Michigan Football: Highlights, instant impresssions from win over Rutgers

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /

Michigan football dominated the first half against Rutgers, then had to hold on for dear life. Here are the highlights and our instant reaction.

A win is a win as they say, but Michigan football certainly didn’t look like a Big Ten contender in the second half of its 20-13 win over Rutgers.

Truth to be told, the Scarlet Knights dominated the final 30 minutes. At one point, they had 13 first downs compared to zero for Michigan and if it wasn’t for a few timely mistakes and some stellar red-zone defense by U-M, Rutgers could have easily escaped the Big House with a win.

It was a tall of two halves Saturday as Michigan football jumped out to a 20-3 lead. Cade McNamara was sharp in the first half completing 8-of-11 passes for 156 yards. Hassan Haskins scored twice but a late miss in the end zone halted momentum.

In the second half, the running game went nowhere until a couple of nice runs by Blake Corum on the second-to-last drive. Noah Vedral also moved Rutgers up-and-down the field in the second half, although it resulted in just 10 points and David Ojabo forced a fumble — recovered by the Wolverines to wrap up the win.

Here’s are some instant impressions:

Cade McNamara has a lot to prove

In the first half, McNamara was solid, outside of missing a wide-open touchdown. In the second half, he missed a number of throws and just lacked confidence. His lack of athleticism and arm talent was also apparent.

McNamara is a competitor but you have to wonder if he can get the job done next week at Wisconsin. If Rutgers was able to contain Michigan’s ground game, the Badgers likely will too and the Wolverines aren’t going to win unless McNamara plays better.

The running game is human after all

Michigan football has been dominant on the ground so far this season and the Wolverines looked good on the first two drives but after that, it was tough sledding.

U-M finished averaging just 2.9 yards per attempt. Michigan totaled just 112 yards and Corum was limited to 68 yards on 21 carries.

Rutgers was supposed to be susceptible against the run but it stacked the box and the passing game wasn’t able to make the Scarlet Knights pay.

Defense is still a bright spot

Vedral finished 18-of-31 for 156 yards and Rutgers ran for 196, which is concerning, but the defense made enough plays to win and that’s what matters.


It was dominant in the red zone and held Rutgers to three field-goal attempts on four trips by the Scarlet Knights inside the 20. That was the difference in the game.

The final defensive stop was key too, as was a big fourth-down stop prior to that. Michigan’s defense was on the field for way too long in the second half which was part of the reason Rutgers ran so well, but when it needed to, it rose up and that was encouraging.

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The questions we had at the start of the season, still exist and we’ll see how they are answered next week against Wisconsin.