The No. 17 Michigan Wolverines played host to the Rutgers Scarlet Knights and gave the fans a 49-16 victory. The Maize and Blue offense put up 487 yards of offense behind 341 total yards and three touchdowns from quarterback Jake Rudock.
On the first play from scrimmage, just 13 seconds into the game, Rudock, pitched the ball to Drake Johnson, who fumbled. However, after Rutgers recovered, the call was overturned because the pitch was a forward pass. Michigan kept the ball and marched down the field.
The Wolverines (7-2, 4-1 B1G) had the first scoring opportunity after Johnson broke loose for a huge yardage reception from Rudock. It was a nice drive, but Kenny Allen, a senior, missed a 37-yard field goal and Rutgers took over offensively.
The Scarlet Knights (3-6, 1-5 B1G) first drive stalled as the Wolverine defense forced a three-and-out. Starting quarterback Chris Laviano struggled to get anything going early in the event. On the drive, Jourdan Lewis tied the single-season record at Michigan for most pass breakups in a season with 18.
After Rudock completed a 32-yard pass to fullback Sione Houma down the sideline, he connected with Jehu Chesson for a 13-yard score with 8:03 left in the first quarter. The extra point from Allen made it 7-0 in favor of Michigan.
A huge 54-yard gain up the middle looked like a touchdown for Robert Martin. However, Jabrill Peppers came out of nowhere to tackle the sophomore running back at the 15-yard line of Michigan.
Martin carried the ball 10 times for 81 yards in the loss. He could not find the end zone, but was productive all night. Michigan's defense was just too good for the offense of Rutgers to handle.
Eventually, Rutgers found the board, but the Wolverine defense kept them from six. Kyle Federico drilled a 32-yard field goal with 4:43 to play in the first quarter for the Scarlet Knights.
At the Big House, Michigan found the board once again. Rudock improvised on a play that was broke down and turned it into a touchdown. The fifth-year senior rolled left and dove for a touchdown with 15 seconds left in the first quarter. Michigan took a 14-3 lead over Rutgers.
Rudock continued to shine with a 17-yard pass to his tight end, Jake Butt, to get Michigan across mid-field with 13:40 to play before halftime. The passing play sparked a seven-play, 60-yard touchdown drive.
Peppers capped off the drive with a lateral toss form Rudock in the backfield, but he broke multiple tackles to find his way into the end zone from 18 yards out. With 10:42 to go in the first half, Michigan took a 21-3 lead.
"I thought that play was trapped behind the line of scrimmage," Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said.
It was just the second touchdown for the sophomore, who has been used much more on the offensive end as of late. Peppers, who has become an offensive threat, has still been a key player on kick returns and on defense.
The more dynamic he gets, the more of a threat Michigan becomes on a national level. While one player normally can not do it all, Peppers does. Look for Peppers as an early Heisman Trophy candidate next season.
Rutgers waisted no time in bouncing back from the Wolverines previous score. Janarion Grant returned Allen's kickoff for a 98-yard touchdown to pull Rutgers within 11 points.
Grant returned five kicks for 170 yards and one punt for 67 yards. The junior was the standout player for the Scarlet Knights, even though they lost by a large margin.
It was the third kick return touchdown of the season for Grant, who is now tied with Evan Berry of the Tennessee Volunteers for the FBS lead.
From outside the 30-yard line of Rutgers, Rudock connected with Amara Darboh to the one-yard line. A defender for the Scarlet Knights blew an assignment, which allowed Darboh to find himself wide open down the left side of the field.
Johnson cashed in for Michigan with a one-yard carry for a touchdown on third-and-goal. The score with 8:06 left in the first half gave the Maize and Blue a 28-10 lead.
Junior receiver Vance Matthews, a walk-on for Rutgers, nabbed his first catch of the fall for an 18-yard gain to the Michigan 25-yard line. Andre Patton, not Matthews, led Rutgers with three receptions for 35 yards.
The catch from Matthews set up a 29-yard field goal from Federico, which was good. With four minutes to play in the half, Michigan held the lead, 28-13.
