Things got out of hand quick for Rutgers in its 78-0 blowout loss to No. 4 Michigan.
It was the worst shutout for the Scarlet Knights (2-4, 0-3) since an 82-0 loss to Princeton in 1888.
“The whole thing’s on me,” said head coach Chris Ash. “I’ve got to do a better job of getting the team ready, as simple as that.”
Rutgers was unable to generate any offense after three stops to open the game on defense. The Wolverines (6-0, 2-0) drew first blood midway through the first quarter and never looked back.
“It’s just something where it’s a collective effort — special teams, offense and defense,” said senior safety Anthony Cioffi. “But we just have to do our third and continue to play hard all four quarters.”
After it forced two punts and a fumble, the Rutgers defense could no longer keep up with the Michigan offense. Jabrill Peppers jolted the unit when the Paramus (N.J.) Catholic product ripped off a 63-yard run on a direct snap in the first quarter.
The Wolverines scored on the very next play and claimed the momentum they did not relinquish. At the end of the half, Rutgers had one total yard, zero first downs and nine punts.
It finished the game with 39 total yards, two first downs in the fourth quarter and 16 punts. The only first down of the game came with less than nine minutes to play on a 12-yard run by true freshman running back Trey Sneed.
“You don’t really worry about stats in a game,” said junior quarterback Zach Allen. “But clearly, you know that’s going through your head. … And it’s so frustrating. It’s so frustrating because you know these guys give it their all every play and just didn’t happen.
Junior quarterback Chris Laviano completed just one of his eight passes for six yards before Allen replaced him in the first quarter. The TCU graduate transfer did not fare much better the rest of the game. He completed one pass for minus-1 yard on 10 attempts as the offense continued to struggle.
“It’s a very good defense,” Allen said. “Run a lot of stuff, had a lot of different blitzes, have a lot of good players on their team and we tried to slide some ways and just kind of didn’t happen for the best of us.”
Sophomore running back Robert Martin was held to 29 yards on 11 carries. Rutgers totaled 34 yards rushing on 36 attempts, an average of .94 yards.
Michigan had two rushers go over the century mark. Chris Evans ran for 153 yards on 11 carries and Karan Higdon had 114 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries.
Rutgers hopes its fortunes take a turn for the better when it returns to the field for Homecoming against Illinois. Since the start of Big Ten play, conference opponents outscored Rutgers, 150-7.
“Nothing surprises me,” Ash said. “Nobody said it was going to be easy. I never came here and promised any wins. Never said we couldn’t win games either. I never did that. We knew the process, the plan. We’re going to stick with that plan. We’re going to keep going. We’re going to recruit, we’re going to develop, we’re going to keep coaching just like we did when we first got here.”