It’s back to work for Michigan State football as it takes on Rutgers in New Jersey on Saturday at noon.
We’ll find out a lot about this team as they have had two weeks to prepare for this game. Come out flat and we know the coaching staff treated the bye week as a paid vacation. If they come out swinging, the Spartans can still salvage a decent season but it starts with Rutgers.
Here are three things they need to do to upset the Scarlet Knights.
1. Run the ball, stop the run
This might be the most fundamental strategy to win football games other than score more points than the other team. Running the ball drains clock, has much more ball security, and can crush a team’s spirit if they’re getting dominated at the line of scrimmage.
The key here will hopefully be the offensive line, but more realistically, Nathan Carter. Running success on early downs opens up the playbook at second-and-short which makes play action and easy throws much more manageable for a new quarterback.
On the flip side, forcing Rutgers into obvious passing situations favors the Spartans, believe it or not. Gavin Wimsatt isn’t the guy that’s going to beat you with his arm (I just guaranteed he is going for 270 and three touchdowns). While MSU is 10th in the Big Ten in passing yards per game, Rutgers is 10th in passing yards per game. It’s a battle of mediocrity that should slightly favor the Spartans. The problem? Rutgers averages 4.6 yards per rush attempt (fifth in the Big Ten) which I have been begging for out of MSU.
Both teams are middle of the road when trying to stop the run so it will be a matter of coaching and player execution. On a normal week, this would favor Rutgers, but with the Spartans getting two weeks off to prepare for this game, Michigan State has the ever so slightest advantage.