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Greg Schiano calls Michigan a “great challenge”



Sep 16, 2023; Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA; Michigan Wolverines running back Donovan Edwards (7) rushes in the second half against the Bowling Green Falcons at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Rutgers (3-0) resumes Big Ten play on Saturday against No. 2 Michigan (3-0) in Ann Arbor. It’s the first road game of the season for RU and the first conference game for the Wolverines. It will also be the first game that Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh will be on the sidelines after serving a school imposed three game suspension involving a recruiting violation.

The defending Big Ten champions are heavy favorites against the Scarlet Knights. The betting line opened at 31 points and is currently down to 24 points. Interestingly enough, Rutgers is 3-0 against the spread this season and Michigan is 0-3.

Regardless, the test on the field in the Big House will be the biggest matchup for Rutgers this season by a long shot.

“Great challenge, No. 2 team in the country. Probably could be easily ranked No. 1; they are that good. There’s absolutely no weaknesses in this team,” Schiano said.

Michigan is obviously loaded on both sides of the ball and some believe it’s Harbaugh’s best team even after making the college football playoffs the previous two seasons.

Offensively, QB JJ McCarthy and running backs Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards lead the way. The offensive line was named the best in the country the previous two seasons. While statistically the Wolverines aren’t rated at the top of certain categories this season, it’s mostly because they they handled its business in non-conference play.

“When you look at what they have, their offensive line, two-time reigning Joe Moore Offensive Line of the Year, an experienced quarterback who can both run and throw accurately, deep, do all the things — he’s a future first-rounder at quarterback,””  They have two running backs that are as good as anybody’s in the country. A slew of receivers, tight ends.”

As for the Wolverine defense, they’re as good as it gets. Harbaugh’s defense is No. 1 nationally in only allowing 5.33 points per game. UM is No. 2 nationally in only allowing 222.3 yards per game this season. Michigan is also tied No. 32 nationally in defensive third down conversion rate at 32.5%.

“Flip it over to defense: Their defensive line is maybe the best in the country,” Schiano said. “Big, physical, deep. Linebackers run and hit. Secondary covers well.”

As for special teams, legendary Michigan kicker Jake Moody now plays on Sundays with the San Francisco 49ers. However, James Turner replaced him with a big leg of his own having connected from 42 and 50 yarders this season. In addition, punter Tommy Doman has pinned the opponent inside the 20 yard line and has a net punt average of 45.8 yards.

Schiano said of the Michigan kicking game, “they have specialists that are arguably the best in the nation.”

As for whether Rutgers can scare Michigan for a fourth straight season, Schiano was asked about what has made this team different when facing the Wolverines while also falling just short each time.

“I don’t know. If I knew what was missing, you know, I would have employed it and done it and hopefully won the game. But yeah, I think, you know, one thing about our guys, they work so hard, and they are so focused that given the opportunity, they are going to be ready to go. Will it be good enough? Heck, I don’t know. But we are to go give it everything we’ve got.”

As for the first road game of the season for Rutgers, Schiano sounded upbeat and excited about playing away from home.

“I love going on the road, especially the first time when you take your 74 guys you’re allowed to bring and your staff, and it’s just you and you go on the road,” Schiano said. “Nothing like it. When you come out of that tunnel and everybody is against you and it’s just your guys, that’s a special feeling, one that I think every athlete that’s done it appreciates it and enjoys it. Again, great opportunity. Coached there many times. Excited abt the chance.”

If there is one thing we know for sure about Rutgers, it’s that his team will be as prepared as possible for this game. Whether Rutgers has to the talent, depth and big play ability to seriously threaten Michigan remains to be seen. At least this team should not be intimidated. Two years ago, the Scarlet Knights allowed zero second half points in a 20-13 loss to Michigan on its last trip to the Big House.

“So definitely a tall order, but we need to make sure we take care of us,” said Schiano.  “That’s what we need to do and that’s what we’ll do in preparation, and then great opportunity to go out to Ann Arbor and go play. So looking forward to it.”

Every Rutgers fan is looking forward to the game as well. After playing Michigan close in five of the last six halves these two programs have played, there is hope the outcome on Saturday could be different.

Watch Schiano’s full game week presser for Michigan below.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. pj43

    September 19, 2023 at 4:58 pm

    L’il jimmy “Who’s got it better then us?” harbaugh is in his 9th season at Michigan. He took over the program that has won the most games in all of collegiate football. With all of the advantages that a national program like that has, it took until year 7 for Jimmy to beat OSU after 6 successive failures. By year 7, to his credit, l’il jimmy finally found the right combination of recruits and assistant coaches to beat OSU and get to the Final Four. He just may have the best team in college football this season.

    Now, consider Greg Schiano in year 4 of Schiano 2.0. Unlike l’il jimmy, he didn’t come back to a winning, national football power. Nevertheless, many of the Scarlet faithful, much like Michigan followers on l’il jimmy’s return, expected an instant turnaround in the program’s fortunes. Some of the Scarlet faithful said Schiano was on the hot seat this season in year 4. Go figure.

    Anyway, Schiano’s teams have given l’il jimmy all he could handle recently. Perhaps Schiano learned something while coaching under Urban Meyers while at OSU. Given Rutgers unproven offense against a quality defense, it’s probably too much to expect an upset in Michigan’s Big House. But, I do expect Rutgers to match Michigan’s physicality and to do so for 4 quarters, the final score notwithstanding. And, I don’t think it’s too farfetched to think that Schiano will “develop” a team that will beat Michigan by year 7.

    One last thought. This is a question for l’il jimmy. Beginning with the class of ’21 and through ’24 – you’ve offered 30 NJ recruits and gotten 3 commits. Whaddup wit dat?! Schiano offered 5 Michigan recruits during that period and got 2 commits. You’d better watch your back yard, l’il Jimmy! Coach Schiano offered 3 more Michigan recruits in ’25 – so far. Do you notice a trend, lil jimmy? Gone are the days of cherry picking Jersey, eh l’il jimmy.

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