FINAL: MSU blasts Rutgers 49-0 for first Big Ten victory
Spartan Stadium played host to a match-up that pitted the only two teams in the Big Ten without a conference win yet against each other. One came out hungry for that victory as MSU football (3-7, 1-6 Big Ten) cleaned their plate in an emphatic 49-0 beatdown of Rutgers (2-8, 0-7 Big Ten).
The Spartans were missing some key guys on defense, as starters in junior defensive end Malik McDowell and sophomore cornerback Tyson Smith did not dress for MSU. The Spartans didn’t miss them too much, as they allowed just 149 yards of total offense to the Scarlet Knights, only 40 yards coming through the air.
The defense allowed no points and forced two turnovers in its strongest performance of the season. Rutgers quarterback Giovanni Rescigno, a Michigan native, had his homecoming spoiled, going 6-for-16 for 40 yards and two interceptions.
The Spartans, on the other hand, were able to move the ball effectively and efficiently with both the pass attack and ground game. MSU had 440 yards of total offense (277 rushing, 163 throwing).
MSU jumped out to a 14-0 lead early in the first quarter with a touchdown pass from quarterback Tyler O’Connor to tight end Josiah Price, followed by an interception by Demetrious Cox on Rutgers next possession that he took back for a score. From there, the Spartans continued to pile it on.
Up 35-0 behind three first half touchdown passes from O’Connor –– two of them to Price and one to true freshman Trishton Jackson –– as well as 103 yards and a touchdown from sophomore running back LJ Scott. O’Connor was replaced by junior Damion Terry in the fourth quarter with MSU up 42-0. The fifth-year senior finished the game going 10-15 for 141 yards and three touchdowns.
The rushing game, which has been led by Scott and junior Gerald Holmes this year, added another wrinkle this game in sophomore Madre London. Although Scott led the team with 122 yards on the ground, London was able to weave his way for 52 yards and two touchdowns on nine carries.
MSU led in nearly every statistical category in the game. They improved on a number of areas they struggled with, including red-zone offense, where they converted all five of their opportunities this game into touchdowns. MSU was also only penalized five times for 40 yards after being flagged over 10 times against Illinois the previous week.
The Spartans were led defensively by the linebacking crew, as Chris Frey (six tackles), Riley Bullough (six tackles), and Andrew Dowell (five tackles) were the top three on the team. Rutgers linebacker Deonte Roberts stood out for the Scarlet Knights as he collected 17 tackles.
By the end, MSU was able to get a number of guys into the game who rarely see the field. Sophomore quarterback Colar Kuhns saw his first action of the season in MSU’s final two possessions, and senior running back Nick Tompkins carried the ball three times for 16 yards on MSU’s final possession.
MSU football has finally ended its seven-game losing streak and now looks ahead to senior day next weekend as No. 6 Ohio State comes to East Lansing.