Team 137’s Week Six Game Preview: Rutgers Offers First Road Test

After five straight home games to open the season, Michigan will go to its second home for their first road tilt. It’s no secret that the Wolverines have gotten some of their best talent from the state of New Jersey and they travel to take on Rutgers Saturday.

Rutgers welcomes the Wolverines, opening the week as 26 ½ point underdog after losing 58-0 to Ohio State last weekend.

Michigan Rushing Offense against Rutgers

Michigan will be counting on a new left tackle this week after losing Grant Newsome to a knee injury. Juwann Bushell-Beatty is expected take over full time and help open up holes for De’Veon Smith and the boys.

Michigan was able to muster 130 yards against Wisconsin’s stingy defense in their 14-7 victory, Smith leading the way with 66 yards on 17 carries. The usual suspects also received carries but fans were shocked when last weeks star, Karan Higdon didn’t touch the ball. Rumor has it that Higdon was a little banged up and should return soon, if not this week.

The Rutgers rush defense could use some help. Allowing over five yards a carry, they have been one of the worst defenses in the B1G. New head coach Chris Ash is working to right the ship but it may take a few seasons before they’ll be able to take down a power running team like Michigan.

Defensive back Kiy Hester and linebacker Deonte Roberts lead the team in tackles with 36 and 33 respectively.

  • Advantage: Michigan

Even with a revamped offensive line, the Wolverines should dominate the line of scrimmage and run circles around Rutgers.

Michigan Passing Offense against Rutgers

This will be Wilton Speight’s first road test of the season. He has been efficient, completing 63% of his passes and only turning the ball over twice on two risky throws. Not only will it be the first road test, it will also be the team’s first night game.

Speight will have seniors on the outside to rely on. Jehu Chesson, Amara Darboh and Jake Butt have a few years of experience when it comes to road and night games.

Rutgers allowed 238 yards and four touchdowns to JT Barett last week but did notch one interception, taking their season total to four. Rutgers has very athletic players in their defensive backfield and do a decent job pressuring the quarterback (11 sacks) but can’t seem to put it all together. Senior defensive back Anthony Cioffi leads the team with two interceptions. 5th year senior defensive lineman Julian Pinnix-Odrick has four sacks.   

  • Advantage: Michigan

Rutgers has allowed 11 touchdown passes so far this season and are facing some heady veteran receivers. Speight will need to be on his A game but should find his job to be a lot easier when the running game becomes the focal point of the Michigan attack.

Michigan Rushing Defense against Rutgers

One of the lone bright spots for Rutgers has to be running back Robert Martin. Martin has rushed for 398 yards and one touchdown while averaging 5.6 yards per carry. Watching him in the Iowa game, he showed a real burst of speed if given some space. Martin did have a 54-yard run against the Wolverines last year but finished with only 81 yards on the day. Most of the Scarlet Knights offense has been on the ground, averaging 192 yards per game and five touchdowns.

The Wolverines run defense has been stout, only surrendering 112 yards per game and two touchdowns. Bryan Mone has returned to the rotation and looks like he hasn’t lost a step. Ryan Glasgow and Maurice Hurst continue to form an impressive combo on the inside.

Michigan has a staggering 47 tackles for loss.

  • Advantage: Michigan

The Wolverines defense has buckled down the last few weeks and is clicking on all cylinders. This isn’t the time of the year the Scarlett Knights want to see Michigan, especially in the running game.

Michigan Passing Defense against Rutgers

The Scarlet Knights have been down right awful when it comes to throwing the football.  Quarterback Chris Laviano was 3-for-12 for 33 yards and 22.6 qb rating against OSU last week. For the season, Laviano is completing under 50% of his passes but has connected on five touchdown passes through five games.

Senior star wide receiver Janarion Grant is lost for the season- he leads the team with 20 catches for 210 yards. This should make Laviano’s day even tougher without his favorite target.

Michigan’s pass defense ranks 2nd nationally and is giving up just 135 yards a game. Expect to see some of the backups to receive reps, especially with Jeremy Clark being sidelined for the year. Lavert Hill, David Long and Brandon Watson should all see time at the cornerback position as they prepare to replace Clark on the depth chart.

  • Advantage: Michigan

Rutgers passing offense has been the worst part of their team and that’s no secret. Michigan is too good and puts too much pressure on the quarterback to allow Laviano or anyone else on their roster to come in and do any damage with the passing game.  

Prediction: Michigan 48 – Rutgers 3

Wolverines will cover the spread, no problem. Hurricane Matthew could play a factor but don’t expect it to change the outcome of the game.

Photo Credit: MGoBlog/Eric Upchurch

Emmitt Jenkins