Rutgers welcomed the Michigan State Spartans to Piscataway for a noon kickoff. The sun was out as evidenced by the long shadows, but it was quite brisk. The game began after a ceremony honoring the Rutgers seniors, Damon Hayes, Kyle Laporte, Kobe Marfo, Cole Murphy, Jim Onulak, Willington Previlon, Aslan Pugh, Freddie Recio, Austin Rosa, Kamaal Seymour, Manny Taylor, Prince Taylor and Zach Venesky (captain).
Rutgers deferred and despite MSU moving the ball 49 yards on 9 plays, RU got a fourth down stop for an early shot of momentum. RU couldn’t capitalize on the momentum, going three and out despite a long ball to Bo Melton who had a step on his man, but the slight underthrow was knocked away.
The visitors moved the ball downfield for a touchdown on a 3rd down and long on the ensuing possession. This was the beginning of an amazing day for Spartan wide receiver Cody White who would finish with 11 catches, 136 yards, and three touchdowns. On the play, he clearly pushed off the defender Tre Avery and knew it. How often do you see a wide receiver look at a referee for a flag before celebrating?
After another RU three and out featuring quarterback Johnny Langan missing a wide open Mo Jabbie that would have went for 20+ yards at least, MSU moved the ball and got a field goal. 10-0, MSU.
After another RU three and out, RU forced a three and out. Another chance for momentum, Langan threw an interception to set up Michigan State at the RU 15 yard line.
The Scarlet defense dug in once again, not allowing a single yard on three plays. The ensuing field goal attempt clanged off the left upright and the score remained 10-0.
The momentum was again short-lived as RU went three and out. Michigan State moved the ball 37 yards on nine plays, but once again RU got a 4th down stop after back to back stuffs to keep hope and the crowd alive, 3:46 remaining in the half.
With hopes of getting a score before half, RU failed to get a first down yet again so Michigan State would get another chance. With just 2:13 left in the half, MSU cruised down the field and got another touchdown from White. 7 plays, 77 yards, 17-0, 26 seconds left in the half.
Halftime stats: First Downs: RU 0, MSU 15. Total yards; MSU 267, RU 30. Passing yards: MSU 188, RU 11. Time of possession: RU 9:13, MSU 20:47.
Rutgers wasted no time in finally moving the sticks and netted two of them quite easily on runs by Isaih Pacheco and Langan himself. With the ball in MSU territory for the first time all day, RU went for it on 4th down, why not? On 4th down though, the play broke down and Langan was sacked. Two years from now I think he finds Matt Alaimo on the weak side who could only hold his block for about 6 seconds (yes that is a long time) and had tons of green if the play was improvised and he leaked into the flat.
MSU converted a 3rd down (4-9 on the day at that point) to move into scoring territory. After some good pressure from Julius Turner, Lewerke threw the ball behind his receiver in the back of the end zone. Avery Young adjusted to try for the interception, but the ball was thrown so badly it was even behind him and MSU would have another 3rd down and nine attempt.
The Rutgers defense didn’t wallow in self-pity after the missed opportunity and it paid off. A jump ball to White in the corner of the end zone looked to be sure TD, but before he could land with possession, Tim Barrow jarred the ball loose. Barrow could not complete his revenge with the ball now in a tip drill situation, but Deion Jennings who started the second half at strong side linebacker did by securing the pick for a touchback.
A nice run by Pacheco on second effort was wiped out by a holding penalty on Raiqwon O’Neal setting up a 1st and 20. This was not entirely O’Neal’s fault as the play was designed to go to his right between guard and tackle, but Pacheco bounced it outside to Raiqwon’s left and his hands got tied up. Naturally RU could not move the sticks despite three positive plays and punted.
