Michigan’s “Revenge Tour” finally takes a break this weekend when the Wolverines travel to Rutgers for what should be the easiest game of the Big Ten season. After avenging three straight losses with impressive wins over Wisconsin, Michigan State and Penn State, the Wolverines can probably take it easy this week and still roll to an easy victory.
Rutgers is just 1-8 this year, hasn’t won a Big Ten game yet and is on an eight-game losing streak after winning the season opener. It’s been just the opposite for Michigan, which lost its opener but has now won eight straight games. The game kicks off at 3:30 p.m. ET (TV: Big Ten Network)
Here are five things I want to see from Michigan this weekend at Rutgers:
1. Get off to a fast start …
The Wolverines are a huge 40-point favorite Saturday at Rutgers, which shouldn’t be all that surprising. The last time Michigan played in New Jersey, it beat Rutgers 78-0, scoring touchdowns on 11 of their 18 possessions. Rutgers is a mess, probably the worst team in the Power 5 conferences, so it would be great if Michigan scored early and often and built a big lead by halftime.
2. … And get those starters off the field quickly
If Michigan’s key pieces are still in the game midway through the third quarter, it’ll be a disappointment. With the Ohio State game just a few weeks away, there’s no need to risk any kind of injuries to Michigan’s most important players. Blow out Rutgers, and take a breather the rest of the way. That should be the game plan, getting out of there healthy and with the reserves getting plenty of playing time.
3. Continue to bring the heat defensively
Michigan still leads the country in total defense, and it’s probably going to be a very long day for Rutgers true freshman quarterback Artur Sitkowski. He 15 interceptions are the most in the FBS, and he’s completing just under 50 percent of his passes. Considering how this Michigan defense completely embarrassed three straight veteran quarterbacks during the “Revenge Tour,” this young freshman could be in trouble. Michigan’s defensive line is deep and nasty, and they can destroy Rutgers’ offensive line in any passing situation. It could be a very long day for the kid QB.
4. Keep adding a few new wrinkles on offense
Everything has been coming together nicely for Michigan’s offense this season. New quarterback Shea Patterson keeps getting more and more comfortable each week, and the offensive line’s improvement might be the story of the year with this team. Add that to all the weapons in the backfield and in the passing game, and this is a dangerous team. We’ve seen a few new wrinkles each week, so we’ll look to see more this Saturday, as well.
5. Happy homecoming for Rashan Gary
Rashan Gary, the New Jersey native who was Michigan’s No. 1 recruit three years ago, returned to the lineup last week against Penn State after missing three straight games with a shoulder injury. H’e looking forward to a happy homecoming “Being able to play in the Rutgers game, I’m happy,” Gary said. “I’ve worked hard to get back healthy, I’m back now and we’ve still got goals to accomplish as a team. And I’m glad to be part of that. We’re in a position where we can control what we want to control. Those are my brothers. We came here together, we started something and I need to finish it. I feel like that’s how everybody feels.”