By the Numbers: Week 5 @ Rutgers



Michigan was steamrolled by the Wisconsin Badgers 49-11 in Ann Arbor.  Even with low expectations, the fan base was still mortified by the poor performance.

NEXT UP: @ Rutgers: 108th, -10.5

PREGAME SP+: Michigan by 19.3, Michigan Win Probability 87%
A quick note: Bill Connelly’s content at ESPN has moved behind the ESPN+ paywall.  In addition to his rankings article I always link (PREGAME SP+ above), I’ll also share this article where Connelly discusses why SP+ missed on Michigan (the defense).  He mentioned that without preseason projections, the Wolverines would be in the 60s in SP+ overall ranking.  They are currently 27th overall.

Michigan Offense (35th) vs. Rutgers Defense (90th) 
Here is some bad news, then some good news, then some unknowns.  The bad news is Michigan’s offense has only looked viable in one game versus Minnesota.  The Gophers were the 44th ranked defense per SP+ heading into week 1, but have plummeted to 85th after four games.  The good news is the week 5 opponent is Rutgers and they are putting the 90th ranked defense out there on Saturday.  Will Michigan be able to mount any successful offensive rhythm this Saturday in prime time?  We won’t know much until we’ve seen whether the two OTs, Jaylen Mayfield and Ryan Hayes, are back in the lineup.  Also, we need to find out who steps forward at quarterback after Joe Milton was benched in favor of Cade McNamara last week.

Michigan Defense (26th) vs. Rutgers Offense (112th)
Rutgers has been boom or bust from drive to drive this season.  They have scored at least 20 points in every game, including 27 against Ohio State.  They were able to cash in on Michigan State’s 7 turnovers to score 38 in week one.  However, in terms of efficiency and explosiveness, they are still lacking severely and have slipped to 112th in offensive SP+.  I expect they will attack Michigan the same way the last three opponents have.  They will test the corners deep down the sidelines.  Also, running back Isaih Pacheco will run right at the edge defenders who struggled so mightily against Wisconsin.  

PREDICTION: This may very well be Jim Harbaugh’s last stand.  A loss to Rutgers will signal that the 2020 team may have decided to pack it in.  While I do expect to see many frustrating plays on both sides of the ball, I don’t think the program will roll over.  I am prepared to see a close game throughout, but in the 4th quarter Michigan’s playmakers will have to step forward.  I would feel better about this prediction if I knew for certain who those playmakers are.

Michigan 33 Rutgers 27 (PRESEASON Michigan 41 Rutgers 10)


SP+ Overall: 27th (↓9), 10.7
SP+ Offense: 35th (↓5), 33.0
SP+ Defense: 26th (↓7), 22.2
SP+ Special Teams: 83rd (↑21), -0.1

AP Poll: NR (same), 0

Coaches’ Poll: NR (same), 0

CFP Rank: N/A

About Clint Derringer

@clint_derringer on Twitter U-M B.A. Sport Management & Communications ‘05 U-M M.S. Program & Project Management ‘18