Through three weeks, Michigan has been dominant on the ground and somewhat untested as a passing team. Last week against NIU, Michigan didn't throw it much, but Cade McNamara hit a couple of big plays including a monstrous 87-yarder to Cornelius Johnson. I don't expect the approach to change this week as U-M faces a less talented and porous rush defense in Rutgers. The Wolverines are favored by a whopping 20.5 points, which is a lot against a Big Ten opponent, but that honestly doesn't feel like enough. If Michigan could run, run and run some more for three weeks straight, it should be able to against Rutgers as well.
The three weeks of knowledge makes it a little easier to predict how the game will play out this week, so here are my best shots at forecasting some specific happenings...
Blake Corum will score multiple touchdowns...again
At this point, this one feels like a gimme. How can a team keep Blake Corum of the end zone? Seriously? Michigan's standout sophomore is leading the nation in total touchdowns with eight and I see him adding at least two more to that total tomorrow. It's clear that Michigan wants to run the ball, which will keep Corum on the field a lot, but he also has a receiving touchdown on the year. He can really do it all and I don't think Rutgers will be ready for his explosiveness.
Aidan Hutchinson will record at least two sacks
Rutgers' offensive tackles have struggled, which should allow a movable freak like Aidan Hutchinson to feast. That formula spells bad news for quarterback Noah Vedral. I think Hutchinson will be in the backfield all day long and I think Vedral will be very sick of seeing that maize 97 before the day is done. Hutchinson is tied for the national lead in sacks with 4.5 and I think he adds two more to that total against the struggling Scarlet Knights O-line.
Cade McNamara will throw for more than 200 yards
It hasn't happened yet this season, but I think tomorrow is the day. Greg Schiano is a tough-nosed, hardcore, proud Jersey native. He's also a good coach and knows that slowing Michigan's run game down has to be priority one, two and three. I think he's going to sell out to stop the run, which should open up the passing game. Throw in the fact that Rutgers' top cover corner Max Melton is out for tomorrow's game and I think you'll see Michigan's receivers get loose a little bit. Last week Josh Gattis dialed up shot plays at the perfect time and McNamara hit a huge one to Cornelius Johnson from 87 yards out. I think there will be a couple of big connections tomorrow that will allow McNamara to eclipse 200 yards for the first time in 2021.
Michigan will score a special teams or defensive touchdown
I'm obviously going out on a limb here, but Michigan has been close a few times. Blake Corum had an 80-yard kickoff return during week one, Ronnie Bell and AJ Henning both have been about one broken tackle away from taking a punt back and last week Gemon Green picked off a pass and got pushed out inside the five. It just feels like it's close to happening, so why not against Rutgers?
Michigan will cover the 20.5-point spread
I think Michigan is going to roll again. I see the running game working despite Rutgers trying its damndest to slow it down. I also think Michigan will hit some big pass plays while the Scarlet Knights load the box. Michigan has absolutely crushed all three spread this year and I think tomorrow makes it four in a row. At the end of the day, Michigan is still a lot more talented than Rutgers and I think over the course of four quarters, it'll play out that way.