Football Michigan Monday The Rivalry

Michigan Monday: Everybody Hates Rutgers

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I foolishly thought I had seen everything when it came to B1G football, but Saturday was a new low.

Rutgers (2-4, 0-3) had nearly 200 recruits on hand to witness the unrelenting devastation of a 78-0 loss to Michigan (6-0, 3-0). The Rutgers sideline looked like the aftermath of the Mount St. Helens eruption. Recruiting hosts and staff were laid one on top of the other like pummeled timber because of Jim Harbaugh’s pyroclastic flow. His hellish firecloud took zero prisoners and even came back repeatedly throughout the night looking for survivors to destroy. And he found them. Every time.

And the old timers who never believe an eruption is imminent and always stick it out? He made a set of coffee tables out of their plaster voids.

There was zero humanity to be found. Only anguish and despair. And self tanner, because this was New Jersey after all.

Head coach Chris Ash will spin this in a way to emphasize the fact that for recruits this was a blazing neon sign for “Look at the opportunities we have available.” But you’d have to be a lot more convincing than just saying, “Look how bad we sucked. Do you want to play in games like this? If you come here, you could help us suck less maybe?”

As expected following an event as monstrous as this game, you have to go well back into the history books for something that compares.

This was Michigan’s worst beating of a hated rival since they beat Ohio State 86-0 and Michigan State 119-0 in 1906. In fact, it was the 110th anniversary of that MSU game. Had Harbaugh known that, the Wolverines probably would have put up 110 points on Rutgers in honor of that glorious contest.

Like those games, there was nothing fair about this one.

Jim Harbaugh essentially turned this game into another Michigan satellite camp, and even had time to host a handful of official visits.

You could have given Rutgers the 58 points they gave up to Ohio State the week before and Michigan could have still beaten them by 40 if the need had arisen.

And I say all of this having only watched the first half of the game. You’ll have to forgive me, but after watching four quarters of Rutgers the week before, it would be cruel and unusual to ask me to watch four more quarters this week. And anyway, we didn’t learn a single thing from this game.

When Michigan Was on Offense

The Wolverines rushed for 481 yards in this game, which is all you need to know about the kind of mismatch this was. In their first three B1G games a year ago they managed just 461 yards rushing.

Eleven different players carried the ball for Michigan, and quarterback Wilton Speight wasn’t one of them because he faced less pressure than The Rock’s agent when looking for an acceptable script.

Chris Evans (153) and Karan Higdon (114) both went over 100 yards rushing, and Ty Isaac (93) and Jabrill Peppers (74) weren’t too far behind. Who was far behind? De’Veon Smith, who rushed for 11 yards on five carries. He also fumbled. He’s played well over the last couple of games, but if he no longer carried the ball I’m not sure Michigan’s offense would suffer.

Isaac continues to come on, but I like him much more out of the I-formation or pistol than the shotgun. He takes a while to get going, so I like him better when he’s already moving when he gets the ball. Evans and Higdon were both great, and they need to be great the rest of the season as well.

Four different players had two touchdown runs for the Wolverines, including fullback Khalid Hill who is a very productive goal-line runner for Michigan. Hill also caught a touchdown pass. He continues to be one of this offense’s most effective and opportunistic players.

The passing game was relatively unimpressive, however, as Wilton Speight completed just 6-of-13 passes for 100 yards and a touchdown. The numbers are meaningless because Michigan was up by a hundred after about the third kickoff, so there was no reason to throw it around, but when he was throwing it, Speight had more misses than hits.

That being said, he did have a couple of nice long completions to Jehu Chesson and Amara Darboh. Consistency continues to be an issue, but we’ve seen what happens when quarterbacks spend more and more time with Jim Harbaugh. Keep in mind, however, that this game was played in the rain, so we shouldn’t be too harsh.

Despite Speight’s upright nature, left tackle Juwann Bushell-Beatty again had some issues. This isn’t much of a surprise given that he was a backup just last week. He’ll get better, but he still has a ways to go. Fortunately, the schedule only seems to be getting easier.

I should take a moment to mention the role that Jabrill Peppers had on offense. He played wildcat and carried the ball three times for 74 yards and two touchdowns. The run he didn’t score on, however, was his best — a 63-yarder down the sideline. The more he can be involved on offense, the more of a pain it will be for defenses to deal with.

