Opponent Watch: Week 9

This happened the last time Michigan and Rutgers played a competitive football game, in 2014, which was the first time in history Michigan and Rutgers played a competitive football game.

AP Photo

Gary. Freaking. Nova.

[various barely audible grumbles, breaths, and other bodily noises].

[heavy sigh]

[blank stare]

[time passing]

[still staring]

Rutgers (3-5, 1-4)
10/31: Lost to Wisconsin 48-10
This week: @ Michigan, 3:30 BTN

In their last 4 games against MSU, Indiana, Ohio State and Wisconsin, Rutgers has given up 31, 52, 49 and 48 points. As far as Big Ten defenses go, only Indiana has it worse in terms of total defense. What Rutgers does worse than anyone else in the league though is yards per play given up at a staggering 6.69...almost double what Michigan's top-ranked defense allows. In terms of threat level on Michigan's schedule, this Rutgers team comes in at the lowest.

Michigan is a 24-point favorite in this game which seems like a lot until you really look at Rutgers' weaknesses. On paper, Rutgers is basically Minnesota but not at home, at night, playing for a Jug, inspired by their former coach. Wisconsin gashed Rutgers for 5.5 yards per rush and 5 touchdowns on the ground. For a Michigan team looking to get it's running game rolling, this is a good game to do just that. With Rudock's status uncertain and a relatively unproven backup in Wilton Speight, any success on the ground will go a long way in giving the QB spot some time to regroup.

The ONLY way Rutgers is even competitive in this game is if everything goes right for them and everything goes wrong for Michigan...or if the NCAA grants Gary Freaking Nova another game of eligibility. Starting QB Chris Laviano was benched in the 4th quarter last week, but Kyle Flood insists he's still the starter. If this game goes pretty much as the last couple games has gone for Michigan's secondary...then Laviano will have the game of his career hitting receivers left and right for huge gains. I mean, it's only fitting that ALL Big Ten QB's always have their best game against Michigan.

Fear Factor: Down

Indiana (4-4, 0-4)
10/31: Bye
This week: vs Iowa, 3:30 ESPN

Wouldn't be surprised at all to see Indiana knock off Iowa this week. In terms of sheer threat ability, Indiana is right up there with anyone else in the league. Yes, their defense is terrible and yes they struggle to stop everyone...but when you average
467.6 yards per game, that's enough firepower to hang with anyone. I am not looking forward to going to that game next week.

Fear Factor: Unchanged

Penn State (7-2, 4-1)
10/31: Beat Illinois 39-0
This week: @ Northwestern, 12:00 ESPNU

Is Penn State good again?

Oddly, Penn State's offense has gone from dead last in the league in September, to being at least respectable middle-of-the-pack in October. Hackenberg's QB rating has steadily increased as the season has gone on, but it's clear that much of the Nittany Lion resurgence (if we're calling it that) is thanks solely to his arm as that's pretty much it. If he can stay healthy and the defense can keep helping him out, Penn State could finish the season very strong and really screw up the east division playoff picture for some teams (i.e. us and Michigan State).

Fear Factor: Up

#1/1 Ohio State (8-0, 4-0)
10/31: Bye
This week: vs Minnesota, 8:00 ABC

Just when the Buckeyes started to roll under new old QB JT Barrett, #16 goes out and gets caught drunk driving. Even worse, he's a minor. Even worse than that, he's a team captain. However, it's all good because his coach is Urban Meyer, so any real discipline won't be happening. JT will only miss the Minnesota game where, really, QB-turned-HBack Braxton Miller could function as QB and OSU would still win by 3 scores. Unless Mitch Leidner can channel his inner-Jerry Kill and pretend he's playing Michigan again, the Buckeyes roll this weekend.

Fear Factor: Up

Handy chart...

Michigan's Opponent Records

UTAH W W W W - W W L W - - - - 7-1
ORST W L W L - L L L L - - - - 2-6
UNLV L L L W W L L - L - - - - 2-6
BYU W W L L W W W W W - - - - 7-2
UMD W L W L L L - L L - - - - 2-6
NW W W W W W L L W - - - - - 6-2
MSU W W W W W W W W - - - - - 8-0
MINN L W W W L W L - L - - - - 4-4
RUT W L L W - L W L L - - - - 3-5
IND W W W W L L L L - - - - - 4-4
PSU L W W W W W L W W - - - - 7-2
OSU W W W W W W W W - - - - - 8-0
TOT 9-3 8-4 9-3 9-3 6-3 6-6 5-6 5-5 3-5 - - - - 60-38

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