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MSU Football: Rutgers Bests Michigan State In Opener, Recap

The Scarlet Knights snap MSU’s streak of 21-straight home opener victories, and snapped their own 21-straight conference loss streak in the process.

Rutgers v Michigan State Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images

Hey, MSU was the last program standing (having not lost to Rutgers in either football or basketball in conference prior to today). We will always have that going for us! As you are all well aware, the Michigan State Spartans fell to the Rutgers Scarlet Knights in the season opener by a final score of 38-27. There were a lot of great moments in this one, but the Spartans made far too many mistakes and helped hand a victory over to an energized and hard fighting Rutgers squad.

When I say “helped hand a victory over,” just look at the stats. Michigan State’s offense lit up the secondary for the most part. The Spartan offense had a 369-276 yard advantage in total yards. Passing, it was 319-170 MSU. The offensive line was the issue for the Spartans as it failed to get much push, and certainly failed to open holes for the trio of running backs MSU utilized. The rushing disadvantage was 106-50, with the Scarlet Knights eclipsing the century mark and MSU falling far short. Oh, and the Spartans had seven turnovers.

Rocky Lombardi got the start for the Spartans, and played through the entire game. He went 30-for-44 for 319 yards, while averaging 7.3 yards per pass, and tossing for three touchdowns while also throwing two interceptions (one on the final play of the game that was bobbled by Rutgers before getting secured).

Freshman Jordon Simmons led the Spartans at running back for the day with his 14 carries going for 43 yards, with a long of 14 and and average of 3.1 per attempt. He also had a fumble in the third quarter, but MSU recovered. Jayden Reed also had a big game, at times. He led the Spartans with 11 catches for 128 yards, but his longest was for 50 yards and a touchdown. He also had multiple fumbles and it was unclear if he ran wrong routes or Lombardi had two bad throws, including a pick, early in game play. Jalen Nailor was next up with six catches for 84 yards, and an average of 14 per reception. Matt Dotson at tight. end had a great game blocking, and picked up an average of 10 yards on five catches, gaining 50 yards in total.

The defense struggled early, but improved significantly as the game wore on. Unfortunately a would be 23-yard pick-six late in the second quarter by Shakur Brown was ruled back after a questionable blind-side block call. Matt Coghlin also had a monster 48-yard field goal to close out the first half. A questionable decision to go for it on fourth-and-two late in the third quarter will have Spartan fans scratching their heads for a while given Coghlin went two-for-two on the day as kicker, and three-for-three for the extra point.

In the end, it was 38-27 Rutgers. Next up on the clock is Michigan. Spartans will travel to Ann Arbor for a 12 p.m. ET kick next week, and hopefully they work hard on ball security in practice this week.