Michigan State completed a few passes with ease, but then avoided disaster when another completely off target pass that was almost intercepted by Olakunle Fatukasi. The key play was a 3rd down designed QB run where Michigan State’s staff outcoached the Scarlet Knights. The initial design was trips right, but MSU but the running back in motion so four men were now on that side of the field causing Tyreek Maddox-Williams to completely vacate the middle of the field. The safeties didn’t react quick enough and Lewerke ran for 15 yards when he needed 14. RU tightened up though and held MSU to a field goal again. 20-0, five seconds to go int he 3rd quarter.
Frankly at this point, it was admitting defeat to keep Langan in the game because he simply could not throw the ball, 4-11 for 22 yards and an interception. One completion was a dump off to Aaron Young, one was a circus catch by Mo Jabbie, and another to Jabbie on a second and long where MSU had no qualms letting Mo just stand there wide open about 5 yards past the line of scrimmage. The one decent pass was a completion for SIX!!! yards to Bo Melton.
After I wrote all that as the 4th quarter began, Langan did in fact look like Tim Tebow when he successfully checked down to Pacheco for nine yards. Then on the very next play rather than tucking and running as we all expected, Langan hit Isaiah Washington right in the chest on a basic curl route for 8 yards. Washington for the second game in a row could not even just sit down with the ball to move the chains, instead it popped onto the turf with minimal effort from the defender and MSU recovered.
Michigan State easily put the ball in the end zone on just four plays for 29 yards and the TD. 27-0, game over, drive home safely if it wasn’t already. Guess who, Cody White, with a one handed catch on a good route but poorly thrown ball, his 3rd TD of the game. 12:39 to go in the game.
Langan was again locked in on the ensuing drive, but a perfect throw on a crossing route was dropped by Mo Jabbie that would have gotten the ball deep in the red zone. His poorest throw of the sequence came on the next play, but it was still enough to draw a defensive holding penalty. Then one play later, despite scrambling around for a long time, Langan found Paul Woods along the sideline to avoid a sack. It looked like Rutgers would march all the way to the end zone and avoid the shutout, but it was not to be.
Just as suddenly as he flipped the switch, Langan crashed back to earth. Langan avoided disaster when an interception by Michigan State on a bad throw was ruled out of bounds. Then a poor choice to run with guys running around open set up a 3rd down. On 3rd, the ball should have been picked off but after being tipped by a defender fell harmlessly to the turf. Rutgers went for the field goal and it was good, but a holding penalty wiped out the points. Despite the wind at their backs, RU did not elect to try a 53 yard field goal.
Adam Korsak pinned MSU inside their own one yard line. RU hoped for a safety on an intentional grounding from Lewerke, but he was ruled outside the tackle box and MSU punted with 3:47 remaining. RU failed to gain a yard and the game was over despite another Korsak punt downed inside the 5 yard line.
With the loss Rutgers has the 2nd longest conference losing streak in Big Ten history at 20 games. The all-time record is 34, let’s hope we don’t see that in 2021 ...
Key stat(s): Normally two 4th down stands in one half would be it, but that didn’t matter for the Scarlet Knights defense when the offense did not achieve a single first down before intermission.
Additional Takeaway(s): This must have been what opponents felt like against Leonte Carroo. Tre Avery struggled in place of Damon Hayes who was extremely limited on his senior day. Cody White was lining up all over the formation and getting making tough plays. What made this extra infuriating is that I wasn’t overwhelming impressed with White. Sure this is through Scarlet colored glasses, but I don’t think he’s any better of a player than Bo Melton. I just feel so sorry for Bo who may be the biggest victim in a Rutgers Football uniform in my lifetime, which is saying something.
Deion Jennings made a few nice plays including the interception. Robin Jutwreten made a few nice plays. Rutgers has some nice young role players for the next coach. More on who those players are in a future article.
At least this game ended in less than three hours.
B1G Boy Football: Michigan State held RU to just 3.1 yards per rush.
Next up: Rutgers travels to Penn State on Nov. 30 at 3:30 pm for the season finale.
Look for more coverage of this game and the news heading into the Penn State game here at onthebanks.com
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