The look ahead to the 2022 schedule continues for ranking Michigan State’s football opponents this coming season. Up today is the opponent I deem the second easiest Big Ten opponent, and the fourth easiest game on the schedule overall: the Rutgers Scarlet Knights.
2021 Record: 5-8 (2-7 Big Ten)
After a 2020 season that actually saw Rutgers play competitively in the Big Ten for the first time in ages, including defeating Michigan State in the season opener, 2021 was a letdown to a degree. The Scarlet Knights managed a road win at Syracuse in the non-conference schedule and wins at Illinois and Indiana. However, six Big Ten losses were by double-digits, including a 52-3 home loss to Wisconsin and a shutout by Penn State in Happy Valley.
A COVID-19 cancelation by Texas A&M ahead of the Gator Bowl resulted in RU getting an invitation as the replacement team, and then scrambling to get ready for a bowl game last minute. The eventual result saw the Scarlet Knights get handily defeated by Wake Forest, 38-10.
Michigan State will be facing off against Rutgers for the 14th time in a series that dates back to 1988. MSU is currently riding a one-game winning streak in the series after winning the matchup in 2021. In 2020, MSU lost to Rutgers in Big Ten play for the first time, following six-straight wins for the Spartans over the Scarlet Knights. The Spartans lead the all-time series 9-4.
2022 Program Outlook
Head coach Greg Schiano is entering his third season in his second stint at the helm, following his return to Rutgers in 2020 (he was also the head coach for the Scarlet Knights from 2001-2011). Last season, the Scarlet Knights earned a bowl bid by some luck, but this season hope to earn bowl eligibility outright. Doing so will take drastic improvement on the offensive end, however.
Noah Vedral and Gavin Wimsatt are battling for the starter position at quarterback. Vedral is in his sixth season of college eligibility and is at his third school after stops at UCF and Nebraska before landing at Rutgers for the 2020 season. Last season saw Vedral throw for seven touchdowns and seven interceptions among his 1,854 yards passing.
As for the defense, it should be the team’s strength. That is especially true for the secondary, which returns Kessawn Abraham and Avery Young. Abraham returned a blocked extra point 85 yards for a touchdown against Maryland, while Young has totaled 242 tackles, 21 passes defensed, four forced fumbles, and two interceptions in 45 career games.
Why No. 9?
Rutgers is a far cry from the flaming dumpster fire it was under former head coach Chris Ash, but it is still a long, long ways from being a contender in the Big Ten. On top of that, this game is late in the season for Michigan State. Assuming the Spartans stay relatively healthy, having a well functioning squad by that point should give MSU the edge in this one all by itself. Add on the fact that it will be at home for the Spartans, with Michigan State coming off of a road trip to Illinois, with Indiana the week after, gives confidence this will not be a trap game, either
There will not be any early celebrations heading into the end zone like there were in Piscataway last season, in all likelihood. It may also take until the second half for the Spartans to really put this one away. However, Michigan State will add another W into the win column on the season in this one with more than a touchdown margin by the end.
Catch up on the rankings here:
2022 MSU Football Schedule
|Sept. 2||Western Michigan||East Lansing, MI||7:00 PM||ESPN|
|Sept. 10||Akron||East Lansing, MI||4:00 PM||BTN|
|Sept. 17||Washington||Seattle, WA||7:30 PM||ABC|
|Sept. 24||Minnesota||East Lansing, MI||TBA||TBA|
|Oct. 1||Maryland||College Park, MD||TBA||TBA|
|Oct. 8||Ohio State||East Lansing, MI|
|Oct. 15||Wisconsin||East Lansing, MI||3:30/4:00 PM||TBA|
|Oct. 29||Michigan||Ann Arbor, MI||TBA||TBA|
|Nov. 5||Illinois||Champaign, IL||TBA||TBA|
|Nov. 12||Rutgers||East Lansing, MI||TBA||TBA|
|Nov. 19||Indiana||East Lansing, MI||TBA||TBA|
|Nov. 26||Penn State||State College, PA||TBA||TBA|