Chris Ash's first season as Rutgers' head coach has been far from easy. In Week 1, his Scarlet Knights traveled to No. 5 Washinton and lost, 48-13. Then, last week, they were shut out by No. 2 Ohio State, 58-0.
The schedule won't let up on Saturday. Rutgers (3-2, 1-1 Big Ten) is set to take on No. 4 Michigan in a night game in Piscataway.
Are three top-five teams in six weeks too much too soon for the first-year coach?
"That is a challenging schedule. I don't know if there are a lot of coaches out there who would say, 'I'd like to sign up for that. Let's put that together.' But it is what it is," Ash said Tuesday on the weekly Big Ten coaches' teleconference. "It is a great measuring stick for where we are at."
Michigan (5-0, 2-0 Big Ten) also snatched six of New Jersey's top recruits for its 2016 class. Around the same time, Ash spearheaded a campaign to "fence the garden" and keep the Garden State's top players at home.
Despite grumblings that the recruiting battle made Michigan a rival, Ash said he understands the pull of top programs.
"Anybody who recruits at a high level is going to recruit nationwide for the best players, and whether that is Michigan, Ohio State, LSU, Alabama, doesn't matter," Ash said. " If there are great players in this state, the traditional college football powers are going to recruit them. I understand that. ... It is our job to recruit them to stay."
At Penn State, little hype for Maryland game
In the past two years, Maryland's first two in the Big Ten, the Penn State matchups came with questions about whether the game constituted a rivalry.
But the Terrapins, the Nittany Lions' homecoming opponent on Saturday, aren't traveling to Happy Valley with quite the same hype this year.
"I think, this is a conference game for us, this is a conference game for them, and both teams are excited to play," Penn State coach James Franklin said. "I think a lot of that before was, again, the fact that we hadn't played in a number of years and how close [geographically] we are together."
Jim Harbaugh proud of D.J. Durkin's success at Maryland
The undefeated Terps are not to be taken lightly.
No one knows that better than Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh. Maryland coach D.J. Durkin used to be Harbaugh's defensive coordinator.
Harbaugh said he stays in touch with Durkin as much as possible with their busy schedules and has watched about three Maryland games so far.