A pair of unbeaten Big Ten teams will square off on Saturday afternoon at the Big House when No. 19 Michigan hosts Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights have picked up three wins to open the year, but they are big underdogs in this game. Michigan has blown out all three of its opponents, including a 63-10 win over Northern Illinois last week.
Rutgers hoping to spring upsetRutgers is off to a nice start this season, but the competition level is about to ramp up. The Scarlet Knights opened the year with a 61-14 blowout against Temple. They played their closest game in Week 2, notching a 17-7 win at Syracuse. The teams played to a scoreless draw at the end of the first half—Rutgers took advantage of a costly personal foul penalty and fumble from Syracuse down the stretch. The Scarlet Knights picked up another blowout win last week, dominating Delaware in a 45-13 decision. They are now 3-0 for the first time since 2012.
Game Week 4️⃣ pic.twitter.com/aRzwmWujPM— Rutgers Football (@RFootball) September 22, 2021
Their offense piled up 497 yards and avoided a turnover for the third straight game. Aron Cruickshank had a 62-yard punt return for a touchdown as well. Senior quarterback Noah Vedral has completed 71.6% of his passes for 606 yards and four touchdowns. He was sacked four times by Syracuse, but he has not been sacked in the other two games. Junior running back Isaih Pacheco has rushed 45 times for 152 yards and three touchdowns. He averaged less than three yards per carry in the first two games, but he averaged 5.6 yards per touch last week. Wide receiver Bo Melton has caught 20 passes for 227 yards and two touchdowns.
Wolverines paced by strong rushing attackNo. 19 Michigan has obviously had its struggles in conference play over the last few seasons, but it is hoping to change that narrative in 2021. The Wolverines have looked outstanding in non-conference play, blowing out Western Michigan, Washington and Northern Illinois. They were particularly dominant against Northern Illinois, scoring touchdowns on their first nine possessions. Their offense has already gone over the 1,000-yard rushing mark this season. Running back Blake Corum is averaging 8.5 yards per carry, while Hassan Haskins is tallying 5.7 yards per carry. They have combined to score 11 touchdowns.
Quarterback Cade McNamara had an excellent game against Rutgers last year, throwing for 260 yards and four touchdowns. He rushed for another touchdown in a thrilling triple-overtime win. McNamara has not had to throw the ball very much this year due to the success of the rushing attack. He is completing 64.9% of his attempts and has posted three touchdowns. Like Vedral, McNamara has yet to throw an interception. He is going to face a Rutgers defense that is without two of its starting cornerbacks. The Scarlet Knights have forced eight turnovers and tallied 14 sacks this season, though.
- 5-0 ATS in its last five games as a road underdog
- 6-0 ATS in its last six road games
- 6-1 ATS in its last seven games vs. a team with a winning record
- 8-21 ATS in its last 29 games after allowing more than 280 yards passing in its previous game
- 0-5 ATS in its last five Big Ten games
- 0-4 ATS in its last four games vs. a team with a winning record
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
This line seems very inflated based on Michigan’s start to the season. The win over Washington certainly does not look very impressive based on the Huskies’ other games. Outside of that win, there is nothing that makes me believe this spread should be tickling three touchdowns. Rutgers took a 17-point lead against Michigan last season before eventually losing in triple overtime. The Scarlet Knights take care of the ball and they control the tempo, which is exactly what you want with a big underdog. I expect a heavy dose of the running game from Greg Schiano’s team.
Full-Game Total Pick
Michigan has been putting up a ton of points through the first three weeks of the season, which has led to a large total on Saturday afternoon. This is going to be the best defense that the Wolverines have faced this year. Rutgers can apply pressure on opposing quarterbacks and has been solid against the run. The Scarlet Knights want to control the tempo of this game and keep Michigan’s offense off the field. They have gone under the total in four of their last five games. Schiano’s squad has also gone under in seven of its last nine games following a win. The clock should be ticking for most of this game.