Michigan State Spartans vs. Rutgers Scarlet Knights Picks and Game Preview -- 10/09/2021

by Big Al Staff

Game time: Noon ET, October 9, 2021
Venue: SHI Stadium, Piscataway, NJ
Where to watch: Big Ten Network

Opening Odds at USA Sportsbooks


DraftKings: NL
BetMGM: NL
Caesars: Michigan State -5

Season record
No. 11 Michigan State: 5-0 (2-0 Big Ten)
Rutgers: 3-2 (0-2 Big Ten)

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Michigan State - Rutgers preview and analysis


Recent form
Michigan State: won 48-31 vs. Western Kentucky on Oct. 2
Rutgers: lost 52-13 vs. No. 7 Ohio State on Oct. 2 

One of the more dangerous passing attacks put up 488 yards and 31 points against the Michigan State Spartans.

Michigan State still dominated and covered.

No. 11 Michigan State will hit the road for the first time in three weeks when they face the Rutgers Scarlet Knights in New Jersey on Saturday.

The Spartans are coming off a near-perfect day against the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers. Despite quarterback Bailey Zappe throwing 64 times for 488 yards and three scores, Spartans stars Payton Thorne and Kenneth Walker III combining for 453 yards paced Michigan State for 48 points and a cover.

It's the best start since 2015 for the Spartans and head coach Mel Tucker has his team playing at an all-around great level. Michigan State has averaged close to 38 points per game, while the offense is putting up nearly 467 yards per game.

A large bulk of that has been by way of solid quarterback play from Thorne (11 TD, 1 INT), but Walker III is likely the best running back in the country, averaging 6.8 yards per carry to go with eight touchdowns.

MSU will be facing a Rutgers defense that's averaged 318 yards per game, but is coming off a 39-point loss to the Ohio State Buckeyes. The Knights have lost consecutive conference games (Michigan and Ohio State) after starting 3-0, so expect this defense to get tested more in that regard.

Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud torched Rutgers going 17 of 23 for 330 yards and five touchdowns. The game was over by halftime with Rutgers down 45-6, and Ohio State covering by the first quarter.

Rutgers quarterback Noah Vedral threw three interceptions against what was considered a struggling Ohio State defense as of late. Despite being at home, it's not going to be any easier against Michigan State.

Prediction


Rutgers' 3-0 start was a nice story, but Michigan State is proving to be a tough test in this Big Ten conference. Four teams are already occupying the top-10, but a win and a slip-up elsewhere will get them back in it. Just need to see more from Rutgers to think they'll last, but not this time. Michigan State by 14

Betting trends


Michigan State has won its last two ATS as a road favorite.

Rutgers is 3-8 ATS as a home dog in its last 11, but 1-10 straight up as a home dog. 

Players to watch


Michigan State: Look for receiver Jalen Nailor to also get a decent look entering this matchup. Last week, Nailor had a team-high eight receptions for 128 yards, while leading receiver Jayden Reed hauled in four receptions for 127 yards and a touchdown.

Rutgers: There wasn’t much to celebrate for Rutgers last week, but Aron Cruickshank was a major brightspot. He had three receptions for 102 yards and a 75-yard touchdown to make it somewhat look easy on Sunday morning.

Statistical leaders


Michigan State:
Passing: Payton Thorne -- 1,236 yards, 11 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Kenneth Walker III -- 680 yards, 8 TD
Receiving: Jayden Reed -- 463 yards, 5 TD

Rutgers:
Passing: Noah Vedral -- 914 yards, 6 TD, 3 INT
Rushing: Isaih Pacheco -- 267 yards, 3 TD
Receiving: Bo Melton -- 253 yards, 2 TD

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