ANN ARBOR, Mich. – No. 20 Michigan looks to bounce back from its first loss of the season when it hosts Rutgers on Saturday. The Wolverines, who were picked to win the Big Ten in the preseason media poll, suffered a humbling 35-14 defeat to ninth-ranked Wisconsin in their conference opener to tumble down the national rankings and hope to get back on track after another inconsistent offensive display by taking down the Scarlet Knights for the fifth consecutive time.
TV: Noon ET, Big Ten Network. LINE: Michigan -27.5.
There was considerable hype surrounding new offensive coordinator Josh Gattis and his speed-in-space philosophy, but Michigan's offense has failed to take off and ranks second-to-last in the nation in lost fumbles (seven), as it searches for an identity under the first-time play-caller. Rutgers is heading in the wrong direction as a 30-16 loss to Boston College in Week 4 dropped Chris Ash's team below .500. The Scarlet Knights, who opened up Big Ten play with a 30-0 setback to No. 14 Iowa, have dropped 16 of their last 19 conference games since the start of the 2017 season and hope to turn their fortunes around by knocking off the Wolverines for the first time since a 26-24 win on Oct. 4, 2014. "Our mindset is to go play the best football we can regardless of who we play or where we play," Ash told reporters. "It's a very positive football team and they're going to work every single day because of the love they have for each other."
ABOUT RUTGERS (1-2, 0-1 Big Ten)
Artur Sitkowski had one of the best games of his young career last week as the sophomore quarterback completed 23-of-33 passes for 304 yards and a touchdown; Ash revealed he will get the start against Michigan as McLane Carter remains in the concussion protocol. Running back Raheem Blackshear matched his career high with nine catches for 130 yards and a touchdown against the Eagles to extend his streak of consecutive games with at least one reception to 16. Adam Korsak was named the Ray Guy National Punter of the Week for the second time this season after pinning all five of his attempts inside the 20-yard line in Week 5.
ABOUT MICHIGAN (2-1, 0-1)
Shea Patterson continues to look uncomfortable in the new offense as he was 14-of-32 for 219 yards and a pair of touchdowns while throwing an interception and losing a fumble in the loss to Wisconsin. Dylan McCaffrey went 3-of-8 for 40 yards before he was knocked out of the game by a high hit that drew a targeting penalty; he will miss Saturday's game with a concussion while tight end Sean McKeon is doubtful with a knee injury. Donovan Peoples-Jones caught a touchdown pass in his season debut after missing the previous two games with a high-ankle sprain, while linebacker Josh Ross is questionable with an undisclosed injury.
1. Michigan has outscored Rutgers 204-37 over their past four meetings.
2. Blackshear leads all Division I running backs with 7.3 receptions per game.
3. Wolverines LB Khaleke Hudson is ranked 11th nationally in tackles per game (11.3).
PREDICTION: Michigan 31, Rutgers 13