penn State last week and if you read our preview for the same, you would have known this was a possibility. On paper, it looked very much like Michigan could very well have done what they did, ahead of time, as we discussed when looking at Phil Steele’s numbers. Welp, it happened. Michigan held PSU well below their normal offensive production both in yards and points as they almost pitched a shutout if not for a late, garbage time score.
The Wolverines need something to keep them motivated going into Piscataway this weekend, so perhaps that was it. That lone score that the defense allowed could serve as motivation to not allow Rutgers to score a single point. Don’t get me wrong, this team has plenty to be motivated by, you know with being ranked number 4 in the nation and a playoff berth on the line each week from here on out. But at times like after last week, it would seem to prove difficult to find much to improve on, when the team is performing like that.
The coaches, I’m sure, have plenty that they see to improve upon – for instance perhaps it’s the kicking game that needs some work, both on kickoffs and field goals. Maybe defensively, there still have been blown assignments here and there. By and large, however, it appears the team is firing on all cylinders and to find points of improvement is almost to nitpick.
Yet, here we are, getting ready for tomorrow’s showdown with Rutgers, the first of the final three games to close out the regular season. I will admit, it’s going to be tough to do this breakdown with a serious face. I’ll do my best, maybe.
Michigan vs Rutgers Statistical Analysis
First, we will look at some key statistics.
|Team||Record||Avg Point Diff||Off YPP||Off YPG||3rd Down %||Def YPP||Def YPG||Def 3rd Down %||T/O Diff.||PPG||PPG Allowed|
|Team||Rec.||2ndO Wins||S&P+||S&P+||Rk||Off. S&P+||Rk||Def. S&P+||Rk||ST S&P+||Rk||Last Week||Chg|
Sheesh, where do I start? Well in 2016 Michigan beat Rutgers at Rutgers, 78-0. I would not be surprised in the slightest, to see something similar in 2018. 78 is a lot of points, so maybe not that, but the shutout part seems very achievable. In fact, I’m likely to be more surprised by the lack of a shutout than I am to not have one. That being said, shutouts are hard, so 3-7 points wouldn’t break my heart.
Rutgers is pretty close to last, statistically, in most categories that people care about. Michigan, on the other hand, is in the top tier of many, especially defensively, and is improving offensively each week for the most part. That about sums it up but let’s look at Phil Steele’s numbers again from last week where he let us know that Michigan was holding teams to 217 fewer yards than their normal offensive averages. This number probably improved after last week even further, since Michigan held Penn State to 186 yards where they normally averaged 459.5, a difference of 273.5. If we average 217 and 273.5 we are around 245 yards that Michigan is shaving off of teams’ average offensive production in terms of yardage.
I’m no mathematician, but if Don Brown reduces Rutgers’ offense by 245, we are looking at around 31, call it 32 yards of total offense. This is roughly a third of what MSU was able to do, so maybe. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
In my most serious voice, to conclude, on paper, this is pure doomsday for Rutgers. If I were Chris Ash, I may ask Harbaugh if we can settle this off the field instead and play NCAA 14, instead, against one another, where maybe I’d have a chance.
Who are these guys?. . .
The Scarlett Knights, that’s who! On offense, they are led by Freshman QB Artur Sitkowski. This year he is the statistical inverse, basically, of Shea Patterson, with 4 TDs and 15 interceptions. That is not a typo. He has played a little better in his last few games but those are real numbers. Rutgers has three semi-capable running backs, the best of which is Raheem Blackshear. Blackshear has only eclipsed 100 yards once this year, against Kansas, and most games he either gets 30ish yards or 60 yards. Isaih Pacheco, one of the others in the RB trio, also has a 100-yard game (singular). Senior, Jonathan Hilliman doesn’t have one of those but he’s the third highest in production at the position. Blackshear is the leading receiver on the team, both in yards and targets as well as in touchdowns (2). Two other WRs have TDs, but one is actually a Tight End, and the other is Freshman WR Shameen Jones. Interestingly enough, Rutgers hasn’t allowed many sacks this year but that is likely to change after Saturday.
Defensively, Senior LB, Trevor Morris is the leader in tackles and also has one and a half sacks. The leader in sacks is the combination of DL Elorm Lumor and DL Mike Tverdov who each have 3. DB Damon Hayes and DB Saquan Hampton each have 2 interceptions and also are in the top 5 in total tackles for the team. As we saw from the statistics above, this unit is not an imposing one, but it’s better than their offense.
Rutgers wins if. . .
Michigan doesn’t show up for the game, both literally and figuratively, but probably more likely to happen if the literal version occurs. Otherwise, they need a complete and utter self-destruction on the Wolverines’ side, an act of God, weather (I’m talking lightning hitting people), or a combination of all of the above to win this game, while also playing lights out on their end. The Scarlett Knights have 1 win on the season, one. To make it two, something incredible has to happen or multiple incredible and unexpected things have to happen.
Michigan wins if. . .
They show up for the game. Period. Rutgers’ best chance to score may come in the second half against backups and even then, it may be tough to come by. Michigan should be able to move the ball at will on offense, both running and passing, where Higdon has well over 100 yards rushing by halftime. We should see a healthy dose of Christian Turner, Tru Wilson, etc. toting the ball in the 3rd and 4th quarter at the latest. We should also see Freshman QB Joe Milton or QB Brandon Peters enter the game in the second half, preferably early in the second half. If Michigan is to preserve Milton’s redshirt, perhaps you save him this week or next but with Dylan McCaffrey’s injury, it’s probably better to get him reps now, just in case. Please just keep everyone healthy and get through this game with a comfortable W.
Injury/Missing Player Report:
Out: P Brad Robbins, DB Benjamin St-Juste, DE Luiji Vilain, QB Dylan McCaffrey.
Out/Doubtful: DB Blessuan Austin
Questionable: TE Jerome Washington
Thoughts From The BluePrint Family
Michigan came off a very impressive victory last weekend at home against Penn State, in a much-needed, nerve-racking game. I’m very impressed with the way that Michigan has come out and smacked people in their mouth and hasn’t looked back. We control our own destiny in the rest of these three games, down the stretch.
This week, however, should be a very easy win for the Wolverines. The last time we traveled to Rutgers in 2016 we beat them 78-0 in a one-sided game. The way that Michigan’s defense has played this season, this should be another pounding in New Jersey. This defense is much faster and better than the 2016 defense.
I expect to see a lot of backups getting some experience on the field Saturday. We should be able to see all three QB’s in the game. Michigan wins B1G and gets ready for the last 4 quarters in the BIG HOUSE, for the 2018 season, before heading to OSU for ”THE GAME”
Rutgers at home against Michigan shouldn’t be a close game in the slightest. I expect Michigan to play their game for 60 minutes and starters to be able to rest for a few quarters at their leisure.
Some things to look out for:
Karan Higdon is looking to be the first 1000 yard back since 2011! (F. Toussaint)
I expect/hope to see who is the new backup in the wake of McCaffrey’s broken collarbone.
I think Michigan takes this one handily and moves on to the next one.
I have been going to Michigan games since I was 8 years old or so, and have been a season ticket holder for a while now and I have not heard The Big House that LOUD in as long as I can remember! What an atmosphere and what a whoopin’
I’d like to see Shea Patterson, play the first quarter or 21-0. Whichever comes first. I’d like to see Milton get some more game snaps before I give him a fair evaluation.
The key is to get out of this game healthy and ready for the remainder of the schedule.
Michigan 1st, 2nd and 3rd team will do well this Saturday!
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