The Big Ten is home to some of the most intriguing games of Week 4, and very few more so than what we’re about to discuss with our Michigan-Rutgers prediction. Michigan enters Week 4 undefeated, having looked impressive against three subpar teams. The Wolverines beat Western Michigan by 33, Northern Illinois by 53, and a bad Washington team by 21. Rutgers represents a step up in competition for an offense that is getting just 32% of its total yardage from the passing attack.
The Scarlet Knights are also 3-0, with a 47-point shellacking of Temple, a 10-point road win agaisnt Syracuse, and a 32-point win over Delaware (FCS). This begins a three-week stretch where we will learn everything about Rutgers, with No. 10 Ohio State and No. 20 Michigan State awaiting the Knights following their road showdown at The Big House.
Longtime college sports writer Rob Dauster, the co-founder of The Field of 68 and The Field of 12 Network is here to break down the tantalizing matchup and provide his Michigan-Rutgers prediction for Week 4 of the college football season.
#19 MICHIGAN WOLVERINES (3-0) vs. RUTGERS SCARLET KNIGHTS (3-0)
GAME: 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC
MONEYLINE: Michigan -1667 ML, Rutgers +750 ML
SPREAD: Michigan -20.5
TOTAL: 50 points
MICHIGAN STATE-NEBRASKA PUBLIC TRENDS:
Michigan ML: 85% handle, 90% bets
Michigan Spread: 58% handle, 60% bets
Over: 86% handle, 66% bets
Is Rutgers for real?
The Scarlet Knights enter Week 4 of the season with a perfect 3-0 record, having dispatched Syracuse, Delaware and Temple. Greg Schiano’s group looks as good as they have in a long time, and while they have not beaten the Wolverines during the Jim Harbaugh era, they did take them to overtime last season.
At the same time, we’re asking ourselves whether or not Michigan is for real this year.
The Wolverines have bludgeoned three opponents this season with the best rushing attack in college football. Their two-headed monster of Blake Corum (407 yards and seven touchdowns) and Hassan Haskins (281 yards and four touchdowns has been, in a word, unstoppable. They have 15 rushing touchdowns as a team through three games. There are teams that don’t get that for an entire season. They’re averaging 350 yards on the ground. ON THE GROUND!
Now, I’m somewhat torn here. On the one hand, I think that Rutgers’ fumble luck is going to regress to the mean at some point. They haven’t committed a single turnover this season. They have, however, forced six fumbles and recovered all six of them. Studies have shown that, once the ball hits the turf, it’s essentially a coin flip over who is going to fall on it. Rutgers isn’t going to get every loose ball this season.
That said, I do think they deserve more respect than laying 20.5 points in the Big House. To me, it’s as simple as this: Rutgers is 21st nationally in points scored, and yes, they’ve benefitted from short fields, but I do think that they will be able to move the ball against Michigan. Sometimes that will lead to points. Sometimes it will lead to long fields for the Wolverines. Combine that with the fact that Michigan’s running game is going to drain the clock, and there is a reason this total has moved from 51.5 to 49.5.
So I’ll take the points here. Right now, the implied score is Michigan 35, Rutgers 14.5. I do think the Scarlett Knights will keep it within three tuddies.