Let’s just get right to the obvious — the Michigan Wolverines should win, and by a large margin, against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights this weekend. This game is in Piscataway, but Michigan is just the much, much better team.
With that being said, we have seen the Wolverines be on the field against weaker opponents on the road and be not quite as dominant — the games at Iowa and at Indiana are perfect examples of that. Returning to the road for the first time since then should show us how much this team has improved in that regard.
The Wolverines should have this one in hand, but these are the three players that can help keep things close in Piscataway this weekend.
QB Gavin Wimsatt
Take this for what it is, but Gavin Wimsatt is taking the reins as the starting quarterback at Rutgers. It’s concerning because there is little film on him, he is a mobile quarterback and he just beat out Noah Vedral and Evan Simon for the starting gig. Clearly, there is something with the redshirt freshman signal caller Greg Schaino likes to let him completely take over.
So far, the Wolverines have not faced a quarterback who can truly run the football. When Schiano started to call rushing plays for Vedral last season in the Big House, it gave the Wolverines issues defensively and kept the game close. He had 11 rushes for 46 yards in that game and kept drives alive because of the way they operated.
Wimsatt ran for a career-high 62 yards against Wagner in a 66-7 blowout win earlier this season. He has 185 total rushing yards through just four appearances this season, none of which were a full game. It’s a wrinkle I’m sure Schiano will be throwing at the Wolverines on Saturday, and we will see how successful they are at it.
He is a former four-star recruit who has already had packages built around him. Check out this read option in the narrow-win over Boston College in Week 1:
Gavin Wimsatt 48 yard run! #Rutgers pic.twitter.com/4rueaE2cor— @ (@FTBeard7) September 3, 2022
After the game, Boston College head coach Jeff Hafley called him “a baller” saying, “that kid is going to be a star.” If that’s the case, there is no better way to start showing it than against the No. 4 team in the country at home.
That being said, he has only completed 40% of his passes and just one touchdown to three interceptions. He’s also coming off an injury he sustained against Minnesota last week.
CB Christian Braswell
If Rutgers is going to stay in this one, it will need to force turnovers. The guy who has been most consistent at that this season is cornerback Christian Braswell. The senior who transferred from Temple has three interceptions, tying him for 14th in the country.
He’s the one who has stepped up in Rutgers’ tight ballgames with interceptions against Boston College (a 22-21 win), Nebraska (a 14-13 loss), and this fourth quarter pick-six in its lone Big Ten win over Indiana:
Christian Braswell called game ‼️ pic.twitter.com/U1vLxRpoqP— Rutgers Football (@RFootball) October 23, 2022
It seems like every time a game is close, Braswell is the one making a play that can alter a game. McCarthy has been efficient with the football but if he makes a mistake, expect Braswell to be the one who capitalizes.
S Avery Young
Their secondary has been really good at baiting quarterbacks this season. They are up to nine interceptions and are a top-25 team in passing yards allowed per game. Senior safety Avery Young is the a large part of their success. Young, a team captain, was named a All-Big Ten Honorable Mention in 2020 and is potentially on his way for another honor in 2022.
Young has a history of making some big hits against the Wolverines:
.@RFootball safety Avery Young (@Azy_02)— Pro Football Network (@PFN365) May 31, 2022
"He has good size and physicality but also flashes exceptional ball skills at the catch point."
Rutgers prospects ⤵️https://t.co/Df9p3aDvIjpic.twitter.com/m0qUlqQLEY
Young is a three-year starter, and in games like these when you are hunting for an upset, your veterans need to stand out. Young and this secondary are going to have to find ways to disrupt McCarthy, who has been one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the country.