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What We Learned: Rutgers Week

Michigan's defense got back to their ways of greatness. Michigan's offense scored at will, and had their best game of the season. With the pressure mounting and the Big Ten title now in play, will Michigan keep this up? Or is this just an isolated win against a laughably bad Rutgers team?

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports


Not much, it was Rutgers. Every nice thing about Michigan's performance Saturday should be taken with a grain of salt, because this was easily their easiest matchup of the Big Ten season. Any time you get the worst team in the conference to visit without their best player (in this case, WR Leonte Carroo, the result should be a beatdown. And it was. And there wasn't much cause for concern.

The offense was very good, racking up a total of 49 points, with minimal second half effort.

The defense surrendered more yards than it was during the shutout streak, but that level certainly should not be a long-term expectation. That streak was special. One very good development is the play by both sides of the ball in the red zone. While the red zone performance was the difference in the win/loss column last week, it was the difference between a close game and a blowout this week.

A special teams touchdown surrendered on a kickoff may be a concern in the future, especially with OSU and Indiana's speed in the return game. However it was just one play, and it wasn't Janarion Grant's first special teams touchdown of the year.

Rudock at home and Rudock away is night and day. It's safe to say that despite playing only 6 games there, Jake Rudock has found a home in Ann Arbor. Here is the difference between his home games and road games:

Home 96-146(.658) 1181 pass yards, 8 total TDs, 2 INTs
Away 56-96(.583) 599 pass yards, 4 total TDs, 5 INTs

In addition to the statistical difference, it's easy to observe a general difference in the way he plays. At home, he is calm, collected, and able to make the correct decision. On the road, he's been sluggish, inaccurate, and locking in on receivers. The bad news is the next 2 games are on the road. The good news is the game after those 2 is at home, and is the most important game of the year.

Apparently inspired by Rich Rodriguez's years at Michigan, Indiana is giving up 41 points per game in Big Ten play. Jake Rudock should reverse his road woes this weekend, based on that statistic alone.

Angry Harbaugh should scare opponents silly. Michigan came back onto the field for the 3rd quarter with guns blazing, despite their 35-16 halftime lead. They pulled out all the stops, threw the ball well, and executed a perfect drive that ended with a 2 point conversion. Why go for 2? Well, Harbaugh was upset about something.

Harbaugh doesn't hesitate to take shots at his previous employer. I pointed out that Michigan appeared to put their foot on the brakes just in time to arrive at a total of 49 points, but that could be more of a coincidence. Still, it's fun to think about Harbaugh doing that on purpose.

What certainly was intentional was a postgame quote from Jim Harbaugh, regarding the controversial "intent to deceive" penalty.

That last line there. It clearly was a topical stretch to throw that in there. So why did Harbaugh do it? Well, Colin Kaepernick of the 49ers went viral for all the wrong reasons last weekend, by not seeing wide open receivers during the team's game against the Rams.

Occasionally Harbaugh must like to remind people who's got it better than the 49ers do now. (Hint: It's Michigan)


MSU is capable of misfortune after all. MSU lost on what some say is a bad call. However the Big Ten disagrees.

This play broke an unprecedented streak of luck, good fortune, unexpected mistakes by the other team at crucial times, and preferential referee treatment to Mark Dantonio's "disrespected" team.

The well-documented good news for Michigan is that this result breathes new life into their road to Indianapolis. With one more MSU loss (still has to travel to OSU on 11/21) and Michigan running the table, Michigan would play for the Big Ten title in Indianapolis on December 5! Still need 3 wins including 1 or 2 where Michigan will be an underdog for that to happen, plus some help in other games though.

Don't become law enforcement in Columbus, Ohio. Just don't. Unless you don't want to do your job. Or unless you like being vilified for doing your job. Check out these letters to the editor in the Columbus Dispatch this week:

Talk about misguided priorities! Blaming everything (and I do mean everything) possible besides the driver operating the vehicle while intoxicated. But what do you expect from guys that probably wear nut necklaces and poop in coolers.

Indiana is capable of giving good teams a tough fight. And that's about it. As mentioned earlier, they are giving up a whopping 41 points per game in Big Ten play. They've played a brutal Big Ten schedule though, including Iowa, OSU, and MSU. However, giving up 55 points to Rutgers cannot be justified under any circumstances.

Nobody has really shut down Indiana's spread offense besides Penn State (9 points). This will be an interesting game to watch for Michigan's defense. Indiana put up 27, 26, and 27 on OSU, MSU, and Iowa respectively, so this is a good chance to see how Michigan's defense performs against a common opponent of those teams, one with an explosive offense.