Michigan Wolverines (5-0 SU, 3-2 ATS) vs. Rutgers Scarlet Knights (2-3 SU, 2-3 ATS)
College Football Week 6
Date/Time: Saturday, October 8 at 7pm ET
Where: High Points Solutions Stadium
by Evergreen, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: MICH -26/RUTG +26
Over/Under Total: 54
The haves and have-nots are easily recognizable by this point in the NCAA Football season and we have a matchup featuring one of each this weekend as the Michigan Wolverines head to New Jersey to take on the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers. Michigan comes into the week ranked 4th in the country and they look to keep the momentum going on the way to a possible playoff berth. Rutgers was not done any favors by the schedule maker that had them face Ohio State and Michigan in back-to-back weeks and the Knights will be looking to avoid another landslide loss.
No real surprises with the point spread here with the online betting sites tabbing Michigan as 26 point favorites. Rutgers has not fared well in conference since moving to the Big Ten and enters the week just 1-6 against the spread in their last seven against conference foes. Rutgers did hand Michigan a loss in 2014 but was favored by three in that game so even one of their few Big Ten wins came with an ATS loss. The Wolverines have dropped two ATS decisions this season but have covered the next week each time as part of a current 4-0 streak in games following an ATS loss.
Michigan has looked fantastic in winning five games but they head out on the road for the very first time this season. They survived a heavyweight fight against Wisconsin last week, outlasting the Badgers 14-7 while putting on a defensive clinic. Michigan held Wisconsin to just 159 total yards on offense and picked off three passes, including one during the final possession that sealed the deal. The surprising thing was that Jabrill Peppers was not a factor in the game and the defense still dominated all day. Wilton Speight ground out a nice day against a strong Badger defense, remained poised and threw the go-ahead touchdown with just under eight minutes left in the game. That will likely be the toughest defense he sees this year and it appears that the sky is the limit with Speight under center.
There isnt much to say for Rutgers after the 58-0 loss to Ohio State last week. The Knights managed just 116 total yards of offense, averaged 2.2 yards per carry for the day and completed just 3-of-16 passes. It seems like all came apart when WR Janarion Grant went down for the year. Grant was the only playmaker on the offense and handled all the kick return duties as well. The results without him have Rutgers outside the top-100 in passing yards, total yards and points per game. They have run the ball well at times, averaging 193 yards per game but that doesnt cut it when they trail big. Chris Laviano has some experience at QB and enough wiggle to extend plays but he has completed less than 50% of his passes. Rutgers is simply without playmakers on that side of the ball, and they have not scored a point since losing Grant. Robert Martin leads the team with 398 rushing yards but he is not the kind of homerun threat that is going to stress out a top-25 run stopping unit like Michigan.
Michigan has plenty in the cupboard on offense. Amara Darboh and TE Jake Butt are premier targets for Speight with the duo grabbing eight of Michigans ten receiving touchdowns. DeVeon Smith and Chris Evans have become an effective thunder-and-lightning tandem, accounting for five of the Wolverines amazing 16 rushing touchdowns thus far. Jabrill Peppers will find his way into some offensive sets more than likely but the base sets for Michigan should be good enough to take care of a Rutgers defense allowing 32.4 points per game. The Knights have been especially poor against the run, allowing 227 yards per game. Michigan lost left tackle Grant Newsome for the season but they are deep on the O-line and wont likely see any drop-off this week.
Normally, I could come up with some plausible scenario for any underdog to pull an upset when they are getting 26 points at home but I just cant here. Michigan is legitimately good and Rutgers is legitimately bad. Like FCS team bad. I dont think you would blink at eating the 26 if Michigan traveled to directional Connecticut and you shouldnt blink here, either. Im not trying to rag of Rutgers either but there is just no reasonable case to be made that they are going to suddenly be a good football team this weekend. Michigan could be ripe for a letdown after a big game last week but that isnt going to keep them from scoring forty. Michigan isnt going to get caught looking ahead either as I think Jim Harbaugh has this team well aware that style points count when talking about playoff rankings. Take Michigan, they might shutout Rutgers. I will give the home team a TD as I dont doubt their pride and professionalism but that is all they get in losing 49-7.
Evergreens Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Michigan
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