Michigan was a 20-point favorite against Rutgers and looked well on the way to covering in the first half. The Wolverines’ offense stalled, however, and the Scarlet Knights played hard to the end in nearly pulling out a victory for head coach Greg Schiano.
Several of the coach’s decisions backfired on him, including going for it on fourth down with some trickery twice. They got stoned on two occasions, and Rutgers went home with a 20-13 loss.
“Tough game. The guys played really, really hard,” Schiano said. “We came out here and we said we were going to find out how we stack up, so we know — a little bit short.
“They never let up. They kept believing. They didn’t judge, because it could have got ugly there at 20-3. And they just kept playing, and we certainly had our opportunities to win the game. That’s what hurts. Nobody’s here for moral victories … it hurts a lot.”
But he credited the Wolverines for punching first and holding on.
“Hats off to Michigan — I’m at fault for not saying that first,” Schiano said. “That’s a good football team. They played well, and they had great concepts. Their coaches did a great job.
“I didn’t help our team enough today. I could’ve helped our team more. I’m disappointed in myself. And that’s something I have to examine … we talked and felt like we could get [the fourth down conversion]. Honestly, I thought we had it there. We were re 17-3 and not really moving the ball well at this point, thought it was a chance to keep the drive alive … hindsight is 20/20, but at that point we hadn’t done a ton. We were wrong.”
Rutgers crept more players into the box in the second half, but that wasn’t really different than the first half, he added — they just did it better. Guys were settling in, and Michigan didn’t respond.
“The second half, I don’t know if you play much better defense than that,” he said. “Seven plays I think they had the whole third quarter. If you told me they’d have 110 or 115 yards rushing, I’d say we probably won the game.
“So, we made too many mistakes to win, and we almost still won. We’ve got to figure out why we made them and have got to put them away, coaching and playing.”
Regardless, he said, Michigan showed plenty to impress him.
“I can only talk about what I studied on film leading up to the game, because I have the worst seat in the house out there, on the sideline,” Schiano said. “I like what they’re doing.
“I think defensively — I’m a big admirer of the coach who was running the defense here last year, too. I think they’re both excellent coaches … just a different way of skinning a cat. They did a good job today, that’s for sure.”