No. 2 Michigan starts its pursuit of a third consecutive Big Ten title, kicking off conference play against Rutgers on Saturday. It's the fourth consecutive home game for the Wolverines. The battle of 3-0 conference foes also marks the return of coach Jim Harbaugh to the Michigan sideline. He sat out for to open the season, stemming from Harbaugh being untruthful with NCAA investigators concerning alleged recruiting violations.
Michigan has yet to be truly tested, as the two-time reigning Big Ten champions posted decisive victories against three Group of Five opponents -- East Carolina, UNLV and Bowling Green -- during Harbaugh's absence. Rutgers, on the other hand, opened the season with Big Ten competition out of the gate, defeating Northwestern at home in Week 1. The Scarlet Knights then handled Temple with ease in Week 2 before defeating Virginia Tech in Week 3 for their second win of the season against an opponent from a power conference.
Saturday's matchup at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan, marks the 10th meeting between the schools. The Scarlet Knights prevailed in the first meeting during their Big Ten debut in 2014, but it's been all Wolverines since, with Michigan winning eight straight. And once again, the Wolverines are healthy favorites heading into Saturday.
How to watch Michigan vs. Rutgers live
Date: Saturday, Sept. 23 | Time: Noon ET
Location: Michigan Stadium -- Ann Arbor, Michigan
TV: Big Ten Network | Live stream: fubo (Try for free)
Michigan vs. Rutgers: Need to know
Jim Harbaugh returns: Harbaugh made headlines in the offseason when it was revealed the Michigan coach misled NCAA investigators during a probe into alleged recruiting violations that occurred from the prolonged COVID-19 dead period. After talks between the two sides on a negotiated resolution -- one that would have entailed a four-game suspension for Harbaugh -- College Football Playoff berth., Michigan took action by imposing a three-game suspension on Harbaugh with hopes of avoiding more severe action from the NCAA moving forward. No final ruling has been announced by the NCAA, but Michigan will have its coach back on the sidelines for the time being in its pursuit of a third consecutive Big Ten championship and
Turnover concerns for J.J. McCarthy? Overall, McCarthy has done well in limiting turnovers as Michigan's starting quarterback, which is why his three interceptions committed against Bowling Green in Week 3 raised eyebrows. It matched McCarthy's interception total from Michigan's first 13 games combined last season before he committed a pair of pick-sixes in the Wolverines' 51-45 College Football Playoff semifinal loss to TCU. With that, McCarthy has now been intercepted five times in his last four starts. It may very well prove to be just a blip in the road for the former five-star prospect, whose upside is clear. His uncharacteristic performance against Bowling Green didn't keep the Wolverines from cruising to a 31-6 victory, but that type of display could bite Michigan against other opponents.
Rutgers looking to clear a hurdle: For the third consecutive season, Rutgers is off to a 3-0 start. That didn't mean much the past two seasons as the Scarlet Knights finished below. 500 both times, and reaching 4-0 for the first time since 2012 will be an uphill battle given the next opponent. The Scarlet Knights have yet to win in the Big House, though they were competitive in their most recent visit, a 20-13 loss in 2021 in which they blanked Michigan in the second half. A Rutgers defense that has averaged 10 points allowed through three games will need to be opportunistic at minimum for Scarlet Knights to stand a chance Saturday, while the offense must limit the types of mistakes that let previous upset bids escape them. Rutgers quarterback Gavin Wimsatt has done his part there thus far, passing for only three touchdowns but remaining free of any interceptions.
Michigan vs. Rutgers prediction, pick
Odds via SportsLine consensus
There's a reason why Michigan has won eight consecutive meetings with Rutgers, and unless the Wolverines beat themselves, nothing has changed enough to suggest that streak will end for a team that hasn't lost a home game since 2020. It wouldn't be a stunner if the Scarlet Knights keep things close for a generous portion of the first half based on how the past two meetings have gone, but Michigan has all the talent needed on both sides of the ball for them to pull away after enough blows have been exchanged. Not to mention, the Wolverines may have a little extra motivation to prove something this weekend after Bowling Green hung around longer than expected in Week 3. That's potentially bad news for Rutgers coach Greg Schiano and company. Prediction: Michigan -24
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