Michigan and Rutgers played in a triple-overtime game a season ago — a game Rutgers had a comfortable 17-0 lead in before Michigan came storming back to win 48-42. That was one of just two Michigan wins last season (2-4).
“I don’t feel like 2020 was real. I don’t think you got a real picture of every team. I think you got a distorted picture,” Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano said on Monday.
Schiano and 3-0 Rutgers realize that they have their work cut out for them against an increasingly physical Michigan team that is ranked No. 19 after a 3-0 start.
“We’re going out to play against a really, really good football team that has got it going. There is a good vibe out there right now. They’re playing good football. They’re playing winning football,” Schiano said. “They’re holding onto the ball, playing good defense and running the ball. When you do that, you have a chance to win every week.”
Schiano is aware of Michigan’s biggest strength offensively to this point in the season — their running game, which currently leads the nation in rushing average.
Blake Corum is powering the unit, ranking first nationally in all-purpose yards per game (193.7), No. 3 in rushing yards per game (135.7), and tied for first with 8 total touchdowns. Hassan Haskins has had an excellent start to the year with 281 yards, true freshman Donovan Edwards has 117, and A.J. Henning has 100. Michigan has found a way to get a variety of playmakers the ball.
“They’re really good running backs,” Schiano said. “And it’s not just Blake, it’s a really good running back room. You can see it.”
Schiano also credits Michigan running backs coach Mike Hart for the success of his players. Schiano said he has followed Hart from all the way back from when he was a player, to when he started as a coach, up until his latest stop at Michigan. Schiano had thought about trying to hire Hart in the past.
“I’ve tracked his career and at different times thought about reaching out to see if we can bring him here. I think he’s an excellent coach. That room is doing a great job. Certainly talented players but I think it’s more than that,” Schiano said.
Schiano knows Michigan looks a whole lot different this season, and sees the same with Rutgers. He’s anxious to play Michigan, to see where Rutgers stacks up in the Big Ten.
“They’re a different team if you just look at it,” Schiano said. “They didn’t have their best player (defensive end Kwity Paye, a first-round draft pick by the Indianapolis Colts) when we played them last year. There are a lot of differences. That game was a shame. We had our opportunity there and we didn’t take advantage of it,” Schiano said. “This is a different Michigan team, and I’d like to think we’re a different Rutgers team too.”
Michigan plays Rutgers at Michigan Stadium at 3:30 ET on ABC.