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OTB Staff Predictions: Rutgers v. Michigan State

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Rutgers is a big underdog against #4 Michigan State. How does our staff think the "blackout" game will play out?

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Griffin Whitmer: I think Rutgers has the potential to beat Michigan State, but I wouldn't bet on it. There is a good chance that the Spartans come out playing pissed off since they haven't won a game handily all year, and their win against Oregon is looking less and less impressive by the week. Part of me thinks that they will come out at beat the living crap out of Rutgers. Another part of me thinks that Rutgers can stick with the Spartans in a low-scoring affair and pull off the upset. The return of Leonte Carroo gives the team a bigger emotional boost than a playing boost. This could be a memorable night in Piscataway. That being said, Michigan State is a team that simply gets the job done when they need to. MSU 24, Rutgers 10

Andy Egan: Rutgers hasn't put together an impressive game since Norfolk St - and that one by definition wasn't very impressive. I think Rutgers plays its best game of the season (against a real opponent) . . . and still loses by at least two scores. I think the run game is going to be good, with Hicks leading the way. I also expect Laviano to play well, including one long TD to Leonte Carroo, and a lot of completed check down passes over the middle and to the flat. If he can limit his turnovers to one or fewer, he could have a nice night. I just don't think the defense can hold up to the Spartan attack. MSU is going to run and run and run, and then torch the secondary late in the game just enough to remind us how far we have to go to keep pace in this division, killing any Rutgers hopes of an upset in an otherwise tight game with a  TD or two late in the 4th quarter. MSU 31, Rutgers 17

Bob Cancro: Okay...deep breath.  Purdue and Indiana gave the downtrodden some hope.  They also probably woke up Mark Dantonio's team.  Without a doubt the return of Carroo lifts the Knights, but as Andy said there is a long way to go to close the gap between the two programs.  The run game should be good enough to keep Rutgers in this - at least emotionally - and slow down Connor Cook & Co.  That being said, we still don't have enough fire power or defensive strength to make this a close game.  Will the troops rally around Carroo?  Will Laviano, with his big weapon back, be able to stretch the field?  I say yes on both, but that only makes it an entertaining game.  MSU 34, Rutgers 14

Dave White: I don't know, man.  Come on.  I'm not psychic!  I'm not going to make a prediction!  MSU 42 Rutgers 21

Aaron Breitman: I understand the thought that Michigan State could have an awakening after close calls against inferior opponents. However, this team has lost three starters on defense and has an offensive line with every starter playing out of their natural position. This is not the same Michigan State team that beat Oregon.  With that being said, Rutgers needs to play close to a perfect game to win.  They have had 38 penalties in four games, the offense haven't thrown down the field effectively, nor has the defense generated much of a pass rush, on top of having the most inexperienced secondary in the conference.  I think Rutgers has a big edge in special teams and can potentially run the ball effectively against the Spartans.  The return of Carroo, the team being fully rested off the bye, and the players feeding off the "blackout" atmosphere, give them a chance.  For Rutgers to win, they need to jump out to a lead early and minimize penalties and turnovers.  I do think they are capable, but they have failed to come close to putting it all together so far this season.  I think Rutgers plays their best game of the season, ultimately falling short in heartbreaking fashion, losing on a late Connor Cook touchdown pass. MSU 31 Rutgers 28

Scott Logan: This time last week, I would have told you this was going to be an ugly loss for Rutgers. But today...well today I think it's going to be a not-so-ugly loss for Rutgers. The fact that Purdue was able to push MSU to the last minute in East Lansing last week is both good news and bad news for us. On one hand, it showed a bad team can (almost) beat Michigan State. On the other hand, it may have been a wake up call for the Spartans, and they'll do everything in their power to not let it happen again this week. I want to be optimistic here. Purdue almost beat Michigan State. We should be fresh coming off our bye. Leonte Carroo is back. It's the blackout game, and Rutgers is undefeated in blackout games in the Flood Era. However, none of those games were against ranked teams, let alone the fourth-ranked team in the nation. I just don't see how a quarterback who is so reluctant to throw downfield like Chris Laviano beats the "No Fly Zone" MSU defense. Carroo should provide a boost, and maybe this game turns out to be closer than people think, but I can't honestly predict a win. MSU 38, Rutgers 27

Ray Ransom: Come on guys! Am I the only homer here? I think this game is the perfect storm for MSU to have the trappiest trap game of all trap games. Night game, under the lights, Rutgers getting its best offensive player back, MSU suffering injuries at key positions, big game against Michigan next week...I see an upset special in the cards! Michigan State jumps out to a big lead, but the Knights come charging back in the second half while the Spartans play it safe. A couple big returns from Grant take this one to overtime and Carroo catches a TD for the win in an instant ESPN Classic and the biggest win since Pandemonium. In OT: RU 30, MSU 27

Kelly Montagna: With the reinstatement of Carroo, Rutgers will get a much needed boost in their passing game to compliment their running backs. The problem is, their facing a big time MSU defense that has recorded 18 sacks in just 5 games. If the Spartans' defensive line gets pressure on Laviano, it may be a long day for Rutgers, given his interception rate. On the defensive side of the ball, Rutgers' young secondary could have its hands full with Connor Cook, MSU's all-time winningest QB. Cook is still looking for a break-out game this season, and it may come at the expense of the Scarlet Knights. MSU 42-24