Rutgers football battled and had their chances but ultimately fell short on Saturday afternoon. Michigan State beat Rutgers 27-21 in Big Ten action.
Rutgers has now lost two straight games and is 4-6 (1-6 Big Ten). But in this game, Rutgers showed quite a bit despite being a loss.
Freshman quarterback Gavin Wimsatt bounced back from some struggles last week, showing some more polish and poise. Wimsatt threw for two touchdown passes and didn’t turn the ball over once, finishing 20-of-34 for 236 yards.
Wimsatt didn’t have a turnover.
Most impressive for Rutgers was the fact that the Scarlet Knights didn’t hang their heads. They showed fight against adversity but self-inflicted wounds cost Rutgers in this one.
Five things we learned from Rutgers football in Saturday’s game at Michigan State!
The Rutgers offense looks better
After struggling in a loss at Minnesota and then a week ago against Michigan, the Scarlet Knights were better on offense. How much so?
At the half, Rutgers had 200 yards of total offense and 11 first downs. In last week’s loss to No. 3 Michigan, the Rutgers offense managed just five first downs and 180 yards of total offense.
Quarterback Gavin Wimsatt looked more comfortable and improved. The running game got downhill more often and the blocking was improved.
Total offense? It was 25 first downs and 460 yards for Rutgers, both good numbers to see for the Scarlet Knights.
All in all, this was a better advert for interim offensive coordinator Nunzio Campanile’s offense.
Michigan State runs wild against the Rutgers defense
Rutgers came in with a run defense that was sixth in the Big Ten in yards per carry and yards allowed per game. But against Michigan State, the group struggled.
New Jersey native Jalen Berger had 15 carries for 83 yards and Jake Broussard had 11 carries for 80 yards.
At halftime, Michigan State had 111 rushing yards on 19 carries, good for 5.8 yards per carry. The Spartans finished with 200 rushing yards and 448 yards of total offense.
Rutgers struggled to close down gaps and wrap up the runners early.
Kyle Monangai moving mountains
The loss of Samuel Brown V two weeks ago due to injury was devastating news for the Rutgers offense. But Kyle Monangai showed on Saturday afternoon that he is every bit of a Big Ten running back.
Monangai had 95 rushing yards by halftime and showed no signs of letting down, finishing with 162 rushing yards on 24 carries.
It was Monangai’s first-ever game over 100 rushing yards and the most rushing yards for a Rutgers player during their time in the Big Ten.
He lowered his pads well, ran patiently and consistently got yardage after contact. An impressive performance for Monangai.
Flag Day in East Lansing
With 8:12 left in the third quarter, freshman defensive end Kenny Fletcher hit Michigan State quarterback Payton Thorne high. What was frustrating that the penalty came on third-and-7 and with Thorne having thrown the ball away a moment before.
Then there was an offensive pass interference on Sean Ryan in the fourth quarter that backed up Rutgers on a late drive. Three plays later, Rutgers would turn it over on downs.
Such was the afternoon for Rutgers as they sustained Michigan State’s offense with bad penalties. It was 14 penalties for 107 yards for Rutgers. It was a major factor in Saturday’s loss.
What now for Rutgers football?
Rutgers lost on Saturday but big picture, this was a tough one for the Scarlet Knights.
They played better than the previous game against Michigan and the offense was sharper for sure. But now at 4-6, Rutgers has to win their final two games to be bowl eligible.
Now, this was a quality loss for Rutgers. Michigan State was an elite team last season that was a consensus top-10 team by year’s end. Doing so on the road, with a chance to win in the fourth quarter, is some feel-good stuff for Rutgers to build on.