3 things to watch for Michigan football vs. Rutgers

Syndication: Detroit Free Press
Syndication: Detroit Free Press /
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Michigan football will open Big Ten play on Saturday against Rutgers and here are three things to watch for the Wolverines. 

After three non-conference opponents that didn’t do much to test Michigan football, the Wolverines will get their first real challenge of the season on Saturday against Rutgers.

I know some scoff at the idea that Rutgers is a test, but Greg Schiano has the Scarlet Knights playing a winning brand of football right now.

Rutgers (3-0, 1-0) has the top-ranked rushing offense in the Big Ten, as well as a defense that has allowed just 10 points per game. For the record, Rutgers has played two Power-5 opponents. Virginia Tech and Northwestern have been bad, but Rutgers also took care of business.

The Wolverines are a 24-point favorite. Michigan football hasn’t covered the spread in the first three games but didn’t win any of its games by fewer than 25 points.

So looking ahead to Saturday’s Big Ten opener, here are three things to watch for Michigan football vs. Rutgers.

Can Michigan stop Kyle Monangai?

Kyle Monangai is a dynamic player and one of the top rushers in all of college football right now with 357 yards through three games. He’s averaging 6.2 yards per attempt. Quarterback Gavin Wimsatt also has over 150 yards rushing, but make no mistake, Monangai is the straw that stirs the drink that is the Rutgers offense.

As a team, Rutgers is rushing for 210 yards per game and actually has the top-ranked rushing attack in the Big Ten. The problem for the Scarlet Knights is that the Wolverines have been outstanding against the run allowing just 81 yards and 2.6 per attempt.

If Michigan’s run defense can keep Monangai in check, and limit the Scarlet Knights to under 100 yards rushing, the path to covering the spread is much easier. But if Monangai is able to churn out another 100-yard game on Saturday, then this could go down to the wire.