Michigan has been dominant on the ground in all of its first three games and it should happen again this week against Rutgers. The Wolverines are favored by 20.5 points against the Scarlet Knights and should roll to 4-0 and 1-0 in the Big Ten. How they plan to get there isn't even a secret at this point. Michigan loves to run the ball and no one has been able to stop them so far. Rutgers is better than NIU, but will still have its hands full against U-M.
Richie Schnyderite is the publisher of The Knight Report making him an expert on what the Scarlet Knights are all about. He's been there for Greg Schiano's 3-0 start and, like everyone around Piscataway, recognizes the progress within the program. What that will look like against Michigan is a different story, and here's how he tells it.
This is a tough one as the defensive backs have looked really good so far this year, but I’ll lean towards the linebacker corps. The Scarlet Knights boast two pretty good ones in 2020 Butkus Award Semifinalist Olakunle Fatukasi and former four-star Tyshon Fogg to go along with one time Michigan player Drew Singleton. You also have to watch out for Mohamed Toure, who led the team in sacks (4.5) last year and has been back and forth between edge rusher and linebacker.
They’ve been up and down in terms of pass blocking so far this year, with their best game coming last week against Delaware. However, the run blocking has been pretty bad so far and they haven’t been able to create many lanes for guys like Isaih Pacheco, Aaron Young or even Kyle Monangai. On top of it all, the unit still has yet to be complete as the staff has rotated between three different offensive tackles (Raiqwon O’Neal, Brendan Bordner and Hollin Pierce) and has had a different combo of those three in each of the first three games this season.
Three Players To Know
WR Bo Melton, No. 18
Easily the Scarlet Knights' top receiver over the past few years, Melton is coming off his best year. In 2020 he finished with 638 receiving yards and six touchdowns in just nine games. The South Jersey native is on pace for another big year as he currently has 20 receptions for 227 yards throughout the first three games, so keep an eye out for him as he is arguably their top playmaker on offense.
DT Julius Turner, No. 50
The senior interior lineman might not be the biggest tackle in the game at 6-0, 275-pounds, but he has been lights out as of late. Turner came into the season with 3.5 career sacks, but is already close to doubling that with three already this season. Look for him in the trenches as he has proved to be pretty darn quick and plays with really good pad level.
LB Olakunle Fatukasi, No. 3
The senior linebacker is back for one last run after a huge 2020 season where finished as an All-Big Ten first-team selection and Butkus Award semifinalist. Like Melton, Fatukasi has also gotten off to a fast start in 2021. So far, he is currently first on the team in total tackles (31), second on the team in sacks (2.5) and he also has a forced fumble. Wolverine fans will likely remember him pretty well, as he finished the U-M/RU game last season with 16 total tackles and 2.5 sacks.
I don’t see the Scarlet Knights stopping this dominant run game that the Wolverines have put together early on in the season. On top of that, the Wolverines' defense is not too shabby either and will more than likely give the Rutgers offensive line some fits.