Rutgers and Michigan have been playing football since 1869 and 1879, respectively, yet this Saturday will be the first time in history these two historic programs get together on the gridiron. How many people thought it would look like this though? If in the beginning of the season you had to choose a team in this game that hasn’t knocked off a Power-5 opponent and is looking like an embarrassment on offense, would you have chosen Michigan? Geez.
Matchup of the game: Rutgers’ D-line vs. Michigan’s O-line
That’s pretty simple. Rutgers has been getting after the quarterback this year; it’ll have a very similar feel and look that Utah took to Ann Arbor a couple weeks ago, and Lord knows we remember how that turned out. The Scarlet Knights are stunning people with their defense. Everyone knew it was a young unit in 2013, but for it to find this kind of success one year later—that’s impressive. After stellar showing against Penn State and Christian Hackenberg on Sept. 13, it’s easy to see where Rutgers finds its success.
The interior of Rutgers’ defensive line is made up of tackles Darius Hamilton and Kenneth Kirksey. Hamilton has recorded 3.5 sacks this season to go along with six tackles for loss. He’s an aggressive pass-rusher who has simply been having his way with opposing linemen.
Moving out to the end, it’ll be freshman Kemoko Turay, who leads the Scarlet Knights with five sacks, who likely ends up giving Michigan the most trouble come Saturday.
Michigan’s offensive line hasn’t looked like anything special through the first five games of the season. Sure, freshman Mason Cole looks like a thriving talent at left tackle, but there are various holes across the line that will put Devin Gardner is harm’s way, which isn’t exactly a new thing when it comes to Michigan’s offense.
Rutgers is going to dial up the pressure on its home field and force Michigan to respond to a few punches, which hasn’t happened at all this season. It’ll be ignited by a fiery defensive front that loves getting after the quarterback, and that alone may be enough to squander Michigan’s chances in this dance.