3 Things to Watch for Against Rutgers

3 Things to Watch for Against Rutgers

Football

3 Things to Watch for Against Rutgers

Last week, Michigan obliterated Penn State 42-7 and moved up in the College Football Playoff rankings to the number four spot.

Rutgers gave Wisconsin a fight but would end up losing 31-17 and fell to 1-8 on the season.

Every week is huge and now with the Wolverines in the playoff, they control their own destiny. They don’t have to worry about anyone else if they keep winning games. If they lose, that is on them, but every week that opponent should be all they focus on and that week, it’s Rutgers. Here are the three things to watch for in that matchup.

1. Can Michigan one-up its 2016 counterparts?

In 2016, Michigan went into New Jersey to play Rutgers and they played a game of football alright, except Rutgers didn’t really show up. Michigan broke records and didn’t stop scoring, winning the game 78-0 in a game where it was over before kick-off.

This year could be worse for Rutgers too.

Michigan’s defense has been playing better and statistically, is allowing fewer yards per game than the same team was two years ago. The offense is younger so the wide receivers might be not as explosive as they were two years ago. The offensive line is better and with that means the running game could be better, and Michigan scored nine rushing touchdowns two years ago. Michigan has a better quarterback as well and might be able to make some plays happen to put Rutgers away quickly.

2. Will backups get a good amount of playing time?

If Michigan is dominating early-on, the backups should surely come in and get some playing time. The question is how much? The starters will probably play at least the first half, but once the second half starts, how much time do the backups get?

The second string folks could just finish out the game, or get a quarter to play before the third and fourth stringers come in to get some playing time and experience.

If Michigan has some issues with Rutgers and has to play their starters the entire time, that isn’t a good sign, but Rutgers has been playing better football the past few weeks where they linger around and make it more interesting than it should be.

3. Who is the backup quarterback?

With backup quarterback Dylan McCaffrey most likely out for the season with a broken collarbone, the backup job is now between Joe Milton and Brandon Peters. Head coach Jim Harbaugh hasn’t swayed either way when talking about who gets the job.

Brandon Peters has more experience than Milton and came in before Milton in Saturday’s game so that is a telling sign, but a week of practice with new implications could have changed that.

Michigan also might want to be careful with Milton and his playing time. With the new redshirt rules, players can play in four games and still get a redshirt. Milton has appeared in one game, so he has three games left. Let’s say Michigan wins out and joins the playoffs, and goes to the Big Ten championship game, that is two to three extra games this season. If Patterson were to go down, that leaves Peters and Milton up to it and Michigan would probably prefer to use Milton’s last three games in their last three possible games this season and still get his redshirt.

Playing against Rutgers would be good for Milton, but a waste of a game in something he doesn’t need to play in, and worst case Michigan might have to burn his redshirt, but we shouldn’t think about if that happens. Milton SHOULD play, but Harbaugh might want to keep his redshirt chances high and let Peters play out if Patterson and the starters are winning by a good amount.

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