At the 2:00 minute mark, Michigan decided to add another touchdown. Rudock made a beautiful throw to Darboh, who used his strong hands to hold on with a defender on his hip for an eight-yard score. After the extra point, the Wolverines took a 35-13 lead.
Jarrod Wilson, with just over a minute to play in the half, intercepted Laviano to stop Rutgers, as the Scarlet Knights were inside the red zone.
Rutgers forced a three-and-out, which forced Blake O'Neill to punt for Michigan. On the punt return, there was a targeting call on J.J. Denman. That penalty was reversed, so the 67-yard return for Grant counted.
At the Michigan nine-yard line, the first pass from Laviano sailed incomplete with four seconds left. To end the first half, Federico's 27-yard field goal went off the post, but eventually fell through the uprights.
Michigan headed to the locker room with a 35-16 lead over Rutgers. At the half, Rudock had thrown for 237 yards and two touchdowns. The quarterback added to those numbers in the second half.
The second half started with the Michigan defense as Chris Wormley made his third sack of the day, this time a loss of 11-yards to force a punt.
On the first play for Michigan, Rudock hit Butt for a a 56-yard gain to the Rutgers four-yard line. While Butt did not record a touchdown, he led the team with four receptions for 102 yards.
Seconds later, De'Veon Smith carried the ball for a four-yard score. Rudock converted a two-point conversion with his feet, giving Michigan a 43-16 lead with 11:40 to play in the third quarter.
Smith ran 15 times for 73 yards and a score. Johnson scored a touchdown and added 27 yards to the outstanding offense. Peppers had eight yards on the afternoon, along with one-of-two carries into the end zone.
Michigan cashed the checks once again as Allen made a 34-yard field goal to cap a seven-play, 60-yard drive for the Maize and Blue. The field goal gave the Wolverines a 46-16 lead.
With 2:39 left in the third quarter, Laviano's pass went incomplete, which forced Rutgers to go for it on fourth-and-seven. The pass was incomplete and Michigan's defense held their opponents, once again.
Lewis broke up the pass from Laviano to Carlton Agudosi, which gave the junior defensive back the University of Michigan single-season record for most pass breakups with 19, whiched passes a record held by Marlin Jackson and Leon Hall.
"It feels pretty good knowing all the legends they've had around here," Lewis said.
On the ensuing drive for Michigan, Smith took a carry for 19-yards because of outstanding blocking from the offensive line. After, the junior ran for another first down, which was the last play of the third quarter.
The Wolverines controlled the ball at the 16-yard line of Rutgers to start the fourth quarter. Believe it or not, the Wolverines scored again, giving themselves a 49-16 lead with 13:29 left in the game on a 28-yard field goal from Allen.
With 11:06 left in the game, Harbaugh pulled Rudock from the game and replaced him with sophomore Wilton Speight. The backup quarterback was given the second-string offensive line.
"He was on fire," Harbaugh said. "He had a great game, making all the appropriate throws, all the right reads, all day long on a windy, blustery day."
Rudock finished 18-for-25 with 337 passing yards and a touchdown, along with one carry for four yards and a touchdown. The fifth-year senior surpassed his career-high in passing yards, which was previously 322 yards with the Iowa Hawkeyes.
"He's the ultimate competitor," said Butt. "That's pretty clear at this point."
On the next drive for Rutgers, they replaced the Laviano, the starting quarterback. While Rudock had an outstanding afternoon, Laviano did not. The sophomore completed 11-of-26 passes for 97 yards and an interception. He was replaced by Hayden Rettig, who is a sophomore.
With 3:51 left to play, Michigan put an exclamation point on the solid defensive effort with the teams fourth sack of the game, this time it was Taco Charlton with an eight-yard sack on Rettig.
Speight went 0-for-1 passing, but took the final knee to end the game. Even though the backup finalized the game, it was Rudock that led the Wolverines all game.
Michigan improved to 7-2 on the season with an outstanding 49-16 win over Rutgers. The Wolverines will travel to face the Indiana Hoosiers next weekend.