The Michigan Wolverines are 4-1 against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights who were admitted into the Big Ten back in 2014. It is a series that has mostly been dominated by Michigan, including a 78-0 win back in 2016.
The Scarlet Knights had another tough season in 2018, going 1-11 and winless in conference play.
The good news for them is they have 14 returning starters on both sides of the ball. Here are three of those guys who could make an impact in the game against Michigan.
DB Damon Hayes
Hayes will be entering his senior season, and he has had a pretty solid career to this point. He has four interceptions in three seasons. He played safety last season but is moving back to his more natural position of cornerback this season.
Hayes had 60 tackles and a sack last season as a safety. He also defended five passes and intercepted two balls.
Whether he plays corner, safety or a combination of both, he will be tasked with slowing down Michigan’s pass offense.
RB Isaih Pacheco
Pacheco was an animal against Michigan in 2018. He ran the ball 16 times for 142 yards and the Scarlet Knights’ only touchdown of the game. The highlight of the game for Rutgers was his 80-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. This wasn’t against the backups late in the game, but right away against one of the top-ranked defenses in the country:
The game against Michigan was one of two times Pacheco would run for more than 100 yards in 2018.
RB Raheem Blackshear
Another running back has to be on the minds of the Michigan defense in 2019. Blackshear also showed flashes of being a starting-caliber running back last season. The junior will split carries with Pacheco. Just like Pacheco, Blackshear had two games where he ran for more than 100 yards in 2018: at Kansas and against Penn State.
With several question marks for the Wolverines in the linebacking corps and up front on the defensive line, they could struggle to stop the run. If they let their guard down and come in unprepared, these two Rutgers running backs could take advantage of that.
Blackshear and Pacheco have yet to be a completely effective one-two tandem, but they now will have had a full season to work together and have the offense molded around these two running backs.
Michigan squares up with Rutgers for the sixth time in program history on Sept. 28.