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Michigan-Rutgers recent history: Do not poke the bear

Every conference has its blemish.

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

In 2006, Rutgers finished 11-2 and reached a top-10 ranking in perhaps the peak of the Big East’s football status. Over the next 10 seasons, the Scarlet Knights finished above .500 eight times, and in part this helped their transition to the Big Ten in 2014. While no one expected Rutgers to consistently compete for conference titles, there was at least the shot of some competitive teams.

An 8-5 Rutgers beat Michigan in 2014, but this will probably be the high-water mark for a long time. The next three seasons saw eight wins in total, and the arrival of head coach Jim Harbaugh reasserted the Wolverines atop of their New Jersey foe. It has been nothing short of ugly since.

2015: Michigan 49, Rutgers 16 (Ann Arbor)

Rutgers stood no chance against No. 17 Michigan, as the Wolverines were up three possessions midway through the second quarter. Though the second half was quiet on the scoreboard, there was no doubt about the gap between the two teams. It was a little unnecessary to go for two up 41-16 in the third quarter, but Harbaugh had the team rolling at the right part of the season.

Jake Rudock had a fantastic outing, throwing for more than 300 yards and scores to Jehu Chesson and Amara Darboh. Jake Butt contributed 102 yards of his own on four receptions, and four different rushers (Jabrill Peppers, Drake Johnson, De’Veon Smith, and Rudock himself) all reached the end zone.

2016: Michigan 78, Rutgers 0 (Piscataway)

There are beatdowns, then there is whatever happened two years ago in New Jersey. No. 4 Michigan completely annihilated the home team, scoring 11 touchdowns — and a two-point conversion, of course — while conceding just 39 total yards. In contrast, seven different Wolverines topped this yardage on their own.

Everyone had a good game. Wilton Speight and John O’Korn both threw touchdown passes; Ty Isaac, Peppers, Khalid Hill and Karan Higdon each rushed for two scores; Chesson and Hill caught touchdown passes; even someone named Bobby Henderson found the end zone. There should not have been a need for a takeaway, but this game made it perfectly clear: do not piss off Jim Harbaugh.

2017: Michigan 35, Rutgers 14 (Ann Arbor)

Twenty-one-point victories do not often feel small, but compared to the year prior Rutgers got off the hook.

Michigan was clearly a notch down from the season below, but the difference between the Wolverines and the Scarlet Knights was still very apparent. A couple touchdowns late in the first half, along with a long-awaited change at quarterback, helped the Maize and Blue secure the win.

O’Korn struggled early on, throwing a pick and completing just half of his passes. After struggling during the prior weeks as well, it finally became time for Brandon Peters to take the reigns. Peters responded with a modest 10-for-14 effort, recording 124 yards, a touchdown, and no interceptions in a game where he was not asked to do too much. Both Higdon and Isaac passed 100 yards, as Michigan decided to take over on the ground, raking up four rushing touchdowns on the day.