Around the Big Ten: Michigan State ran strong over a tough Rutgers run defense in weekend win

For the first time all season, Rutgers football struggled against the run. The calling card of the Scarlet Knights’ defense this season has been their ability to consistently stop the run, and that didn’t happen in Saturday’s 27-21 loss at Michigan State.

Had Rutgers been able to contain Michigan State’s backfield duo of Jalen Berger (16 carries, 85 yards and a touchdown) and Jarek Broussard (11 carries, 80 yards), then Saturday’s game could have tipped in a different direction.

Coming into the game, Rutgers was sixth in the Big Ten in rushing yards per attempt and total rushing yards allowed per game. Michigan State had struggled all season to get the running attack in a good rhythm.

It was a rhythm that Berger and Broussard found against Rutgers. The attack from Michigan State was physical, smashmouth Big Ten football.

“I am going to have to study the tape a bit to give you the technical answer. But when I watch a game, I watch the beginning of the game as the head coach and if the running back is falling forward at the beginning of the game more than he is falling backward that is not a good thing, and I felt that way,” Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano said.

“I did not feel like we were getting after the line of scrimmage. And then some balls that got thrown into the secondary, and I do not know, I have to look at everything because we did not look as fast as we normally looked. Maybe it is because we are playing on grass, I do not know. I have questioned that myself during the game, I just said we do not look like ourselves back there.”

Michigan State finished with 197 rushing yards and a more than-healthy 5.6 yards per carry.

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For Michigan State, is a welcome sign of growth as the team is now one win away from bowl eligibility. Rutgers will have to adjust to that in a hurry given that Penn State has a tremendous backfield that includes Nicholas Singleton, a true freshman who topped 100 yards this past weekend in a 30-0 win over Maryland.

“They are just running hard. We have room in the running game. Elijah (Collins) has been able to get in there, and he was effective in the screen game today,” Michigan State head coach Mel Tucker said.

“Guys are just playing hard and executing the game plan. There’s no real significant difference between these guys physically; what they were today as opposed to what they were last week or the week before.”

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Story originally appeared on Rutgers Wire