Rutgers football fell 31-7 to Michigan on Saturday afternoon, a game that was rather disappointing considering all of the upset hype in the national media over the previous week.
However, Rutgers is a stronger football team than it was last year, as seen by the defeat to Michigan.
It is not, in fact, scarlet-colored eyewear. Everything from Saturday was better than the previous season, when Rutgers was thrashed 52-17 by Michigan in the second half.
That is the yardstick for a reconstruction programme like Rutgers. Are they better placed versus the same opponent than they were 11 months ago?
Yes, the answer is yes.
There’s no question that Michigan is a significantly superior team than Rutgers right now, but this wasn’t easy for the Wolverines. The nation’s second-best squad was defeated (again) by Rutgers 7-0 in the first quarter and held a small 14-7 advantage at halftime.
Rutgers fell to Michigan on Saturday, but this has been Schiano’s finest start to a season since his return. Despite a lacklustre showing on Saturday, this is a better team.
Rutgers is 3-1 in its first four games, including two Power Five victories. They weren’t blasted away by Michigan, but they did play well. This squad is unquestionably on the rise.
Okay, Captain Obvious, but bear with us for a bit.
This week, there was a lot of chatter about Rutgers being ready to take on Michigan on the road. Much of the discussion focused on Rutgers’ performance three years ago (a quadruple OT defeat to Michigan) and in 2021 (a one-score loss in Ann Arbour). Also, Rutgers led Michigan at halftime last year.
Saturday demonstrated that Rutgers has really progressed. It also demonstrated that Michigan, Ohio State, and Penn State are a level (if not two) above Rutgers right now. Rutgers had a taste of reality on Saturday, but it was reality coupled with a healthy dose of confidence that this programme has turned the corner.
While he committed his first turnover of the season against Michigan, Wimsatt greatly outperformed his performance against Michigan a year earlier, when he threw three interceptions.
A respectable 11-of-21 for 180 yards, a score, and an interception demonstrates that the Rutgers quarterback has all of the necessary attributes to be a Big Ten quarterback. On Saturday afternoon at Ann Arbour, several questions regarding Wimsatt were addressed.
Was he domineering? No. But the occasion was not too large for him. This was a solid play from the Rutgers quarterback.
Rutgers will play a better Wisconsin squad in two weeks, but first they must defeat Wagner. This game will not be in question for Rutgers, and it should be a chance to test some depth and get some injured guys healthy.
It’s no easy challenge to go 4-1 after two Big Ten games and three Power Five opponents. It also offers Rutgers some breathing space in terms of bowl eligibility.