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Michigan, Rutgers looking to end 3-game losing streaks

PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) — Rutgers has been waiting for the day when its football program is on the same footing with some of the big boys of the Big Ten.

It’s happened this year. The Scarlet Knights and Michigan are right there with each other heading into Saturday night’s game at SHI Stadium.

Unfortunately, they are near the bottom of the conference standings with 1-3 records and riding three-game losing streaks.

It’s the worst start for the Wolverines since 1967, when they began 1-5 and finished 4-6. Surprisingly, there is new hope at Rutgers with Greg Schiano back for a second stint as coach and the team being more competitive.

“We’re never going to stop. We’re never going to slow down,” Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said. “We’re never going to feel sorry for ourselves. We’re going to keep pushing and keep attacking.”

The Wolverines are coming off a 49-11 loss to No. 10 Wisconsin, their most lopsided loss at home since 1935.

Rutgers comes into the game off a disappointing 23-20 loss to Illinois. The Scarlet Knights held a 10-point second-half lead and saw quarterback Noah Vedral throw three second-half interceptions. He might be on a short leash this weekend.

“Some look at the record and it’s still the Michigan football team, they’re very, very talented, they run very, extremely well,” Schiano said.

Under center

Michigan has started Joe Milton at quarterback in each of its four games this season, but his job is in jeopardy after throwing as many touchdowns (four) as interceptions. He has completed 59% of his passes and averaged 242 yards passing. Milton was replaced in last week’s loss by Cade McNamara, who seemed to provide a spark as he capped his first drive with a touchdown pass. Harbaugh said the two will compete for the starting job in practice this week.

MSU-Maryland canceled

The Big Ten game between Maryland and Michigan State was canceled Thursday after a COVID-19 outbreak on the Terrapins resulted in a positive test for coach Michael Locksley.

It’s the second straight cancellation for the Terrapins, who were scheduled to face Ohio State last week before several players on the team contracted the coronavirus. Maryland (2-1) has not played since beating Penn State on Nov. 7. The Terrapins were scheduled to host Michigan State on Saturday.

Locksley tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday and is isolating at home.

“I am gutted for our team and for our fans,” Locksley said in a statement. “This team is eager to play and compete and continue the growth we’ve seen this season. This virus is testing our players and coaches right now, but I have no doubt that we will emerge as a stronger unit for having gone through this together.

“As for me personally, I am feeling strong, with only minor symptoms. I will continue to lead this program virtually and our game preparations for Indiana (on Nov. 28) will begin immediately.”

Over the past seven days, 15 Maryland players have tested positive. There were seven positive cases among staff over that same time period.

Later Thursday, the Mountain West announced San Jose State at Fresno State was canceled because of COVID-19 cases and contact tracing with the Bulldogs.

That is the third Mountain West game this week to be called off, joining Utah State at Wyoming, and UNLV at Colorado State.

Overall, 16 out of 62 games involving Bowl Subdivision teams scheduled for this week have been called off. Last week, 15 of the 59 games scheduled were not played.

Also Thursday, Pittsburgh’s pandemic-delayed game at Georgia Tech was moved to Dec. 10.

The game, originally scheduled for Nov. 14, was postponed due to problems in both programs with positive COVID-19 tests and contact tracing. The game was rescheduled for Dec. 12 before being pushed back two days to the Thursday night date.

Georgia Tech is off this week after its game at Miami scheduled for Saturday was pushed back to Dec. 19 due to COVID-19 problems in the Miami program.

The novel coronavirus also began creeping into college basketball as three men’s teams altered early-season plans.

DePaul canceled its first three games because of a COVID-19 outbreak within the program, the school announced Thursday. The Blue Demons paused all activities and called off games against Western Illinois, Chicago State and Alcorn State, pushing back the season opener to Dec. 6 at Iowa State. The school would not identify those affected.

“Flexibility and patience will continue to be paramount this season as we navigate these unique times,” athletic director DeWayne Peevy said in a statement.

St. Bonaventure and Albany also paused men’s basketball because of COVID-19 issues, and both teams canceled plans to play in the Mohegan Sun “Bubbleville” games starting next week in Connecticut.

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