Michigan has yet another night game and this time it’s in the Big Ten’s favorite TV hub as the Wolverines (1-3) take on Rutgers (1-3) in what should be a real barn burner on BTN Network.
Here are my four things to watch on Saturday night:
1. Battle of the Bad Teams
No way, right? No way Michigan can lose to Rutgers of all teams and move it to a 4-game losing streak. Right? Both Michigan and Rutgers haven’t won a game since week one and have been getting whooped on ever since.
Only difference, Rutgers actually beat Michigan State this year.
They also kept it closer with Indiana.
So, yeah, there’s a real chance that Michigan (who is somehow a 10.5 point favorite) could lose to Rutgers and slide to 1-4 on this stupid season.
2. Milton of McNamara?
Will Joe get the first crack or will Cade get to continue from last week? My money would be on Joe but I’m a horrible gambler and I fully expect both to play in this game.
Joe Milton‘s completion percentage has dropped in every game this season which included getting pulled after going 9/19 for 98 yards and 2 interceptions against Wisconsin.
Cade McNamara finished 4/7 for 74 yards and a pretty touchdown pass to Mike Sainristil against the Badgers. Though he showed his inexperience too, he showed enough to get the starting nod against Rutgers.
Like I said, I’d expect to see Milton get the start on Saturday night but if it’s McNamara, don’t be surprised. Either way, one of them or both of them need to find a way to win this game.
3. Youth Movement
After the third straight debacle, I won’t be surprised to see plenty of new faces all over the field early on in this game. That’s a very normal thing when Michigan plays Rutgers in a normal season. But this year is clearly different as there’s a real chance the Scarlet Knights get their 2nd win over the Wolverines since joining the Big Ten.
As mentioned, McNamara should get plenty of playing time whether he starts or comes in soon after Milton. That is whether Michigan is winning or not. The offense already features plenty of young guns already getting plenty of playing time with Roman Wilson, Cornelius Johnson, Blake Corum, AJ Henning, Zak Zinter and Karsen Barnhart leading the way.
It’s a different story for the defense. The current starters just haven’t been good enough so the staff could start adding in even more youngins. Makari Paige has been playing plenty. Gabe Newburg was one of the highest rated players last week and should get plenty of time on Saturday night. I’d also like to see Anthony Solomon, Nikhai Hill-Green, Mazi Smith, Kalel Mullings, and both Andre Seldon and Darion Green-Warren get some more chances.
This season is damn near lost. Best thing to do is use it as Spring Ball on steroids. Win the game, for one. But also work in the young guys you expect to build around going into 2021 and beyond.
4. Will the Fire Be There?
The team is said to be pissed. But they were pissed after the two losses before that and that clearly wasn’t enough to help them win. Was the Wisconsin beat down any different?
If this team comes out flat and uninspired, it’s just another bullet in Harbaugh and the coaching staff. You cannot allow a team like Rutgers, who’s struggled even more than Michigan but has less talent, get a signature win on the season. Going 1-4 with losses to one of the worst Michigan State teams in my lifetime and Rutgers with a new head coach would just be unforgivable.
Michigan has to win on Saturday to have any chance to stay around .500 on the season and save any face in the world of trash talking. Will they pull it off? Let us know your score prediction in the comment section below!
Photo Credit: Carlos Osorio/Associated Press