Michigan plays host to Rutgers as 24-point favorites to begin Big Ten play. The over-under is set at 44 points in the college football odds, per BetUS.
When it comes to the point spread, both teams offer plenty of question marks. Michigan’s offensive production has been modest despite playing lesser Group of Five opponents for the first three weeks of the season.
Rutgers managed to notch an impressive 35-16 victory over Virginia Tech despite quarterback Gavin Wimsatt managing 46 passing yards. The Scarlet Knights leaned on Kyle Monangai who notched 143 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns against the Hokies.
It is worth noting that Michigan opened as a massive 31.5-point favorite and the line has now moved more than a touchdown in Rutgers’ favor. The over-under has not fluxuated as the Las Vegas college football odds indicate we could be headed for a low-scoring affair.
— Mike Broadbent (@MikeBbent) September 17, 2023
Let’s examine the case for both teams against the spread before making an NCAA game predictions for this Big Ten clash.
Rutgers vs Michigan Game Information
- Game: Rutgers vs Michigan
- Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan Stadium
- Day/Time: Saturday, Sept 23, 12:00pm EST
- Live Stream: ESPN
Why Back Rutgers to Cover +24
The recipe for Rutgers under Greg Schiano has not changed during his second head coaching stint with the program. Lean on a punishing rushing attack and a stingy defense which is why the Scarlet Knights have a chance to hang with Michigan.
Spread your anti Rutgers propaganda elsewhere https://t.co/0S9Smbcojq
— CFBTalkDaily (@CFBTalkDaily) September 18, 2023
Unlike Michigan, Rutgers has played two Power Five opponents with convincing wins over Northwestern and Virginia Tech. Neither of these teams project to be among the top college football powers this season but at least gives Rutgers both experience and confidence as they travel to Ann Arbor.
Wolverines quarterback J.J. McCarthy is coming off throwing three interceptions against Bowling Green. Rutgers is sure to watch film of this effort and attempt to force the quarterback into making similar mistakes.
Please do not share this video of JJ McCarthy throwing an interception. pic.twitter.com/CRychYRBcY
— Black Shoe Diaries (@BSDtweet) September 17, 2023
Why Back Michigan To Cover -24
Michigan has played with their food to start the season with the latest example being leading Bowling Green 14-6 at halftime. The Wolverines did follow up this slow start with 17 unanswered points in the third quarter as the Michigan defense shutout Rutgers in the second half.
It is reasonable to expect McCarthy to bounce back from an uncharacteristically turnover-heavy performance in Week 3. Michigan is likely motivated to put together their first complete performance now that the Wolverines are beginning Big Ten play.
Wimsatt has yet to top 200 passing yards this season and this will need to change for Rutgers to compete with Michigan. The Scarlet Knights are likely going to find it much more challenging to lean on their rushing attack against Michigan’s vaunted defensive line.
Rutgers vs Michigan Betting Odds
NCAA Football Picks: Michigan Wins but Rutgers Covers
My main concern is the Rutgers offense being able to put up points against Michigan, but the Wolverines have also lacked explosiveness to begin the season. This is not going to be appointment viewing, and I think we could be headed for a defensive-heavy contest with sputtering offenses.
I was surprised to see a 24 pt line for the Rutgers game. They are 3-0 with 3 dominant wins over FBS teams, including Northwestern and Virginia Tech. It sounds crazy to say, but they are likely Michigan’s toughest opponent until week 10 against Penn St.
— Wolverine Chronicle (@WolverineChron) September 19, 2023
Despite the value being on Michigan now that the opening line has dropped, I think Rutgers can keep this game within striking distance and will benefit from already playing Power Five opponents. I’m gritting my teeth and taking Rutgers to cover the 24-point spread, but Michigan winning the game should never be in real doubt.