Michigan almost lost another heartbreaker last weekend, but came away from Minnesota with another win and ranked No. 17 in the first CFP rankings. Rutgers isn’t losing any heartbreakers these days with two straight big losses. The Wolverines are -24 point favorites (at 5 Dimes Sportsbook) playing at the Big House.
Michigan has the best ranking of any two-loss team in the country, which isn’t all that surprising. The Wolverines lost at Utah in their opener and then in the final seconds against Michigan State. They shouldn’t have trouble winning Games until their final two: on the road at Penn State and hosting Ohio State.
There haven’t been too many positives for Rutgers football this year outside of a comeback 55-52 win at Indiana. since that Game, the SCarlet Knights have lost back-to-back outings by 42 and 38 points. They could make that three straight with a big loss here.
Rutgers has one chance to compete in this Game and that’s if receiver Leonte Carroo can play. He missed last week’s Game due to a lower body injury and will likely end up being a Game-time decision. Carroo has played about half of Rutgers’ Games this year, yet he leads the team with 527 yards and nine touchdowns. Without him on the field, Chris LAviano becomes stagnant. against Wisconsin last week, LAviano went 4-of-14 for 31 yards and a pick.
That’s going to be a problem in this Game because Michigan has a stout defense. The SCarlet Knights are decent at running the ball with a committee of backs that all average more than five yards per carry, but the Wolverines have one of the best run defenses in the country. If Rutgers can’t move the ball on the ground, LAviano will have to do something. And if Carroo doesn’t show, this could be another shutout for Michigan.
Rutgers is a similar mess on the other side of the ball and they haven’t really stopped anyone defensively, unless holding Kansas to 14 points counts.
The Wolverines will take their run-heavy approach with De’Veon Smith, although he’s only averaged 4.3 yards per carry on the year. This isn’t an outstanding offense, but the defense and special teams often help plenty. The latest news for Michigan is that a quarterback controversy is brewing after Wilton Speight led the comeback against Minnesota last weekend. Jake Rudock hasn’t really done anything special with 6 TDs and 7 INTs on the year and it wouldn’t be surprising if Jim Harbaugh gave Speight a chance, especially in a favorable matchup like this.
Michigan’s defense has had trouble the last couple weeks, but facing Rutgers should help that. It would be surprising if the SCarlet Knights scored more than 10 points in this Game. Rutgers won this matchup 26-24 last year, but these are two much different teams.
Both have failed to cover in their last two Games. The under has hit six straight times for the Wolverines against teams with losing records, mainly because their defense has clamped down on weaker opponents. However, the over is 4-1 in Michigan’s last five Big Ten Games.
Our Pick – Not Our style to lay 25 points on a Game regardless of the teams playing. In this spot, Our model has Michigan winning by 30+ points so we’ll go ahaead and LEAN towards the Wolverines, but tread lightly. Michigan -24.5