Spartans battle Rutgers in East Lansing Saturday
MSU beat Maryland 37-15 last weekend
EAST LANSING, Mich. – Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio has focused on prioritization since the Spartans' loss to Ohio State took them out of the national title picture. He just didn't want his team to be defined by that 49-37 defeat on Nov. 8, not with a major bowl berth still out there for the taking, as well as a potential 11-win season. So, bouncing back has been a big theme in East Lansing. It worked well in a 37-15 win over Maryland last week, and now Rutgers will see if it continues when the Scarlet Knights visit Spartan Stadium on Saturday.
Rutgers has done some bouncing back of its own, and it may have saved coach Kyle Flood's job. After a three-game losing streak in which the Scarlet Knights were woefully outscored 135-41, Rutgers finally secured bowl eligibility with a 45-23 win over Indiana in the home finale. Flood has qualified for the postseason in each of his three years but the Scarlet Knights might be defined by how they finish their first Big Ten season, and the win over the Hoosiers may just get swept away if Rutgers loses out and drops five of its final six league games.
TV: 12 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network. LINE: Michigan State -22
ABOUT RUTGERS (6-4, 2-4 BIG TEN): The Scarlet Knights thought they had enough depth to overcome the loss of running back Paul James, who suffered a torn ACL in a 31-24 loss at Navy on Sept. 20. Six games later, James is still the second-leading rusher, and Desmon Peoples, the only Scarlet Knight ahead of James, had just one carry versus the Hoosiers. There is hope, though, against Michigan State, as Josh Hicks and Robert Martin ran for 114 and 83 yards, respectively, against Indiana, and accounted for four touchdowns.
ABOUT MICHIGAN STATE (8-2, 5-1): Quarterback Connor Cook rallied the troops versus the Terrapins and pushed his season totals to 2,466 passing yards and 19 touchdowns. He has a chance to pad those statistics in his home finale, as Rutgers has allowed 49 points and is 0-2 on the road in league play. Running back Jeremy Langford, who will play in Spartan Stadium for the last time, will shoot for his eighth consecutive 100-yard game after ripping up Maryland for 138 yards and two scores.
1. Scarlet Knights WR Leonte Carroo, who had five catches and 125 yards versus Indiana, needs 67 yards to reach 1,000 this season.
2. Spartans WR Tony Lippett will shoot for his seventh 100-yard receiving game. His last one came in a 35-11 win over Michigan on Oct. 25 when he caught three passes for 103 yards.
3. Dantonio is in his eighth season at Michigan State, where he is 72-31. The former coach at Cincinnati is 90-48 overall.
Copyright 2014 by ClickOnDetroit.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.