Rapid Reaction: Michigan State closes in on bowl game with win over Rutgers
Final Score: Michigan State 27, Rutgers 21
Brief Recap: It goes without saying, this season has not gone as hoped for Michigan State. However, the Spartans are now on the doorstep of at least getting into a bowl game after knocking off Rutgers in Week 11.
Mel Tucker’s squad saw the season hop off the rails early on with some key injuries and blowout losses early in the season. Then, after some bounce-back performances, things took another ugly turn in the Michigan Stadium tunnel during Week 9.
Since that incident, the Spartans have responded with impressive resolve, upsetting Illinois in Champaign last weekend and doing enough to control the game against Rutgers in Week 11. Despite things getting close at 14-7 heading into halftime, Michigan State controlled much of the second half and used some big throws to Jayden Reed to get things rolling.
The good news for the Scarlet Knights is that Gavin Wimsatt had the best outing of his young career while Kyle Monangai had over 100 yards rushing against the Spartans. Unfortunately, the Scarlet Knights committed 11 penalties and could not get stops when needed.
Key Player: One of the players that was absent or limited for some of Michigan State’s early struggles this season was wide receiver, Jayden Reed. Since getting fully healthy, he has made a big difference with the offense.
In Saturday’s game against Rutgers, Reed had just 4 touches but made the most of each one. His 4 catches went for 90 yards and a touchdown with one early contested grab setting up another touchdown for the Spartans.
Michigan State did contribute a lot of damage in its ground game against Rutgers, but having to respect Reed and his ability to do damage over the top paid off in a big way for the Spartans.
Key Stat: 6.2, yards per carry from the Spartans on the ground against Rutgers. Michigan State carried the ball 32 times with Jalen Berger and Jarek Broussard nearly an equal split on carries out of the backfield. Both players were productive with Berger scoring a touchdown in the game.
What it means moving forward: After an 11-win season, 2022 has been a much different story for Mel Tucker’s program. However, the Spartans now have a great chance to reach the postseason with a 5-5 record and 2 games remaining.
All it will take for Michigan State to reach the postseason is a win against either Indiana in Week 12 or against Penn State in the regular-season finale. While the Nittany Lions present a tough challenge, Michigan State should be heavily favored against Indiana.
As for Rutgers, reaching a bowl game is a tall task. The Scarlet Knights will need wins over Penn State and Maryland to get to 6 wins, though there may be an outside chance of a bowl game with a 5-7 record if Rutgers can win 1 of 2.