Michigan (2-3) at Rutgers (4-1) (ET)

FACTS & STATS: Site: High Point Solutions Stadium (52,454) — Piscataway, New
Jersey. Television: Big Ten Network. Home Record: UM 2-2, RU 2-1. Away Record:
UM 0-1, RU 2-0. Neutral Record: UM 0-0, RU 0-0. Conference Record: UM 0-1, RU
0-1. Series Record: First-ever meeting.

GAME NOTES: The Michigan Wolverines and Rutgers Scarlet Knights are set to
square off in Big Ten Conference action on Saturday night at High Point
Solutions Stadium.

Despite being the two oldest teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision in terms
of games played, these two have never met before.

Michigan enters with losses in two straight and three of its last four games.
The Wolverines opened their Big Ten schedule at home against Minnesota last
weekend and were turned away in a 30-14 defeat.

Meanwhile, Rutgers is off to a 4-1 start after topping Tulane at home last
Saturday, 31-6. However, the Scarlet Knights’ lone loss on the season came on
their home field against Penn State on Sept. 13 (13-10) in what was their
first-ever Big Ten contest.

First-year Wolverines offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier declined to
announce a starting quarterback in advance of Saturday’s game. The ultra-
athletic Devin Gardner had been the starter until last week’s game against
Michigan, when Shane Morris got the start. Morris, a left-hander and more of a
traditional pocket passer, completed only 7-of-19 passes for 49 yards and a
third-quarter interception that got returned for a touchdown. He was
eventually forced out of the game with a sprained ankle and also appeared
dazed after a late hit. Gardner entered in the fourth quarter and drove the
offense down the field for a touchdown, which he scored himself on a three-
yard keeper.

Still, the duo has combined for 12 turnovers on the year, as Michigan is tied
for last in the nation in turnovers lost and turnover margin. Through five
games, the Wolverines rank 98th nationally in total offense (357.6 ypg), 106th
in passing (172.2 ypg) and 101st in scoring (22.0 ppg).

While Michigan’s offense has endured its share of struggles, the defense has
been solid for the most part. The Wolverines enter this tilt ranked ninth in
the nation in total defense (283.4 ypg), tied for 20th in passing defense
(178.0 ypg) and 22nd in rushing defense (105.4 ypg). They have also picked up
18 tackles for loss over the last two games, marking the team’s highest two-
game total since 2011.

The unit allowed two offensive touchdowns against Minnesota last week, as one
of the Gophers’ scores came on an interception return. Joe Bolden led the way
with 10 tackles and a sack.

Rutgers quarterback Gary Nova threw four touchdown passes in the win over
Tulane as he broke Mike Teel’s school record for career touchdown passes (61).
Three of those scores went to his former high school teammate Leonte Carroo,
who finished with 140 yards on seven catches. With leading rusher Paul James
(90.8 rushing ypg, 5 TD) out for the year with a season-ending injury, Desmon
Peoples and Justin Goodwin combined for 165 yards on 33 carries (5.0 ypc).

The Scarlet Knights are averaging 176.2 rushing yards per game, which is up
nearly 50 yards per game from last year (129.5). Meanwhile, the offensive line
has excelled in pass protection, yielding only one sack over the last two
games.

While the Rutgers defense must prepare to face either of two different style
quarterbacks, one thing is for sure: the Scarlet Knights know how to create
pressure. They are tied for first in the country with 21 sacks and have had at
least four sacks in each of the last four games. Kemoko Turay is one of three
players with at least three sacks as he paces the squad with five on the year.
Also of note, the Rutgers defense has allowed just one touchdown in each of
its last two home games.

If it has not already passed, then certainly it is now-or-never time for head
coach Brady Hoke and the Wolverines. The defense has been solid, if largely
untested to this point, while the offensive line figures to have its hands
full with the Scarlet Knights’ relentless pass rush.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Rutgers 31, Michigan 20