We're There (Michigan 52, Rutgers 17)

It's time for Michigan to be one of those teams.

Photo: David Wilcomes / MGoBlog

It feels odd to get clarity after a Rutgers game. You typically think "Rutgers" and your mind immediately goes back to 2016's 78-0 throttling of a lowly Big Ten doormat. That performance, despite being 7 years ago, has become the standard. And while 2022's Rutgers isn't exactly a title contender, with Greg Schiano back at the helm, they are light years from where they were previously.

For the first 30 minutes on Saturday night in Piscataway, it wasn't easy. In fact it was a frustrating grind. Maybe the all of the drama from the Michigan State game was still a distraction? Maybe there was a bit of overconfidence on Michigan's part? Maybe a few guys were sick...Blake Corum didn't look particularly healthy early on? Or...maybe Rutgers, at least on defense, is actually a pretty decent team – they were ranked 12th nationally in total defense coming into this game.

Maybe a combination of all of those?

What really fueled Rutgers early on was a huge punt block and return for a touchdown from Timmy Ward to make it 7-7. That really energized the Knights and their home crowd. Michigan had a couple redzone trips in the first half that ultimately resulted in touchdowns...which was refreshing, but it wasn't easy. Endless runs up the middle might work against Rutgers (sorta) but that's not gonna cut it against better teams. Clearly Harbaugh is holding something back for these types of situations to come. I like that Michigan was able to find the endzone, but some more imaginative play calling will be needed going forward.

Rutgers didn't go away adding 10 points in the second quarter while holding Michigan scoreless on a couple missed Jake Moody 50-yard FG attempts.

Whatever it was that Michigan was or was not doing, we could all feel the frustration.

And then a thing happened. 

The third quarter.

Michigan, for reasons, owns the third quarter. Right now the Wolverines are outscoring opponents 84-6 in the third quarter alone.

The third quarter on Saturday night was an onslaught. Michigan scored three touchdowns in 1:42 of game time fueled by two Michael Barrett interceptions, one returned for a touchdown. The bulk of Rutgers drives happened in the third quarter – 3 resulted in interceptions and 3 in punts. After a 28-0 third quarter to make it 42-17...that was it. 

After halftime, Michigan held Rutgers to no points, 57 total yards and one first down.

Offensively Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards both ran for 109 yards. Despite only going 13 of 27, 151 yards and 2 touchdowns, I thought JJ McCarthy had one of his best games at QB. Almost all of his passes, many of which were well downfield, were spot on and dropped by receivers. His top target on the night was Donovan Edwards with only 3 catches for 52 yards and one touchdown.

It wasn't sexy, but you could see the potential for the passing game to come alive at some point. I think JJ is already there, he just needs his targets to shake off some of the rust that's been accumulating from being on an offense that earns its living on running the ball.


After a first half of football that can sometimes happen when playing overmatched opponents, Michigan turned on the jets and put Rutgers away in dramatic fashion. For the second 30 minutes on Saturday night, Michigan finally was able to locate the switch and do what I think we all knew they could...be one of those teams.

Michigan is now one of those teams.

In a day that saw #1 Tennessee get blown out by Georgia, #4 Clemson get blown out by Notre Dame, #2 Ohio State look downright pedestrian and struggle to get passed 1-7 Northwestern and #6 Alabama lose it's 2nd game of the season...Michigan asserted themselves, albeit quietly, as one of the best teams in the country by doing what great teams are supposed to do.

Michigan is the only team in the country to not trail in the 4th quarter this season.

Barring a catastrophe, Michigan is going to cruise by Nebraska and Illinois in these next two games to set up the showdown of all showdowns against 11-0 Ohio State in Columbus to end the regular season. 

Personally, I don't need to see anything more to prove to me that Michigan can definitely go down to Columbus and beat the Buckeyes. They certainly have all of the tools and firepower to do that. Ohio State will be favored because that's just the way it is. But I'm just saying here and now...Michigan is a championship caliber football program with all of the pieces and parts needed to not only beat Ohio State, but win the Big Ten and make it to the CFB title game. 

Anyone who knows me or has read this site for any length of time knows this isn't hyperbole. Michigan is good. They're damn good.

We're there. All that's left is to go out and prove it.

It's Michigan's time to be one of those teams.

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