Michigan State has had fast starts in almost every game this season including last week when Jayden Reed returned a punt for a touchdown before the Michigan State offense even stepped on the field following Western Kentucky's opening possession. Rutgers on the counter part have no given up a point in the fourth quarter so far this season which makes it pivotal for the Spartans to get an early lead on Rutgers.
Air it out
Payton Thorne has been quietly one of the most productive quarterbacks in the country with 11 touchdown passes and just one interception. As Kenneth Walker gets keyed in on more and more throughout the season, airing it out especially against a somewhat weak Rutgers secondary is crucial.
Linebackers stepping up
The Spartans lost Cal Haladay for the first half this week after a very questionable targeting call last week against Western Kentucky. The supporting cast of Ben VanSumeren, Ma'a Gaotee and Noah Harvey will have to pick up the slack at least in the first half in Haladay's absence.
Last week Michigan State played a very pass heavy Western Kentucky team that got their fair share of yards. Rutgers isn't as pass heavy as Western Kentucky but they do rely on throwing it more than they do on the ground. Xavier Henderson will have to lead the team in the secondary once again as Charles Brantley, Chester Kimbrough, and Angelo Grose hold up the rest of the secondary.
Special teams comes through again
There's no question that special teams have been one of the reasons Michigan State sits at 5-0 so far. Matt Coughlin and Bryce Barringer have been brilliant in the kicking department making big momentum shifting plays. Jayden Reed has been electric in the return game as well. I can see Coughlin having to make a couple big kicks if Rutgers slows down the offense which could be a huge momentum shift.