Michigan football: 5 bold predictions for Wolverines vs. Rutgers
With exception to the past 2 meetings, Michigan vs. Rutgers is usually a lopsided, ugly, over-quickly kind of Saturday.
The Wolverines and Scarlet Knights have tangled 8 times, with the Wolverines posting a 7-1 record. UM barely won in 2021, eking out a 20-13 victory, and had major trouble in 2020, needing OT to come away with the 48-42 win (Cade McNamara’s storming debut).
But let’s not forget 78-0 in favor of UM in 2016, or 52-0 back in 2018 — this year’s matchup could end up looking like those, rather than being close like the past pair of series games.
On average, Michigan scores 43.5 points compared to Rutgers’ 14.8 points. This year, the Wolverines are blowing out teams, ranking 3rd nationally in victory margin (29.5 points).
Given their offensive talent and stifling defense, predicting the Wolverines to roll past the Scarlet Knights — with ease — makes perfect sense. Let’s take a look at some bold — well, we’ll call them borderline ‘bold’ — predictions for the No. 4 Wolverines (8-0), who are on the hunt for their second straight Big Ten title under coach Jim Harbaugh.
Career-low in passing for JJ
This won’t be due to performance; it’ll be due to the game plan. Michigan runs all over Rutgers, so why risk it in the air?
With exception to Week 1’s 30 yards (he didn’t start), McCarthy’s season-low came against Penn State, just 145 yards through the air. With Michigan’s running game looking like it’s about to peak, it’s easy to predict lower passing totals for McCarthy.
If all goes as planned on the ground, McCarthy will be lucky to have 15-18 passing attempts. He’ll be the game manager while Blake Corum feasts.
McCarthy could easily end up with just 120-130 yards Saturday night at Rutgers while still maintaining his perfect record as a starter (7-0 so far).
Blake goes off
A top-5 Heisman candidate, Corum has burned up the field every Saturday through 8 games, and things won’t change when he faces Rutgers. Despite allowing just 3.3 yards per carry and 108 per game, the Scarlet Knights simply aren’t equipped to bottle Corum, who is coming off a historical performance vs. Michigan State.
Blake Corum's 177 rushing yards tonight were the most by a Michigan player against Michigan State since Mike Hart had 218 in 2005. pic.twitter.com/eLQu0bJeVP
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 30, 2022
Back in late September, Corum crushed Maryland with a career-high 243 yards. With 14 rushing TDs, Corum leads the Big Ten and is 2nd in the nation behind Israel Abanikanda of Pitt, who has 16 rushing scores.
Predicting Corum to have a career day against a team that is traditionally embarrassed by Michigan isn’t hard to do at all. Let’s call it 250 yards and 4 TDs for Corum, who has the ability to score each time he touches the ball, which is about 22 times per game.
Andrel gets some?
Last year, Andrel Anthony had a coming-out party vs. Michigan State, prompting many to think that he was destined for a more significant role within the Wolverines’ offense. However, this year, Anthony, a sophomore, has been relatively quiet behind a slew of other talented receivers.
This week, Harbaugh said Anthony will get more targets. Watch for him to be one of Michigan’s top 2 receivers Saturday. He could easily end up with 5 catches for 80+ yards and a touchdown. Five catches might not seem like a lot, but consider this: He’s had 6 all year.
Five grabs is an average day for a top-end receiver. But in the case of Anthony, 5 catches could easily kickstart more production, making him one of Michigan’s most valuable targets down the stretch.
Mike Morris has been on the rise for 2 years, evolving into one of the best pass-rushers in the Big Ten. Morris leads the Wolverines in sacks and places among the top 40 in the nation with 5.5. He’s been a dominant force through 8 games for unbeaten Michigan.
On average, Rutgers has given up a pair of sacks per game this season. Watch Morris, who had 2 sacks vs. Iowa, get a career-high with 3 Saturday.
Run it up
This year, Michigan opened the season with a trio of 50-point games, the first such streak of the modern era for UM. Averaging 41 PPG, the Wolverines have the No. 8-ranked scoring offense in the nation and have the No. 2 and No. 3 individual scorers: RB Blake Corum (90 points) and K Jake Moody (89).
To say that Michigan will rack up points Saturday would be like saying the sun will rise tomorrow — it’s going to happen. Look for Michigan to put up a season-high, eclipsing the 62 it produced in Week 2 vs. Hawaii.
SCORE PREDICTION: Michigan 63, Rutgers 10