Greg Schiano sees past Spartans struggles this year: ‘They are a traditional Michigan State team’

With three games left in the regular season, if Rutgers is hoping to make a bowl game outright, then Saturday’s game at Michigan State is nothing short of a must-win.

Rutgers (4-5, 1-5 Big Ten) is coming in off an intriguing spot. On Saturday night at SHI Stadium, Rutgers held a 17-14 lead over No. 5 Michigan. But three turnovers in the third quarter led the Scarlet Knights to a 52-17 loss.

In the first half, Rutgers showed that it was capable of playing well against the best in the Big Ten. In the second half, they showed how quickly things can bottom out.

On Saturday against a Michigan State (4-5, 2-4 Big Ten) team that showed up last week and beat a ranked Illinois, there is no doubt that Rutgers is facing a strong roster.

For a Rutgers offense that has struggled at times to move the ball and score points, head coach Greg Schiano said that this will be a tough match-up for his team. Michigan State has talent on the defensive end but has struggled at times to stop teams, giving up 26 points per game.

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That is the fourth-worst average in the Big Ten.

“I think they are very big up front. They are very physical. They are a traditional Michigan State team,” Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano told reporters on Monday.

“Their linebacker, 23 (Darius Shaw), is just a really good player. He’s been playing for a long time. I think he’s the glue to that whole group. They have got a really good secondary. Now, a couple guys are out right now, but who knows, that’s not my purview what — you know, who will be out and when will be out. We are just getting ready for everybody. But I think defensively, they are a unit that is strong and can run.”

In terms of moving the ball, that has been a struggle as well. Michigan State hasn’t found a replacement for running back Kenneth Walker III (who is doing well in the NFL) and wide receiver Jalen Nailor.

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The Spartans are middle of the road in the Big Ten, averaging 24.3 points per game.

“Offensively, they have played a few different running backs. So I think it’s kind of by committee. But quarterback is a returning guy that did very well, and is doing very well, and I think the receiving core, they have some guys that can go up and make the play on the 50/50 ball as well as run by you,” Schiano said.

“So I think it’s a huge challenge. They are always good on special teams. Coach Tucker does a tremendous job in all three phases. I think they really play together complementary football, so it’s going to be a challenge. And especially to go out to their stadium in the weather, it’s going to be an old-fashioned Big Ten game, and we have to be ready for it. We have to be ready to take our game on the road and go win a game in someone else’s stadium.”

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Five things we learned as Rutgers football loses halftime lead, lose to No. 5 Michigan

Rutgers football lost on Saturday to No. 5 Michigan.
Rutgers football lost on Saturday to No. 5 Michigan.

Story originally appeared on Rutgers Wire