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Week 13 Game Preview: Michigan State vs. Rutgers

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Michigan State’s regular season concludes in Piscataway

NCAA Football: Rutgers at Michigan State Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

So, there is one game left in the regular season, and one team standing in the way of the Michigan State Spartans football program completely flipping its record from 2016. Michigan State will take on the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at 4 p.m. on Saturday at High Point Solutions Stadium and a 9-3 finish is on the line for the Spartans.

No matter what happens on Saturday and in the bowl game, I think the Spartans have already exceeded the expectations of many fans. This season was a success for a team that many pundits weren’t sure would even reach a bowl game. However, I don’t think a loss to a bad Rutgers team is acceptable.

One last regular season preview. Let’s go!

Tale of the Tape:

Michigan State:

Record — 8-3, (6-2 Big Ten)

Offense — 373.5 total yards per game (8th in Big Ten), 214.8 passing yards per game, 158.7 rushing yards per game, 21.5 points per game

Defense — 314.6 yards allowed per game (4th in Big Ten), 205.5 passing yards allowed per game, 109.2 rushing yards allowed per game, 21.5 points allowed per game

Rutgers:

Record — 4-7 (3-5 Big Ten)

Offense — 276.4 total yards per game (12th in Big Ten), 117.2 passing yards per game, 159.2 rushing yards per game, 19 points per game

Defense — 395.6 yards allowed per game (11th in Big Ten), 216.3 passing yards allowed per game, 179.4 rushing yards allowed per game, 27.3 points allowed per game

Quick takeaways: It’s no secret Michigan State’s offense has sputtered lately. Yes, there was rain/snow/sleet last week, but in the Big Ten, Michigan State is only ahead of Rutgers and Illinois in scoring offense. The Spartans are also down to eighth in the conference in total offense. Luckily, though, Rutgers offense is abysmal. The Scarlet Knights rank last in both total offense and passing offense and 13th out of 14 teams in scoring offense. Rutgers has used three different quarterbacks this season, and they’ve combined for a mere six touchdown passes and nine interceptions. MSU still has the No. 4 ranked defense in the conference and No. 2 ranked rushing defense, so the Spartans will force Rutgers to throw the ball — which likely won’t end well for the Scarlet Knights.


Series History

All-time record: Michigan State leads 5-3

Last Spartans win: Nov. 12, 2016 (49-0)

Last Scarlet Knights win: Sept. 4, 2004 (19-14)

Biggest Spartans win: 49-0 (2016)

Biggest Scarlet Knights win: 14-7 (1991)

Current Streak: Michigan State with three straight wins

Longest winning streak: Michigan State’s current three-game winning streak (2014-2016)

Quick takeaways: Rutgers’ last victory against Michigan State came in 2004, and the Scarlet Knights have never beaten the Spartans by more than a touchdown and extra point. MSU has outscored Rutgers 125-27 during its current three-game winning streak. The Spartans are 2-1 in games played in New Jersey, having last won there in 2015. Rutgers finished just 1-7 in Big Ten play that season, but actually kept that game close, during MSU’s magical 2015 run, losing 31-24. This series is still relatively new, as this will only be the ninth time ever that MSU and Rutgers will square off.


Previous Matchups:

Michigan State: It was raining, then snowing, then sleeting, then...slushing (is that a term?) from the sky, but the Spartans took care of Maryland 17-7. The pass game never gained any traction in such conditions, but the Spartans took advantage of Maryland’s soft rush defense and gained 271 of their 291 total yards on the ground. LJ Scott carried the rock 29 times for 147 yards and a touchdown. Gerald Holmes and Brian Lewerke each added 60-plus yards and the Spartans easily controlled time of possession.

Rutgers: Rutgers was dominated by Indiana, as the final score showed a 41-0 thrashing. Rutgers allowed two separate Hoosiers to surpass 100 yards on the ground in Morgan Ellison and Cole Gest — both of whom found the end zone as well. Rutgers still hasn’t figured out its quarterback situation. Warren, Michigan product Giovanni Rescigno completed eight of 14 passes for just 67 yards, while Jonathan Lewis came in and completed three out of 10 passes for 36 yards.


Key Players

Michigan State:

Brian Lewerke: 123 QB rating, 2,358 passing yards, 58.1 percent completion rate, 16 TDs, seven INTs, 433 rushing yards, four rushing touchdowns

LJ Scott: 164 rushes, 731 yards, 4.5 yards per carry, six TDs, 17 catches for 108 yards and one receiving TD

Felton Davis III: 45 catches, 586 yards, 13 yards per catch, eight TDs

Joe Bachie: 92 tackles, 7.5 tackle for loss, 1.5 sacks, two interceptions, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, one pass defended

Andrew Dowell: 70 tackles, three tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, three passes defended, one fumble forced

Rutgers:

Giovanni Rescigno: 98 QB rating, 517 passing yards, 48.5 percent completion rate, two TDs, one INT, one rushing touchdowns

Gus Edwards: 160 rushes, 703 yards, 4.4 yards per carry, six TDs, 13 catches for 103 yards and one receiving touchdown

Jerome Washington: 27 catches, 273 yards, 10.1 yards per catch, one TD

Trevor Morris: 100 tackles, six tackle for loss, 0.5 sacks, one pass defended

Deonte Roberts: 79 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, one pass defended


Game Info

Time: 4 p.m. EST

TV Channel: Fox

Location: High Point Solutions Stadium, Piscataway

Weather expectations: 53 degrees at kickoff, mostly cloudy

Odds: Michigan State -13.5

Over/Under: 41

Rival blog: On the Banks (not of the Red Cedar).


Expectations:

Well, there is no precipitation expected to be falling out of the sky, so that generally does not bode well for our Spartans, but I’ll be honest, I am not too worried about the Scarlet Knights. Gus Edwards is going to have to carry this team, and he’s a decent back, but I don’t think he’ll be able to have a ton of success against Michigan State’s tough rush defense. Who are we going to see at quarterback for the Scarlet Knights? Is it Rescigno, Lewis or graduate transfer Kyle Bolin (unlikely). My guess is Rescigno, but I don’t see any of these quarterbacks having much success in this game.

Rutgers will have to lean on its rushing attack and hope that Michigan State’s offensive struggles continue. One thing Rescigno has done well is limit turnovers. He has only thrown one pick and turned the ball over three times total in eight games. Rutgers’ only hope in this one is to force MSU into turnovers and drain the clock, while holding onto the ball itself.

I think MSU wins this game with ease and the offense shows up again. I say the Spartans win by 17.

Who wins the season finale? Let us know, TOC fam.

Poll

Who wins the final game of the regular season?

This poll is closed

  • 6%
    Rutgers
    (7 votes)
  • 93%
    Michigan State
    (94 votes)
101 votes total Vote Now