EAST LANSING — Michigan State will host Rutgers on Senior Day in Spartan Stadium. The Spartans (6-5, 4-4 B1G) look to close out the regular season with seven wins. Recently, MSU fell to the Cornhuskers, 9-6, in disappointing fashion.
The Spartan offense has failed to score a touchdown since playing Maryland and have only achieved 12 points (four field goals) in the last two weeks.
Since 2007, the Spartans have won less than eight games three times (not counting 2016). All came within the first five years of his career when he was clearly building a program. Fans and analysts alike more than understood what he was trying to accomplish, but with Dantonio in his 12th year as head coach fans are obviously going to be less reasonable. He’s given himself and his team certain expectations — the bar will always be getting back to winning Big Ten Championships and reaching the College Football Playoff.
Be that as it may, Dantonio knows “he can’t turn back the clock,” it’s up to his team to keep moving forward. All MSU can do is continue to try and win football games when given the opportunity.
“I’m looking for a response. From our coaches. From our staff. That's the focus of this (Rutgers) game,” said Dantonio. “We’ll come to play.”
Saturday marks the 10th meeting between these two schools. The Spartans lead the overall series, 6-3, including a 4-0 record in Big Ten play. MSU is 3-2 against Rutgers at home (2-0 B1G). Last season, Michigan State blew out the Scarlet Knights, 40-7, in the 2017 regular season finale.
The Scarlet Knights (1-10, 0-8 B1G) are having one of the worst years anyone has seen in quite some time. They have yet to win a conference game and much like the Spartans, are also juggling their own quarterback situation.
To put it briefly, Rutgers runs a pro-style scheme under John McNulty with multiple looks. They have six touchdown drives of at least 10 plays, including two reaching 13. They’ve managed to run for 193 yards against Michigan and 188 yards against Penn State, both ranked teams, for it’s best ground performances within the Big Ten.
Unfortunately for them, Michigan State still ranks first in FBS for rushing defense, allowing just 78.9 yards per game. They’ve only given up 27 rushes of 10-plus yards (the third fewest in the nation).
The Spartans also rank among the national leaders for third-down conversion defense (16th), scoring defense (17th), and total defense (19th). MSU has held opponents to 21 or fewer points eight times. Point being, Rutgers is going to have a tough time moving the football.
That being said, Dantonio made sure everyone knew he thought Rutgers “is an improved football team” and he doesn't really look at their record so much as their players.
The real question fans should be asking themselves after this past weekend is how many points does this offense score against Rutgers? Even the 2016 team dropped 49 points and shut them out at home.
Michigan State will recognize 18 players in a pregame ceremony on Senior Day. Here are your seniors Spartans fans.
- DE - Dillon Alexander
- OG - David Beedle
- LB - Byron Bullough
- LS - Collin Caflisch
- WR - Felton Davis III
- LB - Andrew Dowell
- TE - Chase Gianacakos
- FB - Ben Line
- OL - Noah Listermann
- FB - Collin Lucas
- QB - Mickey Macius
- LB - Grayson Miller
- S - Matt Morrissey
- DT - Gerald Owens
- LB - Jon Reschke
- CB - Tyson Smith
- TE - Matt Sokol
- S - Khari Willis
Dantonio invites you and encourages fans to come out and support the team as well as his seniors on Saturday.
“We’re looking for fans this weekend. I don’t ask for much. This is a moment for our seniors,” said Dantonio. “This is a chance to celebrate them and all they’ve accomplished.”