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Rutgers burned by big plays in 31-13 loss to No. 11 Michigan State

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The Spartans hit big early and cruised to victory.

Michigan State v Rutgers Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

No. 11 Michigan State came into Piscataway with revenge on its mind. Not only did the Spartans avenge a 2020 loss to Rutgers — they did it in record-setting fashion.

Michigan State rode its big-play ability to a 31-13 victory over Rutgers on Saturday afternoon.

The scoring began with an Aron Cruickshank touchdown reception from Johnny Langan but it did not take the Spartans long to answer. It took just to plays for Payton Thorne to find Jalen Nailor for a 63-yard touchdown. Nailor would add another 63-yarder and a 65-yard touchdown in the first half.

Nailor finished with five catches for 221 yards and three touchdowns. He totaled 208 yards in the first half, which was the most in the history of SHI Stadium. Nailor’s 221 yards is the fourth-most in a single game in Michigan State history.

Leading 21-13 at halftime, it was Kenneth Walker III’s turn to make some noise. On its third drive of the second half, Michigan State was backed up deep in their own territory. Walker took a handoff from the six-yard line and took it 94 yards for a score. This sets a new mark for the longest play from scrimmage in Spartan football history.

Walker finished with 233 yards and a touchdown on 29 carries. This was the fifth time in FBS history that a team finished with a 300-yard passer, 200-yard runner, and 200-yard receiver. Throne completed just 16 passes but totaled 339 yards and three touchdowns.

Just for fun, the Spartans added another record when Matt Coghlin hit a 35-yard field goal in the fourth quarter. This was his 72nd make to give him the most in program history.

Rutgers did not score in the second half of this one. It marks the third-straight game that they have been held to 13 points. The running game could not get going once again while Noah Vedral finished 16-for-31 for 208 yards.

Michigan State finished with 588 total yards and gained 6.6 yards per carry. Teams have been coming to Piscataway and making themselves comfortable. This was another edition of that as the Spartans had a field day on their way to a 6-0 start.

Rutgers will be back on the road next week looking to snap a three-game skid against a struggling Northwestern team.

The Scarlet Knights got off to a hot start in non-conference play but they are still searching for that big victory against a Big Ten team. The schedule eases up after essentially playing three top ten teams in a row. This is important to remember as Rutgers looks to do some positive things on the field moving forward.