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Michigan vs. Rutgers game preview: Please play a clean and decisive football game

The Wolverines can take a step to finding their fire against an opponent they’ve beaten like a drum under Jim Harbaugh.

NCAA Football: Michigan at Rutgers Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

We thought that a Week 3 bye was perfect timing for Michigan football to take a step back and prepare for Wisconsin. Obviously, that was not the case.

Now, it feels like a matchup with Rutgers feels perfectly placed, as it gives the team a chance to figure its problems out all week in preparation for arguably the worst football program the Wolverines will face all season long.

Michigan enters Saturday’s game in Ann Arbor as four-touchdown favorites despite not showing themselves capable of putting up the sort of offensive production it takes to blow teams out. It speaks to maybe a line of thinking that the Wolverines get back on track coupled with the fact that the Scarlet Knights are perennially just that bad.

Rutgers had a season-opening win against UMass, one of the worst teams in all of the FBS, where they went down 21-7 in the first quarter and then scored the last 41 points of the game to win 48-21. From there, they lost to Iowa by a score of 30-0 and 30-16 last week to Boston College.

Jim Harbaugh and his coaching staff were forced to take a long, hard look in the mirror after getting totally embarrassed and outclassed last weekend in Madison. Effort and preparedness have come into question and Harbaugh insisted this week that the team was hitting the reset button and evaluating everything from top to bottom as the margin of error quickly shrivels away on the 2019 season.

Confidence that the Wolverines can turn around their poor start to the 2019 season is low around these parts right now, but if there’s any chance to find something to build off of, it has to start on Saturday afternoon against the doormat of the Big Ten conference. In a lot of ways, you will learn more about this football team on Saturday than you did last week. This showdown is a showcase of Michigan’s resolve and to see how seriously they are taking the current state of affairs.

Josh Gattis’ offense has to find a way to find something it does well and build off of it. Maybe it is some of the chucks down the field from Shea Patterson to Michigan’s wideouts late in Madison last week. Whatever it is, they have not done a good enough job putting their players in position to make plays and the highly-touted offensive line has been anything but that.

Don Brown’s defense is not off the hook either and their discipline and attention to detail will be something watched closely.

Top to bottom, Harbaugh noted how embarrassing an effort last week was. If there’s any pride there, we will see a much-focused and improved showing this week, regardless of who the opponent is.

Michigan wins if: They’ll probably win just by strapping on the shoulder pads, but this team has played so poorly and had so much said about them that there’s a scenario in play where the wheels could totally fall off. Regardless of what you think about Harbaugh, he and his staff are too competent to let that happen against Rutgers of all teams. Whether it be by a field goal or by 50 points, it isn’t a stretch to say Michigan should win and win comfortably.

Rutgers wins if: Michigan totally self-destructs and then is also swallowed by a sinkhole, causing the Scarlet Knights to be the last team standing by default.

Prediction: Michigan 38, Rutgers 13

Game Info

Teams: Rutgers Scarlet Knights (1-2, (0-1 B1G) at No. 20 Michigan Wolverines (2-1)

Date: Sept. 28, 2019

Location: Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan

Time: 12 p.m. ET

Television: Big Ten Network

Radio: 950 AM in the Detroit/Ann Arbor area, see affiliate stations here

Spread: Michigan -27.5, over/under set at 49 points

Quick Hits

  • Kevin Kugler, Matt Millen and Lisa Byington will be on the television call for this game.
  • Michigan is 4-1 all-time against Rutgers and have won the last four matchups in the series, all under Jim Harbaugh.
  • The Wolverines have five players from the state of New Jersey in DT Michael Dwumfour, DB Brad Hawkins, DB Hunter Reynolds, OL Cesar Ruiz and OL Jon Runyan Jr.
  • This will be the first time in 10 games where the Wolverines have been listed outside of the top 10 of the polls.
  • Michigan has been ranked in national polls for 17-straight games and have played only eight games as an unranked team in the Harbaugh era.

Maize n Brew’s Rutgers Week Game Coverage