Michigan football flashes dominance again in methodical blowout of Rutgers

Wolverines leave Piscataway with ninth straight win

Chase Winovich celebrates during a game against Rutgers at HighPoint.com Stadium on Nov. 10, 2018, in Piscataway, New Jersey. (Corey Perrine/Getty Images)

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - The pregame buzz surrounding Michigan-Rutgers was far removed from what the Wolverines dealt with over the last month.

Michigan went into Piscataway having played three straight games against ranked teams on a national stage. Three blowouts later, the Wolverines climbed to No. 4 in the country.

After all that hype, Michigan traveled to play a team that was 1-8 and hasn't won a game since Sept. 1. Is it shocking the Wolverines fell a little short of the wild pregame expectations?

Everybody wanted to know if Michigan would get its first shutout. Would it mirror the 78-0 beatdown from two years ago? Could Rutgers gain 100 yards of offense?

All those questions were put to rest near the end of the first quarter, when Isaih Pacheco scampered 80 yards for a touchdown.

Isaih Pacheco rushes for an 80-yard touchdown against Michigan Wolverines at HighPoint.com Stadium on Nov. 10, 2018, in Piscataway, New Jersey. (Corey Perrine/Getty Images)

But that doesn't mean Michigan wasn't dominant.

Great college football teams can impose their will on weaker opponents even if they don't play their best game. With Michigan coming off three weeks of near-perfect play, fans were expecting something special in Piscataway.

Instead, they saw an elite team methodically pull away from a lesser opponent, as Michigan answered the Rutgers touchdown with back-to-back scores to put the game away. The Scarlet Knights never stood a chance in the second half, as Michigan scored three unanswered touchdowns while forcing three punts and two turnovers.

It wasn't nearly as flashy as the 78-point blasting in 2016, and the defense didn't capitalize on a shutout opportunity. But there was very little stress, and Michigan ended up with a second straight 42-7 victory.

Jim Harbaugh didn't consider style points a major priority.

Shea Patterson, whose legs have taken Michigan's offense to a new level, didn't run the ball even once. The Wolverines instead opted to give carries to Berkley Edwards, Joe Hewlett and Tru Wilson.

Shea Patterson throws against Rutgers at HighPoint.com Stadium on Nov. 10, 2018, in Piscataway, New Jersey. (Corey Perrine/Getty Images)

It was a smart, though not flashy, game plan that still resulted in a five-touchdown win.

This Michigan has been unique in the way it's fueled by revenge. The fact that the first three chapters of the "revenge tour" were immediately followed by a game against the worst team in the conference perfectly set Michigan up for an uninspiring performance.

That wasn't really the case, though, as Harbaugh allowed Patterson to throw for 260 yards and three touchdowns. Patterson was never really put in a position to get hit, but he still asserted his dominance on the game.

It says a lot about Michigan that, after a 35-point victory, fans came away feeling like Rutgers hung in there.

It wasn't 78-0. It wasn't a shutout. Nothing really stood out, aside from Patterson. But when the final seconds ticked away, Michigan added another blowout win to its resume.

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