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Detroit News scouting report: Michigan football vs. Rutgers

Rutgers at No. 19 Michigan

Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. Saturday Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor

TV/radio: ABC/950

Records: Both teams 3-0

Line: Michigan by 21

Series: Michigan leads 6-1 (last meeting, Michigan 48-42, Nov. 21, 2020)

Outlook: Michigan has won six straight in the series.

Angelique S. Chengelis of The Detroit News breaks down the Wolverines’ Week 4 matchup with Rutgers:

Key matchup


Melton is tied for 19th nationally and tied for fourth in the Big Ten with 20 receptions this season, and in last week’s game against Delaware, he had 125 receiving yards and scored his 10th career receiving touchdown. The 5-foot-11, 195-pound senior was honorable mention All-Big Ten last season and ranked third in the conference with nine total touchdowns (six receiving, two rushing, one punt return). He is facing a Michigan secondary that is coming off its first game with an interception, a deflection to Gemon Green last week. The Wolverines are 31st nationally in pass defense efficiency and will face their biggest test of the season from Melton.

Scarlet Knights to watch

Noah Vedral, QB: The 6-foot-1, 200-pound senior quarterback has started 10 games for Rutgers. Vedral ranks 14th nationally and third in the Big Ten with a 71.6 completion percentage and has nine completions of at least 20 yards.  He rushed for a career-high 71 yards against Temple and threw a 40-yard touchdown pass. Last season, he ranked third in the Big with a 61.5 completion percentage (136-for-221) and fifth with nine passing touchdowns, and seventh with 206.6 yards of total offense per game. Against Michigan in a triple-overtime loss last season, Vedral passed for a career-high 381 yards, eighth-most in a game in program history.

Aron Cruickshank, WR: Cruickshank, a 5-10, 170-pound receiver, ranks 38th nationally with 120.7 all-purpose yards per game — he has 362 total yards with 119 on kickoff returns, 141 on punt returns, 72 yards receiving and 30 rushing so far this season. He had a career-high 206 all-purpose yards against Temple. He was Big Ten Co-Special Teams Player of the Week after returning a punt 62 yards for a touchdown against Delaware. He has five kick returns for scores and will tie the NCAA record if he records three more. He had a career-high eight receptions for 84 yards against Michigan last year. Cruickshank played in 27 games for Wisconsin the previous two seasons and was second-team All-Big Ten in 2019.

Avery Young, S: The veteran 6-1, 205-pound defensive back has started 33 games and this year moved from cornerback to safety. He will lead a secondary that is expected to be without starting corner Max Melton and backup corner Chris Long, both suspended after an arrest this week for a paintball gun incident on campus. Young, a 6-1 205-pound junior recorded his first career sack in the win at Syracuse, and also had seven solo tackles and a forced fumble. He led the Big Ten with three forced fumbles last season and was named honorable mention All-Big Ten after also recording 58 tackles with 3.5 for loss and three pass breakups. Young leads the current roster with 19 career passes defended — 18 breakups, one interception.

Facts and figures

Protecting the ball, forcing turnovers: Rutgers ranks second in the nation with a plus-8 turnover margin and is one of four teams nationally that have not lost a turnover this season. The Scarlet Knights last had three straight turnover-free games in 2009 and if they don’t turn over the ball against Michigan, that will be four straight games for the first time since 1993.

Being careful: Rutgers is third nationally with just seven penalties against. The 2.33 per game is the best average nationally. The Scarlet Knights are fourth nationally in fewest penalty yards per game averaging 28.3. Michigan is tied for 30th in penalties against and is averaging 5.33.

Oh no you don’t: Rutgers has not allowed a score in the first or fourth quarters through three games this season (Temple, Syracuse and Delaware) had has outscored its opponents, 123-34. The Scarlet Knights’ 89-point advantage is the program’s best through three games since 2007. Rutgers and Michigan each have yielded an average 11.3 points a game, tied for eighth nationally. The Wolverines have outscored opponents 141-34 (107 points).

Twitter: @chengelis