Game Preview Rutgers at No. 10 Michigan State

PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Both coming off newsworthy weekends, Rutgers and Michigan State clash Saturday afternoon at Spartan Stadium for the first time since a 2004 Scarlet Knight upset. Does Rutgers have any shot at a repeat as a major underdog?

Rutgers (6-4, 2-4) at No. 10 Michigan State

Time:Noon, Spartan Stadium, East Lansing, Mich.

TV/Radio: Big Ten Network, 1450 AM WCTC, 710 AM WOR

Series: Rutgers leads 3-2

Last meeting: Sept. 4, 2004, Rutgers won 19-14

Coaches: Rutgers – Kyle Flood (3rd season, 21-15); Michigan State – Mark Dantonio (11th season, 90-48, 8th at Michigan State, 72-31)

Storyline Central

  • The Rundown -- Rutgers still can’t stop the run with 1,208 yards allowed in the last four games. Rutgers only gave up 1,310 during all of last season (blame the porous pass defense for part of that). Michigan State has a strong running game, and a much better defense than Indiana. Rutgers is not going to give up 300 yards on the ground and escape with a victory this week.

  • New Kids on the Block -- Josh Hicks and Robert Martin are the new guys in at running back after a combined 197 yards and four touchdowns against Indiana. But Michigan State is not Indiana. Can the two true freshmen be as physical and explosive against the Spartans? Hicks comes from Florida where freezing rain is not exactly a game condition. Martin is 14 months removed from ACL surgery.

  • Carried By Carroo -- Leonte Carroo is only in his second season playing on the Rutgers line of scrimmage, and his numbers rank among the best career receivers in school history. Carroo needs 67 yards to become the first 1,000-yard receiver since Mohamed Sanu. He needs two touchdowns to tie tight end Marco Battaglia for the single-season touchdown reception mark (10). One touchdown ties him with Mark Harrison for second on the list, and four makes him the school’s all-time leader in career touchdown receptions. Rutgers goes as Carroo goes offensively, and need three big games from the junior to close out 2014.

Matchup to Watch

Rutgers cornerback Gareef Glashen vs. Michigan State receiver Tony Lippett

Lippett is to the Spartans what Carroo is for Rutgers. The senior soon-to-be NFL draft pick is quarterback Connor Cook’s best weapon in the passing game with a similar statistical output to Carroo. Glashen is the best Rutgers has in the secondary, emerging as the most reliable cornerback since Logan Ryan’s departure. Glashen faced off against names like Devin Funchess already, and needs a big game against Lippett with the secondary depleted.

Scarlet Knights Win If…

Michigan State Gets Trapped -- It’s senior day in East Lansing, Mich. The Spartans are back home after cruising to victory over the other Big Ten newcomer. Rutgers needs to come out firing early if the opponents’ heads are elsewhere. Hit one or two “wow” plays and go from there.

Spartans Win If …

They Stick to the Run -- Cook can do it through the air, but the blueprint is out on the Rutgers defense after three straight blowout losses. Ohio State, Nebraska and Wisconsin ran hard at Rutgers, and scored a combined 135 points. Michigan State should do the same.


Impact Player

WR Leonte Carroo – Michigan State is dominant against the run, and Carroo is matchup problem for the best cornerbacks in the country. He scored two more touchdowns in beating Indiana, and is a threat to strike on any given play with his mix of speed and strength.

Something to Prove

S Lorenzo Waters – Rutgers has to be better against the big running plays, and that starts with Waters getting things done at strong safety. Too many times this year, opposing running backs break through the first level and out-angle defenders for major gains. Waters is a big hitter, but needs to be a more consistent tackler.

Looking to Build

LB Kevin Snyder – Snyder looked healthier against Indiana. He moved better after a refreshing bye week. Turn on the tape, and that became clear early. Zander Diamont tried to scramble outside for the first down, but Snyder beat him to the edge and forced a punt.

Freshman to Watch

DE Kemoko Turay – Back on the radar after a handful of stellar plays against Indiana, Rutgers needs the “Kemoko Dragon” to remain in attack mode against one of the best quarterbacks in college football.

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