Week 13 Big Ten: Rutgers at Michigan State

    Rutgers (6-4) at Michigan State (8-2) Nov. 22, 12:00, BTN Here’s The Deal: Michigan State needs a minor miracle to get into the Big Ten championship,

    November 21, 2014

    Rutgers (6-4) at Michigan State (8-2) Nov. 22, 12:00, BTN 

    Here’s The Deal: Michigan State needs a minor miracle to get into the Big Ten championship, hoping beyond all reasonable hope for Ohio State to lose at home to both Indiana and Michigan, while needing to get by this week’s game at Rutgers and next week’s regular season finale at Penn State. Since the Buckeyes aren’t going to lose twice, now it’s about style points for the Spartans, pushing for one of the New Year’s Day bowl games with the argument that the two losses came to – potentially – two playoff-caliber teams. If Oregon and Ohio State win their respective conference titles, 10-2 MSU will have a great case to get into one of the big bowls. 

    Rutgers is now looking for gravy. It already locked up bowl eligibility with a win over Indiana, but the team could use a signature victory with the best win so far this year coming against Michigan. The run defense has been rocky, the offense has been hit-or-miss, and the blowouts against the better teams like Nebraska, Ohio State and Wisconsin have been ugly. If the Scarlet Knights can get by MSU, all of a sudden, the six-win campaign starts to become an impressive seven-win inaugural year in the Big Ten complete with a win over the defending conference champions. 

    This is the sixth meeting between the two, with Rutgers winning the last time 19-14 in the 2004 opener. The Scarlet Knights are 3-2 all-time, starting with a win in the 1988 opener, and now it’s going to be an annual part of the Big Ten East world. 

    Why Rutgers Might Win: The Scarlet Knights might not put up big passing yards, but they don’t make a slew of big mistakes and they’re able to push the ball downfield a little bit. Nothing seemed to work against Wisconsin, but there weren’t any problems against Indiana and there were plenty of big plays in the loss to Nebraska. The passing game has cranked out 190 yards or more in every game but two – the win over Navy and the loss to Wisconsin – and it should be able to throw well against a Michigan State defense that’s quietly allowing a ton of passing yards. The Spartan secondary makes up for mistakes with plenty of interceptions – 13 on the year including three last week against Maryland – but it also allowed 246 yards to the Terps after giving up 300 to Ohio State. 

    Why Michigan State Might Win: Start running and get running. Everyone is getting fat on the Rutgers run defense that’s allowed 292 yards or more in each of the last four games. It started out the year well, and then came the nasty part of the schedule and then came the problems. Ameer Abdullah, Melvin Gordon, and Tevin Coleman all padded the stats, and Jeremy Langford should be in for a huge day. The Spartan star has topped the 100-yard mark seven games in a row with 11 touchdowns in the last four games, and he shouldn’t have a problem keeping the production going this week. 

    Who To Watch Out For: With top running back Desmon Peoples out, more than ever, the Rutgers offense is going to fall on Leonte Carroo, the team’s leading receiver who continues to shine despite being keyed on weekly. He was banged up a bit and held in check by Wisconsin, but he has three 100-yard games in his last four, hitting Indiana for 125 yards and two touchdowns last week on five catches. Michigan State has ways of taking away top targets, and if Carroo isn’t impressive, Rutgers doesn’t have a shot. 

    What’s Going To Happen: Michigan State will run, run, and run some more, controlling the time of possession by a wide margin and owning the game from the start. Rutgers will throw well, but the ground attack won’t go anywhere. 

    Prediction: Michigan State 40 … Rutgers 17 
    Line: Michigan State -22 o/u: 58.5 
    Must Watch Factor: 5: HBO’s State of Play – 1: Euros of Hollywood … 2.5 


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