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The 3-2-1 Preview: 3 things we want to see, 2 key stats, 1 best bet for MSU football vs. Rutgers

Some of these Rutgers

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 09 Illinois at Michigan State Photo by Adam Ruff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Wow, you’re still here?

Reading about MSU football?

Well, thanks! Let’s see if we can find some happiness this time around.

3 Things We Want To See

2016 MSU (that one time)

This game has a good amount of parallels to that 2016 game against Rutgers where MSU came out swinging despite a lost season. 49-0 was the score of that game and the postgame celebration suggested this team just locked up another trip to Indy.

What I’m trying to say is that I hope we see a MSU team that doesn’t have quit in them. It’s been a tough season – they haven’t tasted victory since September and they’re playing for Quick Lane Bowl eligibility. They’ve gotten their doors blown off the hemisphere by four teams. The fifth game in that stretch saw a meltdown of John L. Smith proportions.

So MSU has two options – roll over in Piscataway and continue this run of dread, or get mentally strong and come in like dawgs ready to tune up a vastly inferior roster. That 2016 team picked the latter option when they were in the same shoes, now let’s hope the 2019 Spartans have that same mindset.

Run, run and keep on running

Michigan State’s running game on offense is just OK. Rutgers run defense is just flat-out horrible, letting up a Big Ten-highest 5.0 yards per carry. You — yes, you — could be a viable third down back option against Rutgers.

Elijah Collins and Co. have had an up-and-down season, but he feasts against teams MSU should be road-grating. It’s hard not to think about his 170 yard, two touchdown outing that was ultimately wasted against Illinois and not think he can just about do the same thing to Rutgers.

Illinois had a pretty OK run defense. Again, Rutgers has an abysmal run defense. The Scarlet Knights have let up 190-plus rushing yards in every Big Ten but one (suck it, Michigan, I guess?). MSU has to eat on the ground this game.

Get off the field on third down

I swear if I see one more 3rd-and-a mile conversion this season I’m helicopter the remote directly through the television. Rush more than three. Don’t go soft coverage on third-and-long. Get some safety help over the top. Just do anything – anything – that you already haven’t been doing.

MSU lost got obliterated last week for about 27 different reasons, but the defense letting up a 8-13 third down conversion rate was a big one of them. Rutgers has a rough third down conversion rate at 36 percent, good for 98th in the nation (don’t laugh, MSU’s is even worse at 34.3 percent). Just…please stop Rutgers on third down.

Indiana v Michigan State Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

2 Key Stats


That’s the amount of Big Ten games where Rutgers has scored more than 10 points. That one? Against Ohio State, of all teams. Granted it was 49-7 and Ohio State was playing its intramural flag football players at that point.

Here are a few more stats to flex how abysmal Rutgers is on offense:

  • 3.5 yards per carry – worst in the Big Ten
  • 275.4 yards per game – worst in the Big Ten
  • 6.1 yards per pass attempt – second worst in Big Ten
  • 18 touchdowns – second worst in Big Ten

But there’s still one more stat that’s even more glaring...


That would be a mediocre touchdown/interception ratio…but that’s not even what this stat is.

No. It’s much worse.

That’s Rutgers interception/touchdown passes ratio. Fourteen interceptions. Seven touchdown passes. There’s bad. And then there’s Rutgers.

The Scarlet Knights boast a -13 turnover ratio which, as you could imagine, is worst in the Big Ten.

In closing – they can’t run, they pass to literally anyone and they can’t score. MSU’s defense has been awful since week four, but even this offense shouldn’t be able to scare them…right?

1 Best Bet

MSU -20.5, over/under 43.5

I honestly have no idea. On one hand, MSU should win by a billion. On the other hand, it would be foolish to just blindly trust this MSU team. And on one hand, MSU and Rutgers offenses are so brutal I don’t even know if they eclipse 20 points. And on the other hand, both teams love giving up 30-plus points per game.

Ahh screw it, just give me the 20.5 half points. Picking against MSU has made people rich this year (2-8 against the spread). I don’t trust the offense to score enough to make it a blowout. And I certainly don’t trust the defense enough to keep it a three-plus possession lead should the Spartan offense do its job.

Pick: Rutgers +20.5

Record: 7-3-1


What’s your best bet for Saturday?

This poll is closed

  • 30%
    MSU -20.5
    (44 votes)
  • 42%
    Rutgers +20.5
    (62 votes)
  • 12%
    Over 43.5
    (18 votes)
  • 14%
    Under 43.5
    (21 votes)
145 votes total Vote Now