Who will keep chopping? That’s the question that will hang in the air Saturday in Piscataway, New Jersey.
Michigan State has chopped its way to a 5-0 start to the season (2-0 in the Big Ten), and a No. 11 national ranking, embracing a phrase long beloved by Rutgers, creating a peculiar subplot for Saturday’s Big Ten showdown.
In progress: Rutgers looking to regain lead entering second quarter
Rutgers takes over at the 20 after the touchback. Game is tied at 7 with 0:44 left in the opening frame.
Noah Vedral fakes a handoff, fakes a pitch, and hits Jovani Haskins for a pickup of 25 to the Rutgers 45.
Aaron Young rushes for 4 yards on the next play, bringing the first quarter to a close.
END 1ST: Michigan State 7, Rutgers 7
Michigan State punts from Rutgers territory
Michigan State takes over at the 17 in a 7-7 game with 2:45 to go in the first.
Kenneth Walker rushes for 3 yards on first down. Payton Thorne hits Tre Mosley on second down for a huge gain of 41 yards that’ll give the Spartans first-and-10 at the Rutgers 39.
Thorne hits Tre Mosley for a gain of 4, and Walker picks up 2 yards on his next carry. Thorne’s next pass is batted into the air and goes right to Jalen Nailor, but he drops it.
Michigan State takes a delay of game before fourth down, and they’ll punt.
Baringer’s punt bounces into the end zone.
Michigan State 7, Rutgers 7 (0:51 1st)
Rutgers can’t convert another third-and-long
Rutgers opens at the 27 after a return by Aron Cruickshank.
Isaih Pacheco rushes for 3 yards on first down; Matt Alaimo comes up with a 13-yard reception on second down to move the sticks.
A holding penalty makes it first-and-20, and Johnny Langan, in at quarterback, is sacked, then fires complete for 6. Noah Vedral’s 8-yard run isn’t enough for a first down.
Adam Korsak’s punt is returned 1 yard to the 17.
Michigan State 7, Rutgers 7 (2:22 1st)
Michigan State answers quickly
Michigan State takes over at the 25.
Kenneth Walker rushes for 12 yards on first down.
Payton Thorne throws a bomb to Jalen Nailor on the next play, and nobody is gonna catch him. He’s gone for a 63-yard touchdown pass. What an answer by the Spartans.
Michigan State 7, Rutgers 7 (6:05 1st)
Rutgers survives early third down to take 7-0 lead
It’s Rutgers ball at the 28 after the fake field goal.
Isaih Pacheco rushes for a yard on first down. Simeon Barrow sacks Noah Vedral on second down for a loss of 9, and on third down, Vedral throws a strike to Aron Cruickshank for 19 yards to get exactly enough yardage needed.
Pacheco carries for 2 on first down, and Vedral takes off for a pickup of 9 to the 50-yard-line, where Rutgers will have a new set of downs.
Rutgers stays on the move: Vedral throws to Jovani Haskins for an 11-yard gain, then after a 2-yard run by Vedral, he takes off again for a 33-yard run to the Michigan State 4. That’ll force Michigan State to regroup.
Timeout #1 Michigan State (6:57 1st)
Cruickshank gets it on the next play and scurries into the end zone for a Rutgers touchdown.
Rutgers 7, Michigan State 0 (6:51 1st)
Michigan State has empty opening drive after fake field goal
Michigan State takes over at the 25 after a touchback.
Kenneth Walker busts it outside on first down for a 14-yard gain on first down, and the Spartans are off and running.
Walker is wrapped up for a loss of 3 on the next play. Payton Thorne delivers a strike to Jalen Nailor on second down for a pickup of 17 to the Rutgers 47, first down.
After a 5-yard pickup from Walker, Thorne goes back to him in the passing game for a 13-yard pickup to the 29. An offsides penalty sets up first-and-5.
Walker is stuffed for no gain, then gets to to make it third-and-3. Walker’s attempt to get to the outside is halted by a diving Rutgers defender for a loss of 3.
Michigan State runs a fake field goal, and it does not go well. Bryce Baringer is chased down by the Rutgers defense to force a turnover on downs.
Michigan State 0, Rutgers 0 (10:55 1st)
The Spartans could be looking to redeem themselves, after fumbling and bumbling their way through seven turnovers in a 38-27 loss to Rutgers in last season’s opener, the start of a 2-5 effort in Mel Tucker’s first campaign as Michigan State’s head football coach.
While Tucker has the Spartans rolling, the Scarlet Knights are 3-2, but off to an 0-2 start in Big Ten play. Rutgers gave Michigan all it wanted in a 20-13 loss in Ann Arbor, before it was throttled last week by Ohio State, 52-13.
Follow along here for live updates from Detroit News contributor Nolan Bianchi.
Michigan State at Rutgers
► Kickoff: Noon Saturday, SHI Stadium, Piscataway, New Jersey
► TV/radio: Big Ten/760
► Line: Michigan State by 4
► Records: No. 11 Michigan State (5-0, 2-0 Big Ten), Rutgers (3-2, 0-2)
► Series: Michigan State leads 8-4 (Last time — October 24, 2020: Rutgers 38, (at) Michigan State 27)