When Michigan Was on Defense

If you are reading this to your children, you might want to have them step away because the following sentences might be too much for our younger viewers to handle.

Rutgers threw the ball 18 times and completed just two passes for a total of five yards. That’s a passer rating of ‘maybe you should quit football and focus on academics instead’. The Scarlet Knights tried two quarterbacks and each of them did complete one pass, so hooray for that.

Watching Rutgers try to throw the ball was like watching a pregnant woman try to get on a horse. Yeah, it’s funny at first, but then you just kind of feel bad for not offering to help.

“Here, Chris Laviano, let me throw that to your second read for you. Watch me. Watch. See? Like that. Now you try it. No, no, we don’t throw with two hands, we throw with one hand. Chris, you’re not listening. Get the ball out of your mouth. Chris…”

I did like the Rutgers game plan when it came to throwing the ball. The only real way to attack this defense if you can’t run the ball is to throw it deep and hope for the best. Rutgers did just that, but hope can only do so much.

Keep in mind, however, that this game was played in the rain, so we shouldn’t be too harsh…

A couple of years ago Rutgers had a quarterback named Gary Nova who also was prone to struggling. I tweeted about him often, and it generally wasn’t very kind. I eventually decided to delete all of my tweets about him because they were pretty rough. Although, to be fair to me, there wasn’t really any other way to tweet about him. That’s sort of how I feel about this Rutgers passing game as well. To keep writing about it would basically be bullying.

So then we turn to the running game where the Scarlet Knights had nearly seven times the success of the passing game! That’s right, Rutgers rushed for 34 yards on 36 carries. For comparison’s sake, Michigan’s other rival — Ohio State — held Rutgers to 74 yards rushing the week before.

While some would question the sportsmanship of Harbaugh calling and successfully executing a fake extra point up 27-0 in the first half, the more egregious assault on the gentlemanly nature of this game was defensive coordinator Don Brown’s insistence upon blitzing the Rutgers offense when he knew exactly how disruptive it would be.

Brown’s defense was the abusive Yin to Rutgers’ submissive Yang. Michigan finished with 13 tackles for loss, with no player getting more than two. This was a complete team effort, so yeah, they should all be ashamed.

When Michigan Was Receiving Punts and Kicking Off

I think the most amazing stat from this game was that Rutgers punted the ball 16 times for 603 yards and only gave up three punt returns for 18 yards. That is the only silver lining for Rutgers from this game, other than the fact that football is only 60 minutes and not 90 or 120.

Of course, it should be mentioned that Jabrill Peppers had a ridiculous punt return for a touchdown that was called back because of a block in the back by safety Delano Hill. But hey, let’s let them have their silver lining, okay?

What Does It All Mean?

It means that Michigan should be a 20-point favorite when they come to Ohio State at the end of November.

Nah, it doesn’t mean that, but it does mean that Michigan is no longer the kind of program that will lend a helping hand to a lesser foe who is trying to defeat them. Even a year ago we saw a Wolverine team that too often had a soft heart and would provide some charity to their opponents. Now, however, Michigan’s cold, black heart is beating just fine. Opponents are all on their own and if they don’t leave the premises Jim Harbaugh will release the dogs or the bees or the dogs with bees in their mouths and when they bark they shoot bees at you.

Two years ago Michigan went to Rutgers as a one-point underdog. This time they went to Rutgers with the ability to name the score. Sure, that’s mostly Rutgers’ fault, but you still have to be pretty good to score 78 points while trying not to score 150.

It also means that we are finally done having to watch Rutgers this season, and even if you’re not happy about that, believe me when I tell you that I am happy enough for all of us.

The Road to The Game
Michigan 63 – Hawaii 3
Michigan 51 – UCF 14
Michigan 45 – Colorado 28
Michigan 49 – Penn State 10
Michigan 14 – Wisconsin 7
Michigan 78 – Rutgers 0
Michigan vs. Illinois
Michigan at Michigan State
Michigan vs. Maryland
Michigan at Iowa
Michigan vs. Indiana
Michigan at Ohio State