College Football Odds, Picks, Predictions for Rutgers vs. Michigan: How to Bet Saturday’s Big Ten Matchup
Alika Jenner/Getty Images. Pictured: Cade McNamara (left) and Jim Harbaugh.
- Rutgers travels to Ann Arbor on Saturday to take on Michigan in a Big Ten matchup.
- The Wolverines have started the season hot, taking home a victory in every game and entering this one as big favorites.
- Check out Mike Ianniello's betting guide below, complete with odds, picks, and predictions based on his analysis.
Rutgers vs. Michigan Odds
|Moneyline||+700 / -1125|
|Time||3:30 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.|
ESPN’s Bill Connelly tweeted earlier this week that if all preseason projections were taken out of SP+ calculations, Michigan would currently be ranked No. 1 in the country by SP+.
Jim Harbaugh’s seat continues to warm up in Ann Arbor after a 2-4 season last year and he was essentially forced to take a pay cut when he signed his recent contract extension this offseason.
While Michigan becomes more and more frustrated with its head coach, Rutgers is finally optimistic about football again thanks to the return of Greg Schiano to the state university of New Jersey.
Schiano was the head coach at Rutgers from 2001-11, leading the school to eight win seasons in five of his final six years there. He left for the head-coaching job with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and after a stop at Ohio State, he’s back with the Scarlet Knights.
Rutgers went 3-6 through an all Big Ten schedule in his first season back in New Jersey and the team looked much more competitive, including a close 48-42 loss in three overtimes against Michigan.
Now off to a 3-0 start for the first time since 2012, the Knights look to make a statement against the Wolverines.
Rutgers vs. Michigan Betting Preview
After rotating three quarterbacks for much of last season, Noah Vedral now has a stranglehold on the role. After throwing nine touchdowns and eight interceptions last season, he has cleaned up the turnovers so far and has tossed four touchdowns and no picks. Vedral is completing 71.6% of his passes and averaging 7.5 yards per attempt on the year.
This offense returned 10 starts from last year, including leading rushing Isaih Pacheco, who has tallied three touchdowns on the ground this year. Four players already have multiple rushing touchdowns for the Scarlet Knights who rank 18th in Rushing Success Rate this year.
Creating explosiveness has been an issue on offense, though, and Bo Melton is really the only real receiving threat on the outside and is responsible for over 36% of the team’s total receiving yards.
This team is 3-0 and the offense has gotten it done against lesser competition, but a ranking of 107 yards per play is still a big concern as conference play begins.
As is expected from a Schiano-coached team, defense is the strength of this team and has led the way so far this season.
It’s still a small sample size, but the Rutgers defense is currently second in the entire country at creating Havoc on defense. They led the Big Ten in tackles for loss last season and are at the top again this year too.
Linebacker Olakunle Fatukasi is a Havoc wrecking machine for the Scarlet Knights. He leads the team with 31 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks this year.
Currently, the Rutgers passing defense ranks fourth in the nation in Success Rate, but don’t expect that to last much longer.
For starters, they played Temple and Syracuse — who both rank outside of the top 70 in Success rate — and an FCS team who threw for 330 yards.
The other concern is that cornerbacks Max Melton and Chris Long have both been suspended after being arrested and charged for aggravated assault with a paintball gun on Monday.
Melton especially is a huge loss as he’s the team’s best defensive back and already has two interceptions this year.
The Wolverines’offense has done what they were supposed to do early this season, which is flex their muscles against lesser opponents. They put together a great performance against Washington racking up 387 yards and then, averaged 578.5 total yards in the two games against MAC schools.
The early strategy just seems to be to run the ball until they are stopped, and that has yet to happen. Michigan currently leads the country with 350.3 rushing yards per game with 15 scores on the ground and is averaging 7.2 yards per carry.
Running back duo Blake Corum and Hassan Haskins have split carries, and both have been terrific. Corum in particular has averaged 135.7 yards per game — third in the country — and has gone for 8.5 yards per carry.
— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) September 18, 2021
Quarterback Cade McNamara hasn’t been asked to do too much but has done his job so far. He’s thrown just 37 passes and completed 65% of them and has thrown three touchdowns and no interceptions. He’s yet to be sacked and has been hit just once all year.
The big question for the Wolverines’ offense is who will step up at receiver and be able to stretch the defense in the absence of the team’s best receiver Ronnie Bell.
So far it looks like Cornelius Johnson will be the top guy, but they’ll need others to emerge as well.
After five seasons under Don Brown, teams started to figure out the aggressive scheme and Brown was unable to adjust.
This season, Harbaugh went out and hired Mike Macdonald as defensive coordinator. Macdonald previously served as the linebackers coach for Jim’s brother John in Baltimore.
Macdonald is going to make this defense more versatile and adaptable, switching from a 3-4 to 4-3 and other schemes depending on the play. It seems to be working so far as the Wolverines rank 36th in Success Rate against the run and 33rd in Success Rate against the pass.
This Wolverines defense has allowed just 34 total points in the first two games and has been especially stout against the run, allowing just one rushing score and 3.3 yards per carry.
Against Washington, the Huskies managed just 1.6 yards per carry and were completely shut down.
Edge rusher Kwity Paye is off to the NFL but Aidan Hutchinson returns after playing just three games last year before an injury ended his season. He leads Michigan with 4.5 tackles for loss and is tied for the FBS lead with 4.5 sacks this year.
The biggest weakness for this defense so far has been a lack of pass rush from anyone outside of Hutchinson.
Rutgers is just 92nd at preventing Havoc, so the Wolverines will need to find a way to take advantage of that and get into the backfield.
Rutgers vs. Michigan Matchup Analysis
Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Rutgers and Michigan match up statistically:
Rutgers Offense vs. Michigan Defense
Michigan Offense vs. Rutgers Defense
Pace of Play / Other
Rutgers vs. Michigan Betting Pick
Something’s got to give in the Havoc department here as Rutgers comes in at No. 2 in the country at creating Havoc on defense, while Michigan is No. 1 in the country at preventing Havoc on offense.
Michigan has been able to run the ball on everybody this season and I don’t expect that to change against Rutgers. McNamara hasn’t been asked to do much yet. I don’t necessarily trust him against elite defenses, but losing Melton from that Rutgers secondary is a big loss.
Rutgers is going to struggle to move the ball against the Wolverines. It’s averaging just 3.3 yards per carry — 111th in the country — and if they’re forced to rely on Vedral, they are in trouble.
The Scarlet Knights don’t have the ability to generate big plays and a Michigan team that grades out 10th in tackling, per PFF, will be able to keep things in front of them.
Finally, Rutgers has really benefited from turnover luck to help its offensive numbers. The Scarlet Knights sit second in turnover margin and have had the second-best average starting field position in the country.
The Michigan defense is seventh in finishing drives and will not let Rutgers drive down the field on them.
The Wolverines will continue to flex their muscles at home against lesser competition, so I will lay the points.