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TOC Staff Picks: Michigan State vs. Rutgers

The Spartans look to move to 6-0 on the season

Syndication: Lansing State Journal Nick King/Lansing State Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

Prior to the season, Michigan State fans were just hoping for bowl eligibility by the end of the 2021 campaign. Now, the Spartans have an opportunity to deliver on that goal just six games into the season.

MSU enters the game as around a five-point favorite against Rutgers. It’s hard to know what Rutgers truly is. The Scarlet Knights looked solid to open the year, collecting three-straight wins, but have since lost a pair of Big Ten games to quality teams in Michigan and Ohio State.

The Spartans come in after having dominated Western Kentucky in a solid bounce back game for the offense. Looking to avenge last season’s loss at home, the Spartans should come out with some fight.

Check out what our writers have to say about the “Keep Chopping” bowl:

Ryan O’Bleness

Michigan State 34, Rutgers 24

This game actually scares me on the road. Rutgers is no longer a laughingstock in the Big Ten, and the Scarlet Knights have a formidable defense. However, Michigan State is not going to gift Rutgers with seven turnovers this time around like it did in 2020, and I don’t see the Scarlet Knights being able to match the Spartans’ offensive pace for four quarters. Rutgers may somewhat limit Michigan State’s offense throughout the game, and will keep things close for three-plus quarters, but I see MSU breaking away in the fourth quarter, eventually winning by 10 or so points

Kevin Knight

Michigan State 31, Rutgers 17

The Spartans face a stiff defensive test again in this one. However, lessons in play-calling were learned by the coaching staff and a revenge focused squad is dialed in to wash the stain of that seven-turnover debacle of last season.

Paul Fanson

Michigan State 28, Rutgers 27

This is the week when we will really start to sort out the contenders from the pretenders in the Big Ten race. Rutgers is no longer a pushover with head coach Greg Schiano back in town, but the Scarlet Knights already showed that they cannot keep up with Ohio State or even Michigan just yet. By comparison, the road trip to Piscataway will be a great reality check on where the Spartans are at.

I think that Rutgers is pretty good, but the Spartans are a little better. In the end, I think that last year’s loss in head coach Mel Tucker’s first year will provide just enough extra motivation for the Spartans to eke out a one-point victory. If MSU can win comfortably, the Big Ten East will need to take notice.

Zach Manning

Michigan State 27, Rutgers 16

I think the Rutgers defense is better than it showed last week against Ohio State. Many teams struggle against the Buckeyes’ offense and the Spartans aren’t quite up to that level. Rutgers is pretty solid in a lot of areas, but MSU should still be able to move the ball pretty effectively.

I think Payton Thorne and the offense build an early lead, while the defense continues to bend but not break, holding the Scarlet Knights to field goals instead of touchdowns. The Spartans head to Bloomington, Indiana undefeated.

Matt Sheehan

Michigan State 25, Rutgers 19

These always seem to be pretty weird games when MSU takes on Rutgers, so let’s just pin a weird score up there, too. Both defenses will keep the game in front of them and make it a field goal palooza in the red zone, keeping it close the entire afternoon in Piscataway. Bold prediction: Tre Mosley leads the team in catches and yards.


Michigan State 27, Rutgers 24

This is going to be grueling. Rutgers has a “run the ball and stop the run” mentality and it is a very disciplined team. The Scarlet Knights are 15th in the nation in turnover margin (plus-five, coincidentally the same for Michigan State). Rutgers is also the second least penalized team in the NCAA by yardage. That all said, Rutgers is an inefficient running offense (only 3.8 yards per rush) and I think MSU has enough firepower to churn out an uncomfortably close victory.

Matt Hoeppner

Michigan State 28, Rutgers 20

This will be a somewhat close game for most of the way, MSU will pull ahead in the second half and Rutgers will add a late touchdown to make the score look closer than it was. Michigan State’s offense should be able to put up enough to get the job done against a tough Rutgers defense, but I don’t see the Knights scoring enough to keep up. Spartans move to 6-0.

Austen Flores

Michigan State 30, Rutgers 20

Aside from last week’s blowout loss to Ohio State, the Scarlett Knights have been solid so far and are in the backend of their most brutal season stretch. While MSU has been vulnerable at times this year, there’s little reason to believe they Spartans will hang a dud this weekend. I see Rutgers staying in it for a bit, but Spartans eventually pull away.

Throughout the year, several members of TOC will participate in Big Ten picks using Tallysight. You can keep up with those picks here: