PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Michigan State looks to snap a five-game losing streak and still stay alive for a bowl game when it visits Rutgers for a Big Ten matchup on Saturday. The Spartans are coming off an ugly 44-10 loss to Michigan last weekend and need to win out to be bowl eligible, while the Scarlet Knights have dropped two in a row, including a 56-21 setback to Ohio State last Saturday.
TV: Noon ET, Fox Sports 1. LINE: Rutgers +20
The Michigan State offense has been sputtering over its five-game skid, managing just 61 points total, with 28 of those coming in the first half of a loss to Illinois two weeks ago. Senior quarterback Brian Lewerke should be under center for this one, having thrown for 2,178 yards and 13 touchdowns this season, though there may be a short leash if he struggles early. Rutgers may be feeling a little bit of confidence offensively after scoring 21 on Ohio State last week, including the first touchdown surrendered by the Buckeyes in the first quarter all season. Quarterback Johnny Langan threw for 121 yards and a touchdown against Ohio State, as well as finding the end zone for a rushing score as well.
ABOUT MICHIGAN STATE (4-6, 2-5 Big Ten)
The Michigan State running game has really fallen off in the second half of the season, with the Spartans rushing for 100 yards just once in the last five games when they had 275 yards against Illinois. That was also the one time they’ve scored more than 10 points over the last five games as well, so the correlation is pretty obvious. Freshman Elijah Collins has rushed for 742 yards and five touchdowns, but transfers have taken the Spartans’ depth at the position away, so there aren’t many other options behind Collins other than Lewerke keeping it on designed runs.
ABOUT RUTGERS (2-8, 0-7)
Interim head coach Nunzio Campanile may be down to his last two games in charge of the Scarlet Knights (Greg Schiano seems set to return to the position), but he has the team playing hard despite its 2-8 mark. Rutgers played hard for all four quarters against an obviously superior Ohio State squad, and the team will certainly be ready to give a full effort on Senior Day in Piscataway on Saturday. A number of underclassmen, including Langan, sophomore running back Isaih Pacheco and others will be trying to make a good impression to keep their positions or expand their roles going forward, no matter who is coaching them.
1. Michigan State WR Cody White has 13 catches for 206 yards over the last two games, giving him a career-best 43 receptions on the season.
2. Rutgers LB Tyshon Fogg is third in the Big Ten with 9.2 tackles per game and is eight short of giving the Scarlet Knights a player with at least 100 stops for the 10th straight season.
3. Spartans S Xavier Henderson recorded a career-high nine tackles in the loss to Michigan.
PREDICTION: Michigan State 38, Rutgers 20