No. 22 Michigan State looks to make a final case for a possible New Year’s Day bowl game when it travels to Rutgers for the regular-season finale for both squads Saturday. The Spartans are looking to finish strong after an ugly loss to Ohio State and a not-so-pretty win over Maryland, while the Scarlet Knights are hoping to get past last week’s 41-point loss to Indiana.
Michigan State quarterback Brian Lewerke had back-to-back 400-yard passing games a couple weeks ago, but he struggled against the Buckeyes’ defense and with the Michigan weather the last two games, finishing with a combined total of 151 yards through the air. The Spartans’ defense comes off a strong performance in the win over Maryland, holding the Terrapins to 204 yards of total offense, and last season, MSU shut out Rutgers 49-0. The Scarlet Knights’ offense has struggled to score in Big Ten play, finishing with 17 or fewer points in six of their eight contests. Quarterback Giovanni Rescigno is looking to bounce back from a difficult showing against Indiana, as he went 8-of-14 for 67 yards as Rutgers finished with 190 yards of total offense.
TV: 4 pm. ET. Fox. LINE: Michigan State -13.5
ABOUT MICHIGAN STATE (8-3, 6-2 Big Ten): The Spartans are hoping to get back to a balanced offense this week after last week’s run-heavy attack because of snowy conditions in East Lansing. Running back LJ Scott had a career-high 29 carries for 147 yards and the Spartans rushed the ball 51 times compared to just 14 pass attempts. Lewerke even got into the act with 63 yards on the ground, though some better weather should bring back the Spartans’ aerial attack that proved so potent against Northwestern and Penn State in late October and early November.
ABOUT RUTGERS (4-7, 3-5): There is some sentiment around the program that true freshman quarterback Johnathan Lewis should get the majority of the playing time under center against the Spartans. Lewis has played in four games this season, passing for 69 yards and rushing 32 times for 109 yards, but he’s thought of as the team’s quarterback of the future, and many are ready for the future to be now. Coach Chris Ash is still planning on starting Rescigno, but if the Knights struggle to move to ball early on, it wouldn’t be surprising if Lewis comes into the game to provide a spark.
1. Michigan State DE Kenny Willekes tied his career high with two sacks and three tackles for loss against Maryland, and is currently tied for second in the Big Ten with 0.64 sacks per game.
2. Rutgers is 27th in the country in interceptions with 12, led by S Kly Hester and S Jawuan Harris, who each have three.
3. The Spartans’ 20 yards passing against Maryland was the fewest in a single game since the team had 13 in a 1987 win over Iowa.
PREDICTION: Michigan State 38, Rutgers 12