The following is the next in a series of fictional game stories predicting the outcome of Michigan’s 2017 football season.
Routing Rutgers, Again
Wolverines rebound against meager foe
Ann Arbor, Mich. – Coming off its first loss of the season, Michigan Coach Jim Harbaugh said at his weekly press conference he was eager to see how his young team would respond.
He shouldn’t have, for the Wolverines were hosting arguably the worst power five team in the country for homecoming. Now, the 2017 meeting wasn’t quite as brutal as last year’s, when the Wolverines scored more touchdowns than Rutgers had first downs. But it was a beat down nevertheless.
The Scarlet Knights actually scored some points this year, seven in fact. So that’s progress, as is the fact they surrendered “only” 58 points to 10th-ranked Michigan *they gave up 78 last year). The Wolverines are now 7-1, and will see where they stand when the initial College Football Playoff rankings released on Tuesday.
“I thought we played angry to start the game,” said Wilton Speight, who returned to his starting quarterback duties after sitting out last week with an undisclosed injury, and threw two touchdown passes in just one half of play. “As Coach Harbaugh says, ‘losing leaves a bad taste in your mouth, and the only mouthwash is winning.’ So we wanted to spit last week out as soon as we could.”
Yes, Speight was smiling when he said that line, in case you were wondering. Although locker room legend here at Michigan says that is an actual Harbaugh quote.
Michigan’s performance was perfectly balanced, scoring four touchdowns apiece on the ground and through the air. Both Speight and Brandon Peters had a pair of touchdown passes. All of the Wolverines rushing touchdowns were scored by different players—Chris Evans, Ty Isaac, Kareem Walker, and Karan Higdon. Maurice Hurst had a sack in the end zone for a safety, so the defense was heard from as well.
Oh, and the special teams thought it also had a touchdown on a Nate Johnson punt return. But it was nullified by a controversial “roughing the snapper” penalty on the Wolverines, which Harbaugh was still fuming about in the post-game.
“We actually had that call go for us a few a times last year, so we’re pretty well versed on what it is and isn’t,” Harbaugh said. “That was such a seamless punt return, too. Great blocking, Nate made one guy miss, and he was gone. From a coaching standpoint, we’ll count that as good as a team when we get together to watch the film. And I’m sending that call to the league office on Monday for clarification.”
That “controversial” call wasn’t the real drama, though, in an overall ho-hum affair. Those remaining in the stands at the end as the rain started to come down wanted to see if the Scarlet Knights could actually score this year.
The Scarlet Knights drove down to Michigan’s 3-yard line, and had a fourth-and-goal with less than 10 seconds left. To his credit, Rutgers Coach Chris Ash elected to go for the touchdown rather than a chip-shot, but tacky, field goal to avoid the goose egg.
It paid off, as Giovanni Rescigno hit Janarioan Grant with a back shoulder fade in the end zone. The Scarlet Knights scored their first points on Michigan since 2014.
“I wanted to send a message to our team that we keep competing until the final whistle,” Ash said.
The Wolverines return to the friendly confines of Michigan Stadium next week to battle Minnesota for the Little Brown Jug. The Golden Gophers fell to 6-2 after an upset loss at Iowa on Saturday.