The Michigan Wolverines (5-2, 2-2) are out of the AP Top 25 for the first time in two years after getting handled by the No. 2 Penn State Nittany Lions 42-13. The maize and blue will have the chance to bounce back on Saturday when they host the Rutgers Scarlet Knights on Homecoming Weekend.
The Scarlet Knights (3-4, 2-2) are coming off of two straight wins after losing four if their first five games. The team is looking to qualify for a bowl game for the first time since 2014 when they qualified for the Quick Lane Bowl.
The Rutgers offense is currently led by Giovanni Rescigno . The junior quarterback has started the past two games, throwing for 199 yards and a touchdown this season. The running attack is headlined by Gus Edwards who leads the team with 107 carries for 487 yards and five touchdowns. The Scarlet Knight attack also includes senior Robert Martin and freshman Raheem Blackshear.
The receiving core is led by senior Jamarion Grant whose 168 yards are best on the team. The unit is rounded out by junior tight end Jerome Washington, who leads the Scarlet Knights with 19 receptions, and senior Damon Mitchell, who has nine receptions for 122 yards.
Players to Watch
Many Michigan defenders were scorched by the backfield duo of Trace McSorley and Saquon Barkley in last weeks game, perhaps none more so than fifth year senior linebacker Mike McCray.
McCray, the only returning defensive starter from last year, just couldn’t seem to figure out Penn State’s offense throughout the game. When McCray when right, Penn State went left. When McCray went left, Penn State went right.
This upcoming game will allow him the opportunity to reestablish himself as the head of this Michigan defense, or at the very least, help him get his confidence back.
Since transferring from Houston in 2015, O’Korn has started four games for the maize and blue. In those four games, he’s averaged 120 passing yards and a 54.8% pass-completion rating and has not thrown a touchdown.
With every underwhelming game he has, the voices of angry Wolverines fans get louder and louder and while the lack of offensive production doesn’t fall entirely on him, he certainly doesn’t do much to help.
The ice is only getting thinner for O’Korn, and if things don’t get any better, it’ll be time to look at who else can fill in behind center at least until Wilton Speight comes back. Redshirt freshman Brandon Peters appears to be the next man up with true freshman Dylan McCaffrey, younger brother of Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey, serves as the third stringer.
When Michigan lost so many of its upper classmen to the NFL Draft and graduation, the receiving core became an area of concern in Ann Arbor. Without guys like Amara Darboh and Jehu Chesson, who can the team rely on to make big plays down the field?
So far, the answer is (drum roll) nobody.
While some receivers have emerged as frequent targets, no one really stands out as an elite pass-catcher that can serve as a failsafe when needed.
Given that most of these receivers are young and lack experience, its important for senior Grant Perry (who leads the team in receptions and yards) to show these receivers what it takes to have a big role in an offense that needs a boost.
The game can be seen live this Saturday, Oct. 28 at 12 p.m. eastern on the Big Ten Network and on the BTN2Go app.