In the last game of the 2017 regular season, the Spartans head to New Jersey to take on the 4-7 Rutgers Scarlet Knights. The Spartans will likely finish the 2017 regular season with 6 more games in the win column than last season. Although the Spartans should have little trouble beating Rutgers, there is a lot that can be improved upon before they find out their bowl destination.
Offensively, the last two games have not been pretty. After coming off of back to back 400 plus yard games against Northwestern and Penn States, Brian Lewerke has gone just 20-50 for 151 yards combined the last two games against Ohio State and Maryland. Granted, the weather against Maryland was prohibitive to the passing game. Still, the Spartans are going to need to be more consistent in the future. This Saturday should be a great opportunity to let Lewerke air the ball out against the Rutgers defense that is allowing 216.3 yards per game. The Spartans should also be able to build off of last week’s rushing performance against Maryland. The Spartans got L.J. Scott going against Maryland for 147 yards on 29 carries and a touchdown. Rutgers is allowing 179.4 yards on average on the ground, so the Spartans should be able to run the ball effectively. Still, the emphasis this week should be placed on the passing game, to prepare for the bowl game.
For the most part, the Spartans have been solid defensively. The Spartans held Rutgers to just 83 yards rushing and 121 yards through the air. That being said, the rushing defense statistics have taken a hit lately, falling to 16th in the nation after being in the top ten through October. Rutgers is averaging a respectable 159.2 yards per game rushing this season. It would do the Spartans good to limit Rutgers on the ground and improve their rushing defense numbers. It is important to continue to work on the defense, because the Spartans are likely to face a good team in a bowl game. It would be a big confidence booster if the team could get their fourth game this season where the defense does not allow a touchdown.