In the midst of a five game losing streak, Michigan State was on the road to face lowly Rutgers, needing wins in their final two games in order to become bowl eligible.
While Saturday’s game was far from perfect for Michigan State, the Spartans easily picked up their first win since September 28th (a 31-10 win over Indiana), rolling the Scarlett Knights, 27-0.
It was the Spartans first road shut out win in 20 years, the last being November 13, 1999 at Northwestern. Elijah Collins is the first Spartan freshman to record three 100-yard rushing games since Javon Ringer in 2005.
After Michigan State’s first drive stalled out in Rutgers territory, the Spartans found the end zone on their second drive as a 21-yard pass from senior quarterback Brian Lewerke to Cody White capped off a 7-play, 64-yard drive to put Michigan State on top, 7-0.
Michigan State (5-6 overall; 3-5 Big Ten) would extend the lead to 10-0 behind a Matt Coghlin field goal later in the first quarter, but the Michigan State offense again struggled mightily on its next three possessions.
After going 3-and-out to start the second quarter, Michigan State’s next drive would begin at the Rutgers’ 15-yard line following a Xavier Henderson interception, putting the Spartans in position to again widen their lead. But instead, shaky playcalling and execution resulted in another quick 3-and-out and a missed field goal.
The next Michigan State drive would move inside Rutgers territory for the fourth time of the afternoon, but the Spartans would be turned away after being stopped on 4th-and-1 for a second time.
But the Spartans would manage to get back on track offensively late in the first half as the Michigan State 2-minute offense easily moved the ball down the field against the Rutgers defense, with a 7-play, 77-yard drive ended with a 16-yard touchdown pass from Lewerke to White.
Saturday proved to be a career day for White in the first half alone, as the junior wide receiver hauled in nine catches for 117 yards and two scores before halftime. White finished the day with 11 catches for 139 yards and three touchdowns.
Michigan State was able to move the ball efficiently throughout the third quarter but managed just three points with a Lewerke interception in the Rutgers end zone being to blame for the Spartans not having a bigger output in the quarter.
Some of Michigan State’s issues on offense were a simple case of being more of the same that plagued the Spartans recently, but the Spartan offense lacked consistency and continuity throughout, which can be blamed on the lineup shuffling throughout the game on offense, mixing the younger players into the rotation.
One of the strange decisions made by the coaching staff was their decision to start true freshman Devontae Dobbs at left tackle, only to substitute him in and out of the lineup all day long, despite Dobbs playing at a high level throughout the game.
After an up-and-down third quarter, Michigan State put the game out of reach as Lewerke and White connected for a third touchdown, this time from seven yards out as White made a one-handed grab behind his body and walked into the end zone to push the Michigan State lead to 27-0 in the early stages of the fourth quarter.
Lewerke finished the afternoon with 239 yards and three touchdowns on 21-of-30 passing and threw just one interception, which was the result of a dropped pass. Elijah Collins rushed for 109 yards on a workman-like 31 carries.
With the win, Michigan State keeps its bowl game hopes alive, needing a win over Maryland next week at Spartan Stadium to become bowl eligible.
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