After getting absolutely snuffed out last week against Ohio State 58-0, Rutgers takes another crack at an upper echelon conference opponent with No. 4 Michigan coming to town. Last season, the Scarlet Knights lost to both the Buckeyes and the Wolverines and finished 105th in the S&P+ rankings. This year, Rutgers sits squarely at No. 100 with the rankings after getting lambasted by the Buckeyes (No. 1 in S&P) with the (No. 3) Wolverines dead ahead. Since 2005, other Power 5 teams lost to top 10 S&P conference opponents while being outside the top 100, but no team has done it twice.
Michigan struggled with Wisconsin last week, missing three field goals with two different kickers in a 14-7 win, punctuated by Jourdan Lewis’ miraculous interception. Michigan especially struggled on third down against the Badgers, going only 3-of-15. A Rutgers team that is 84th in total defense isn’t expected to trouble the Wolverines much.
The last time Michigan made a trip to Rutgers, things didn’t go so swimmingly for the maize and blue. A 26-24 loss suffered by the boys from Ann Arbor sunk the Wolverines to 2-4 at that point in the 2014 season, and hastened the call for Brady Hoke to be sent to the chopping block. My, how things have changed.
How to watch, stream and listen
TV: 7 p.m. ET, ESPN2. The broadcasters are Jason Benetti, Kelly Stouffer, and Paul Carcaterra.
Online streaming: WatchESPN
Spread: You’ll never believe it, but Michigan’s favored. The boys in Vegas are giving Rutgers 28 points.
Make friends: Get to SB Nation's team blog chats for this game at Maize N Brew (for Wolverines fans) and On The Banks (for Scarlet Knights fans).
Three big things to know
- At a position lacking in depth, a big blow came for Michigan when offensive tackle Grant Newsome was ruled out for the season with a knee injury. The Wolverines will turn to Juwann Bushell-Beatty, a junior who has played in a few games during his Michigan career, but has never started. Bushell-Beatty is also one of nine Michigan players who were born in New Jersey. They'll certainly want to show out in front of family and friends.
- The kicking job is up for grabs in Ann Arbor after the poor performance against Wisconsin. According to ESPN, the Wolverines have as many as three kickers to pick from this week in practice. Michigan's kickers are 4-of-9 on the season, and the 44 percent success rate on field goals is tied for 120th in the country.
- Rutgers may not win, but its stadium will look really cool no matter what the result. Fancy black and red striping should make the stadium look sweet. Last time Michigan came to town, the stadium had a blackout theme, and efforts to replicate that atmosphere mean the school want the stadium lit Saturday night. Rutgers has won three conference games since the 2014 Michigan game, and the fanbase (with an interesting level of animosity toward the Wolverines) will be rabid in anticipation of what would be a massive upset.
This Saturday. #StripeTheBirthplace pic.twitter.com/PKI8zA4YqK— Rutgers Football (@RFootball) October 3, 2016