According to vegasinsder.com, the opening line listed Michigan State as 15.5 point favorites when they host Rutgers this upcoming Saturday at noon on the Big Ten Network. The line has since fallen to 14.5 points. Both the Spartans and Scarlet Knights are 2-7 overall, and winless in Big Ten play. The Spartans are coming off a 31-27 loss to Illinois, their seventh straight loss since defeating then #18 Notre Dame 36-28 on September 18th. Looking solely at the stats it is difficult to see how the Spartans lost as they outgained Illinois in total offense 490-304 and dominated time of possession 41:36 to 18:24. Of their seven red zone trips only two resulted in touchdowns, while settling for field goals three times. Meanwhile Illinois converted all three of their red zone trips for touchdowns.
The Scarlet Knights also lost this past weekend 33-27 to the Indiana Hoosiers (5-4; 3-3), their sixth straight despite four turnovers by the Hoosiers and three missed field goals. Coming off a much needed bye week, Gio Rescigno’s hamstring still seemed to bother him, and inconsistent offensive line play did not help as he endured several big hits. The offense found itself facing many 3rd and longs and only managed to convert one 3rd down, and have only completed 32.45% on the season, ranking 117th amongst FBS teams. With Gio as the starter the last two games, he has completed 11 passes out of 24 attempts (45.8%) for 67 yards on third down.
In addition to being large road underdogs, ESPN’s matchup predictor lists Rutger’s chances of winning the game at 15.40%. Rutgers advanced statistics profile on Football Study Hall give Rutgers a 20% chance of beating the Spartans on Saturday. In terms of S&P+ ranking for the season, Michigan State is ranked 75th and Rutgers is ranked 114th.
Rutgers has been very competitive in their last two games, despite being large underdogs, losing by a combined 8 points. Despite the continual improvement, they have yet to put together a complete game. With Michigan State off to their worst Big Ten start in history, Rutgers has a chance to get their first conference win, however they will need a healthy Gio to run a balanced offensive attack, and Rutgers defense needs to continue to get stops within the red zone and reduce the number of big plays allowed. Let’s hope for Rutgers to put a complete game together this weekend and pull out the upset on the road against the Spartans.