The Michigan Wolverines have been embarrassed over the last two weeks, getting blown out by the Indiana Hoosiers, 38-21, and Wisconsin Badgers, 49-11. With a matchup against 1-3 Rutgers, the Michigan faithful are left to ask, “If not now, then when?” as it pertains to turning around the season.
It’s clear Michigan, also 1-3, isn’t one of the league’s elite teams this year, but a loss to Rutgers on Saturday would cap off a sad fall for one of the Big Ten’s signature programs.
Michigan opened as a 7.5-point favorite but the line has moved to 10.5 currently at sportsbooks. The total points sit at 55.
It took just two passes from Michigan quarterback Joe Milton for the Wolverines to be in a hole. Milton’s first two attempts were intercepted and would set up the Badgers with short fields. Wisconsin capitalized with 33-yard and 14-yard touchdown drives for a 14-0 lead.
Wisconsin would eventually build a 28-0 halftime lead, putting the game’s outcome out of doubt.
The numbers for Michigan were ugly. Offensively, the Wolverines finished with just 219 yards and only ran the ball for 47 yards on 19 attempts (2.5). Meanwhile, Wisconsin racked up 468 yards and dominated on the ground, recording 341 yards rushing on 51 carries (6.7).
The Scarlet Knights were noticed for their season-opening 38-27 win over the Michigan State Spartans as 10-point underdogs. It was Rutgers’ first Big Ten victory since 2017 and the team’s first win over Michigan State since 2004.
While some may have seen the win over the Spartans as a potential turnaround moment for Rutgers, the numbers since still show this is a program that’s rebuilding.
For starters, Rutgers’ 38 points were gifted in large part from seven Michigan State turnovers. And in four games, Rutgers’ offense has fallen off to become one of the worst in the country. The Scarlet Knights rank 108th out of 126 teams in average total offense per game with 328 yards.
Rutgers is also coming off a shaky offensive performance in the 23-20 loss to Illinois. The Illini sport one of the worst defenses in the country, ranked 100th in average yards allowed per game at 461 yards. But the Scarlet Knights struggled to consistently move the ball against Illinois, especially in the second half where they had a fortunate pass in triple coverage that accounted for a 66-yard touchdown. Otherwise, Illinois held Rutgers scoreless in the second half.
Defensively, Rutgers was gouged for 338 yards rushing on 59 carries (5.7). In Michigan’s lone win over Minnesota, 49-24, the Wolverines found success running the ball, finishing with 256 yards on 31 carries (8.3). It could be another strong day on the ground for a Michigan defense going up against a porous Rutgers unit.
Michigan State’s matchup with Maryland has been canceled due to positive COVID-19 tests within the Maryland football program. This marks the second straight week the Terrapins have had their game canceled because of an increase in positive COVID-19 tests.
Maryland coach Mike Locksley is one of the members of the program who tested positive. The school announced he is isolating at home.
"I am gutted for our team and for our fans," Locksley said in a media release from the school. "This team is eager to play and compete and continue the growth we've seen this season. This virus is testing our players and coaches right now, but I have no doubt that we will emerge as a stronger unit for having gone through this together. As for me personally, I am feeling strong, with only minor symptoms. I will continue to lead this program virtually and our game preparations for Indiana will begin immediately."
The Spartans were hoping to turn around their season following two consecutive blowouts. They fell 49-7 to Iowa in the third week of the Big Ten season before losing 24-0 to Indiana on Saturday.
Michigan State starting quarterback Rocky Lombardi threw two interceptions before being benched for Payton Thorne. The game was essentially over at halftime when Indiana led by the eventual final score, 24-0. At the break, Indiana ran 46 plays for 325 yards while the Spartans had just 82 yards on 25 plays.
At least this free bye week will give the Spartans time to regroup, because they certainly need it.