Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh praises QB Shea Patterson in 42-7 win over Rutgers, Nov. 10, 2018.
Nick Baumgardner, Freep
Looking back at what happened in Michigan football‘s 42-7 win at Rutgers, and a look ahead to Saturday’s home finale against Indiana:
What we learned at Rutgers
Perhaps the biggest takeaway was U-M’s ability to just work. Rutgers is bad. The atmosphere at Rutgers isn’t great. This had every sign of a sleep-walk game. But Michigan, despite one defensive error in the first quarter, rolled through this thing without much trouble. The Wolverines did basically whatever they wanted offensively with a somewhat limited game plan and had zero overall letdown in an easy win, the ninth straight on the year. Next week against Indiana presents the same situation. A win would make Jim Harbaugh the first Michigan coach since Fielding H. Yost to score double-digit win totals in three of his first four seasons.
Patterson in control
Michigan did not ask Shea Patterson to run the football and didn’t put him in any situations where he took unnecessary hits. In fact, he was barely touched and had one of his easiest production days of the season going 18 of 27 for 260 yards and three touchdowns. His passer rating is now at 160.3 on the season. A year after U-M’s quarterbacks struggled to protect the ball and score, Patterson has now posted 17 touchdowns against three interceptions, an outstanding ratio. He’s also completing 67 percent of his throws. If the season ended today, that’d be a Michigan single-season record.
More from Windsor: Patterson has what it takes to challenge Alabama
Getting to the Ohio State game as healthy as possible is still goal No. 1 here. Michigan had no trouble offensively on Saturday but did have a few issues defensively. Lavert Hill was evaluated for a concussion after the game while Kwity Paye left with an apparent arm injury. Josh Metellus traveled, but didn’t play with what Jim Harbaugh described as a “soft tissue” injury while Aubrey Solomon missed the trip due to illness. Whether any of these issues linger remains to be seen.
Next up: Indiana Hoosiers
Matchup: No. 4 Michigan (9-1, 7-0) vs. Indiana (5-5, 2-5).
When: 4 p.m. Saturday.
Where: Michigan Stadium.
TV/radio: FS1; WWJ-AM (950), WTKA-AM (1050).
Know the foe: Indiana has, at times, looked better than its 5-5 record. Other times, it looks exactly like a .500 football team. The Hoosiers rank No. 8 in the Big Ten in total offense and No. 9 in total defense. Right in the middle. Indiana started the year 4-1, but promptly dropped four straight. The Hoosiers did snap that frustrating skid, featuring lopsided losses to Ohio State and Iowa with close setbacks against Penn State and Minnesota, with a two-point win over Maryland on Saturday. Freshman running back Stevie Scott is at 894 yards and eight touchdowns this season. Quarterback Patrick Ramsey is agile in the pocket and has thrown for at least 230 yards in each of his last seven games. Though he has 12 touchdowns and nine interceptions in that span. The defense also gave up 353 rushing yards to Maryland.
Three things to watch
Out in style
It’ll be senior day at Michigan Stadium for the Wolverines, which is always a large production as Harbaugh has all fourth- and fifth-year seniors, regardless of whether or not they’re eligibility has expired, honored. U-M has a few juniors on this team, players like Rashan Gary and Devin Bush Jr., who could possibly be playing their final game at Michigan Stadium. The matchup isn’t very exciting, but there’s always emotions on senior day. Michigan should be able to use that to its advantage.
Harbaugh said Saturday night he’d like to continue the process of getting both Brandon Peters and Joe Milton backup reps in case they’re needed down the line this season. Both played against Rutgers and, if all goes according to plan for the Wolverines, both could see time against Indiana. Michigan’s primary goal is keeping Patterson healthy. And with Dylan McCaffrey out, Peters and Milton are serving as co-backups. The Wolverines are also at home, which means everyone can be in uniform and play.
This is the whole thing. Michigan has to get through one more game with its health intact before traveling to Columbus for the year’s biggest showdown. The Wolverines can, in theory, wrap up the Big Ten East with a win and a Buckeye loss Saturday. But more important: Keeping people healthy.
Contact Nick Baumgardner: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NickBaumgardner.