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Rutgers Football Game #12 Preview vs. Michigan State

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Including how to watch, advanced stats, and keys to the game

NCAA Football: Rutgers at Penn State Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

How To Watch, Stream & Listen

#21 Michigan State (8-3; 6-2) At Rutgers (4-7; 3-5)

Where: High Point Solutions Stadium in Piscataway, New Jersey

Kick-off: Saturday, November 25th at 4:00 p.m. ET

Weather: 51 degrees, mostly cloudy, 3 mph winds

TV: FOX - Brian Custer, Ben Leber, and Jen Hale

Stream: Fox Sports Go

Radio: Rutgers IMG Sports Network with Chris Carlin, Ray Lucas, Eric LeGrand and Anthony Fucilli - WCTC 1450-AM, WOR 710-AM, WENJ 97.3-FM, WNJE 920-AM, Sirius 112, XM 203

Current Spread: Michigan State -14

Against The Spread: Rutgers 8-3; Michigan State 6-5

Series History: Michigan State leads 5-3 and have won all three meetings as Big Ten East divisional foes.

SB Nation MSU site: The Only Colors

Michigan State Statistical Leaders

Passing: Brian Lewerke - 212 for 365 pass attempts, 58.1%, 2,358 yards, 16 TD, 7 INT

Rushing: L.J. Scott - 731 yards on 164 attempts, 4.5 ypc, 6 TD; Brian Lewerke - 433 yards on 98 attempts, 4.4 ypc, 4 TD; Madre London - 265 yards on 70 attempts, 3.8 ypc, 2 TD; Gerald Holmes - 226 yards on 63 attempts, 3.6 ypc

Receiving: Felton Davis - 45 catches for 586 yards, 13.0 ypc, 8 TD; D Stewart - 43 catches for 450 yards, 10.5 ypc, 2 TD; Cody White - 30 catches for 407 yards, 13.6 ypc, 2 TD

Defense: Joe Bachie - 92 tackles, 8.5 for a loss, 3.5 sacks, 2 INT’s, 2 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery; Kenny Willekes - 67 tackles, 14.5 for a loss, 7 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 2 recovered fumbles; David Dowell - 48 tackles, 5 INT’s, 1 recovered fumble

Kicking: Matt Coghlin - 28 for 28 PAT’s, 11 for 15 FG attempts, Long of 46 yards

Michigan State Statistical Comparison Versus Rutgers

S&P+ Advanced Stats Profiles: Michigan State I Rutgers

Rutgers Advanced Stats Win Probability - 28% (per Football Study Hall)

Projected Score per Football Study Hall: Michigan 26.7 Rutgers 16.4

S&P+ Team Ranking: Michigan State 35th; Rutgers 107th

S&P+ Offensive Ranks: Michigan State 106th; Rutgers 123rd

S&P+ Defensive Ranks: Michigan State 6th; Rutgers 50th

(conference ranks noted below)

Scoring Offense: Michigan State 21.5 ppg (12th); Rutgers 19.0 ppg (13th)

Scoring Defense: Michigan State 21.5 ppg (8th); Rutgers 27.3 ppg (11th)

Notable Stat Comparisons

Rushing Offense: Rutgers 159.2 ypg (6th) vs. Michigan State 158.7 ypg (7th)

Rushing Defense: Michigan State 109.2 ypg (2nd) vs. Rutgers 179.4 ypg (11th)

Kickoff Coverage: Rutgers (1st) vs. Michigan State (13th)

3rd Down Conversions: Michigan State has a 40.9% conversion rate (4th) on offense and allows 33.1% conversion rate (5th) on defense. Rutgers has a 33.3% conversion rate (12th) on offense and allows 35.3% conversion rate (7th) on defense.

Time of Possession: Rutgers 29:59 (8th) vs. Michigan State 34:03 (2nd)

What To Watch For

Michigan State’s MO

This team is a typical of its head coach, Mark Dantonio. They have a great defense that stifles its opponents in the run game, but is extremely balanced overall. On offense, they control the game on the ground and wear down their opponents by dominating time of possession. Line play is strong on both sides, they minimize mistakes and it’s a typically tough minded team in the mold of Dantonio. Basically, they are a similarly styled team as Ash is building with Rutgers, but a much better version with more talent and depth.

Senior Day Response

Rutgers laid a massive egg last week against Indiana and this game is a chance for them to redeem themselves against Michigan State. It’s senior day and it should be an emotional day for the graduating class. They’ll come out ready to play and hopefully it will result in a well played game by the Scarlet Knights. It won’t be easy against the Spartans, but if Rutgers can make it a close game by playing hard and mistake free football, it will at least end the season on an encouraging note. Of course, an upset victory would be a tremendous statement by this program and certainly be a big boost heading into the offseason.

Who Will Play QB For Rutgers

Head coach Chris Ash said earlier this week that whichever quarterback gives them the best chance to win this game will start. There are arguments for keeping Gio Rescigno as the starter, as well as giving true freshman Johnathan Lewis his first opportunity to open the game under center. I’m firmly in the play Lewis camp for several reasons. We know what Gio can do and while I applaud his gutty play, his skill set is limited. Lewis has greater upside, but needs game experience to gain more seasoning. He also makes the Rutegrs offense more unpredictable in this game. Maybe Ash plays both, but I think sticking solely with Gio would be a mistake. I believe Lewis is the frontrunner to start next season and this game should be an opportunity for him to show what he can do, as well as accumulate valuable film against a great defense to learn from in the offseason.

Battle On The Ground

Both teams have run heavy offenses and this game will truly be a battle in the trenches. Line play on both sides will be key for both teams and obviously, Michigan State has the edge coming in. However, I expect a spirited effort from Rutgers in this game and hopefully they can establish the run on offense early on. That’s a big reason I think Lewis should start, as he will be a tougher target to bring down in the run game. However, it won’t be easy, as the Spartans are strong in defending the run, allowing just over 100 yards per game. On the flip side, Rutgers is much better than how they played against Indiana and need to prove it by putting up a fight against the Spartans. The first quarter will be key in establishing things and limiting Michigan State in the run game. If they force the Spartans to have to attack through the air, the secondary of Rutgers could have a big day.

Let It All Hang Out

This is it, as there is no tomorrow, as the saying goes. I hope the coaching staff leaves everything out there on the field in this game, just as the players should. There should be no holding back with play calling. I hope the coaching staff comes with an aggressive game plan on both sides of the ball. Rutgers has nothing to lose in this game and should have an emotional edge playing on senior day. Michigan State isn’t looking for a fight in this game and hoping for an easy victory, in order to wrap up a better bowl berth. It’s up to Rutgers to bring it to them from the opening kickoff and make this a battle, similar to how they did against the Spartans in a one score loss two seasons ago. Ending the season with a loss is never the goal, but a hard fought, tight game would certainly be an encouraging step forward against a ranked opponent.

OTB Staff Predictions