Thus far, it’s been a great season for Scarlet Knights fans. Rutgers kicked off the 2023 season with a Big Ten win over Northwestern. The weeks to follow included wins over Temple and Virginia Tech. And while spirits are high, this week’s matchup against the Wolverines hovers over Piscataway like a dark storm cloud.
Michigan to Test Rutgers’ Win Streak
Who: Rutgers vs. University of Michigan
When: Saturday, September 23 at 12:00 PM EST
Where: Michigan Stadium – Ann Arbor, Michigan
How to Watch: Big Ten Network, Fubo TV, Fox Sports App
Gavin Wimsatt Will Lead the Team in the Big House
It’s been a great season for Rutgers quarterback, Gavin Wimsatt. He remains one of only two quarterbacks in the Big Ten that have not thrown a single interception this season (the other being Penn State’s Drew Allar). We’ve seen Wimsatt run for multiple touchdowns himself and the on-field relationship between him and running back Kyle Monangai heat up.
There’s no doubt that this week will be their biggest challenge yet. In fact, it may be their biggest challenge all season.
Michigan is Wimsatt’s first opponent that he is returning as a starter against. Last season, Rutgers played Goldilocks with their quarterbacks. They bounced between contenders, trying to see who was the best fit. At the end of the 2022 season, they failed to find their ‘just right’ guy. Nonetheless, Wimsatt’s off-season growth and pre-season performance earned him his position as Rutgers’ starting quarterback this year.
However, while playing this game of Goldilocks, Wimsatt was chosen to start against Michigan last year. He went 14 of 29, passing for 166 yards, scored one touchdown, and threw three interceptions. Now he’s ready to face the Wolverines again, new and improved.
Who Will Take the Field for the Scarlet Knights?
Rutgers has been missing some key players this season. Running back Aaron Young was an exciting return to Rutgers’ roster this season but has yet to see field time. After head coach Greg Schiano announced that Young was at almost full recovery from his injury in week two, he was rumored to make his return against Virginia Tech. To the dismay of many disappointed fans, he did not return to the field in week three. There has not been any word on his status for this week’s game.
While Rutgers’ offense would be stronger with Young in place, they have been managing just fine with Monangai in place. Monangai has been crushing his own team records this season, continuing to pick up yardage and points as the weeks move along.
Naseim Brantley, the wide receiver transfer who came to Rutgers in the offseason, is still on hold to play while Schiano fights an NCAA eligibility ruling against him.
The injury report stays clear of defense players with the exception of one defensive back. Max Melton, Deion Jennings, and Aaron Lewis are key defensive players who will take the field once again this weekend.
Wolverines to Watch Out For
To ask which players from Michigan pose a threat is like asking how many of your friends have birthdays.
The answer: all of them.
Ranked at number two in the nation, the life of Rutgers’ win streak is more likely than not to come to an end this week.
Amongst a team of greats, there are three players the Scarlet Knights should spend more time preparing to come up against. Three players on Michigan’s roster earned spots on the Pro Football Focus Top 50 list during the pre-season.
At number 45 on the list is the 6’3”, 304-pounder, Kris Jenkins. This defensive lineman ended the 2022 season tied up for the most defensive stops in the nation from an interior defensive lineman.
Number 21 on the list is defensive back Will Johnson. Johnson came to Michigan last season as a top-20 recruit. He ended the season with an 88.2 overall grade, tying him up for the highest grade from a Power Five true freshman.
And at number four on the list is Blake Corum, a Michigan history-maker. His 96.2 overall score made him the highest-graded player in the nation.
While not on PPF’s list, J.J. McCarthy is a huge threat to Rutgers’ defense. There’s a reason this quarterback plays for the second-best team in the nation.
If Rutgers can expand their win streak to 4-0 this weekend, it’ll be a day to be remembered in Rutgers Football history.