Rutgers takes on Michigan State for homecoming this year in one of the biggest games of this season. Rutgers sits at 4-2 and a win here would be absolutely massive for the Scarlet Knights chances of making a bowl game. The Michigan State Spartans come in as a team in disarray. Their coach was fired for off the field reasons, and their team has underperformed relative to the Michigan state standard. However, based on the history of this series, this will still be a close game. Lets take a look at the series between the Rutgers.
Michigan State leads the all time series with a 10-4 record. The Spartans won the two most recent games 27-21 in 2022 and 31-13 in 2021, while Rutgers won in the 2020 Covid year 38-27 in East Lansing. Before that Rutgers lost five in a row since joining the Big Ten. These games alternated between close games and blowout losses in the Chris Ash and Kyle Flood eras.
Here is a closer look at last years at the games from 2022 and 2021. This year’s game will be close like these two previous years. (Vegas agrees as the last line I saw was Rutgers -4.5).
2020: This game was the first game of Greg Schiano’s second tenure at Rutgers. After the Ash era expectations were muted, but from the first drive of the game this team showed that it was not the same. Rutgers marched down the field with the help of Isiah Pacheco, Noah Vedral, and Bo Melton and put a touchdown on the board on their first possession.
The game continued to get off to a dream start as Michigan State fumbled on their first play of their season. Future Green Bay Packer Jayden Reed got stripped by Avery Young, and the Knights were back on offense. The offense couldn't keep the momentum going though as Rutgers was forced to punt the ball back to the Spartans. However the defense continued its stellar play, and Mohammed Toure forced a fumble on the two yard line that Rutgers was able to recover. After a few plays Rutgers scored again on a Johnny Langan goal line run, and the lead was up to 14-0. The Michigan State offense woke up on their next drive and put up a touchdown thanks to a great catch and run by Jayden Reed.
Rutgers again went three and out on their next drive but the defense kept on chopping and turned Michigan over yet again with an interception. This time the offense took advantage and punched in the touchdown on a long run from Noah Vedral. 21-7 Rutgers. After the teams traded two more turnovers on their next two drives, Michigan State kicked a field goal and sent the ball back to Rutgers. Isiah Pacheco powered the Knights on another scoring drive and Rutgers looked set to take a 28-10 lead into half time. However Michigan state ran a successful two minute drill and was able to decrease the lead to two scores at the half. 28-13 Rutgers.
The second half kicked off with Michigan State receiving the ball. This drive ended in yet another turnover caused by the Rutgers Defense. Olakunle Fatukasi was able to force a fumble and give Rutgers a short field to work with. The offense again could not capitalize and Rutgers punted the ball back to the Spartans. The defense held strong, but the Scarlet Knights fumbled the ensuing punt and the Spartans were able to take advantage with a one play drive for a touchdown. This brought the game to 28-20 and it seemed like the momentum was flipping to Michigan State. The Scarlet Knight offense was then able to right the ship as it went on a long drive to eat clock and kick a field goal to go up eleven and make the lead safe again. Rutgers was able to add another touchdown after a Michigan State punt, and this was the dagger for the game. Michigan State was not able to bring the game back to one score, and Rutgers was able to secure its only win over the Spartans since joining the Big Ten.
2022: This game was the only game where the Rutgers offense looked serviceable in the second half of the season last year, and was a game Rutgers had a chance in until late in the 3rd quarter. The game started off slow for both teams as the first quarter was an old fashioned big ten punt fest. The Spartans were able to wake up at the end of the first quarter and finally put a score on the board with a 26-yard touchdown pass to their tight end Daniel Barker. This touchdown remained the only score on the board until later in the second quarter when Rutgers was able to punch in a touchdown after a nine play 96-yard drive on a pass to Aaron Young. Unfortunately, Michigan State was able to respond and went into the half with a 14-7 lead over the Scarlet Knights.
The second half began with a quick drive by Rutgers that ended in a punt back to the Spartans. The Michigan State offense took advantage of their possession and put another touchdown on the board to go up 21-7. The two teams traded possessions and then Rutgers was able to score on a drive powered by Aron Cruickshank. The Scarlet Knights were within one score late in the third quarter and it looked like an upset might be brewing. The defense stopped Michigan State with a three-and-out and the Knights got the ball back. They drove down the field and got into field goal position to potentially bring the game within four. Michigan State then blocked a Jude Mcatamney field goal and the wind was taken out of the Scarlet Knights sails. Michigan State kicked two field goals on their next two drives to go up 27-14. Rutgers was able to claw back a touchdown in the dying embers, but it would not be enough to salvage the game. Michigan State won. 27-21.
Lets hope this years game is a repeat of the 2020 season for the Scarlet Knights. Rutgers defense has been opportunistic this year, and Michigan State has been plagued by turnovers all year. If Rutgers can win the turnover battle and score points on short fields then this game could go our way.