Michigan has moved up to the number four spot in the latest College Football Playoff rankings and with a victory over Penn State last week, the attention now turns to Rutgers, the worst team in the Big Ten conference. Here are my five players to watch for in Saturday’s game.
1. QB Shea Patterson – Michigan
Quarterback Shea Patterson had a good game against Penn State last week and now, against Rutgers, he could have his best game of the season. Rutgers has the 83rd ranked defense in the country, the second worst defense they have played this season, the first was against Nebraska.
The only reason why Patterson could have a better game than he did against Nebraska is that Rutgers doesn’t have as many skilled defensive players and a head coach who doesn’t have much head coaching experience in Chris Ash. Patterson could be done by halftime, but still, throw for almost 300 yards.
2. QB Artur Sitkowski – Rutgers
A complete 180 at the same position is the starting quarterback for Rutgers is Artur Sitkowski and his season hasn’t been very kind to him. Going 123/247 for 1100 yards, throwing four touchdowns and 15 interceptions this season.
How he plays will determine how many points Michigan can put up overall. If the defense is able to get interceptions and return them deep into Rutgers territory or return it for a touchdown, points could be very easy for the Wolverines defense. Sitkowski is going to have a tough task to go up against the number one defense in Michigan and it could be a long day in the end for him.
3. WR Tarik Black – Michigan
Wide receiver Tarik Black played some more last week against Penn State, but still didn’t see much of anything overall. He had one play where he caught a touchdown pass from Patterson, but it was overturned due to a holding penalty and that was all Black did.
The other times he was out there, he was running a route and Patterson never looked his way, or he would run block, he still wasn’t getting used enough. Black could see this game as an explosive return, or head coach Jim Harbaugh could see this game as a light game for Black and use him sparsely and keep him fresh for next week.
4. LB Trevor Morris – Rutgers
While the Rutgers defense doesn’t seem too impressive, one player that stands out is linebacker Trevor Morris. Morris has done well this season, getting 77 total tackles, four pass deflections, three and a half tackles for loss, one and a half sacks, one forced fumble and fumble recovery.
His presence on the field could limit tight end Zach Gentry’s performance and help stop running back Karan Higdon. Morris can make some key tackles and be involved with many plays, possibly causing havoc to the Michigan offense if he can force a fumble.
5. CB Ambry Thomas – Michigan
Michigan could be up by a lot at a certain point in the game and the backups will have to come out on both sides of the ball. That is when cornerback Ambry Thomas can come out and play, get more experience and learn as a player.
Cornerback Brandon Watson is graduating after this season, and Lavert Hill and David Long have the possibility to enter the NFL draft after this season if they please, and in case they do, Thomas will have to possibly start next season. This is a game where he can get experience and grow as a cornerback as his role could expand in 2019.