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Matchup of the Week: Slowing down Rutgers wideout Bo Melton

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Another week, another threat at receiver

NCAA Football: Illinois at Rutgers Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Rutgers quarterback Noah Vedral is one of the least efficient signal callers in the country. ESPN’s QBR has him scored at 35.6, 112th out of 124 FBS quarterbacks ranked.

Fortunately, he has one of the most explosive receivers in the Big Ten, Bo Melton. On 20 receptions for Melton this season, the senior wideout has 334 yards and four touchdowns. Melton has led the Scarlet Knight in receiving yards in every game this season.

Similar to Ronnie Bell, Melton can line up in the slot or out wide on any given down. Melton clocked a 4.3 laser timed 40-yard dash as a senior in high school, earning him an offer from Michigan. He spited the Wolverines and chose his home-state school, Rutgers, and has never looked back.

Now, he is the leading receiver for the Scarlet Knights and is causing fits for opposing defenses. He averages 16.8 yards per receptions and has collected a team-high 14 first downs on his 20 catches.

Melton is the deep threat for Rutgers. Almost half of the senior wide receivers’ receptions have come on catches from 10 or more yards down the field. He also has average 6 YAC yards per reception, showing off some elusiveness with the football in his hands.

Watch one of his two receiving touchdowns from his 5 catch, 150 yard performance in the loss to Illinois last Saturday:

The Michigan Wolverines’ defense must limit the big plays from the Rutgers’ offense this weekend. They allowed 4 plays of 20-plus yards against Wisconsin a week ago and gave up 6 receptions of 20-plus yards against Indiana the week prior.

I expect Melton to be lined up mostly on the outside for Rutgers to take shots down the field with him, similar to what the Michigan State Spartans did several weeks ago against Michigan. That means the onus will fall upon the Michigan corners once again this week.

While Vincent Gray had the best game of his season last week against Wisconsin, the steadier Gemon Green had his worst. According to PFF, Gray allowed just one reception on five targets for seven yards and a pass break up. Meanwhile, Green allowed three receptions on six targets against the Badgers, all three were for first downs.

Of course, the Badgers only threw the ball a total of 22 times while tallying 51 carries on the ground in their blowout of the Wolverines. Still, a solid individual day for Gray must have been a sigh of relied for the junior who has had more pressure on him than any other Michigan defender.

The jury is still out on if either of these two can become legitimate starters for the Wolverines at the corner spot going forward. They both will likely see coverage on Melton this week and strong performances from both will be key to a Wolverines victory this weekend.