East Lansing, Mich. —The administration went back and forth with the hiring of Greg Schiano and finally both sides were able to come to an agreement.
Schiano and his coaching staff want to draw the state’s top recruits to RU. They want the Scarlet Knights to keep those players home and the one thing Schiano does well is recruit.
The second time around couldn’t have been scripted any better for Rutgers, the Scarlet Knights pounced on Michigan State from the opening snap, forcing seven turnovers, including five fumbles, struggled to keep their quarterback upright, dropped passes, missed tackles, and generally got outmuscled off the ball by RU offensive line. The Scarlet Knights finish with a 38-27 win over Michigan State on Saturday.
With the win, the Scarlet Knight snapped a 21-game losing streak that extended back to 2017.
Noah Vedral, the transfer from Nebraska, got the start and played well. The grad transfer went 18-of-29 for 169 yards with one touchdown through the air and another on the ground. Verdral gave the RU the boost it needed it desperately needed on the offensive side of the ball.
Rutgers scored 14 points total through their first five Big Ten games last year. It took them 8:03 to reach that mark on Saturday. Pacheco ran it in from 12 yards out to finish the game’s opening drive, and then Michigan State (0-1) receiver Jaydeen Reed fumbled the ball away on his team’s first offensive play.
RU (1-0) didn’t take advantage on that turnover, but the Scarlet Knights forced another immediately. Rocky Lombardi got hit hard by Mohamded Toure and fumbled, giving Rutgers the ball at the Spartans 1-yard line. A quarterback draw from Johnny Langan made it 14-0.
But Vedral made some huge passes when Rutgers needed to keep the drives going — a 25-yard pass to Bo Melton on the first drive of the game, a 30-yard pass to Aron Cruickshank on a second-and-7 from Rutgers’ 23 in the fourth quarter. He was comfortable in the pocket all game long.
Jayden Reed scored on a 50-yard catch-and-run on fourth down to make it 14-7, but MSU kept turning the ball over. Defensive back Tre Avery later picked off a pass in front of the Spartans sidelines that led to a 24-yard touchdown run by Rutgers quarterback Noah Vedral.
Pacheco scored on a 3-yard run in the final minute of the half, and Rutgers led 28-13 after two quarters. MSU lost another fumble near midfield on its first possession of the third quarter.
The Scarlet Knights lost two fumbles in its own territory in the third quarter. Lombardi threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to receiver Jalen Nailor to make it 28-20, but the Spartans didn’t capitalize on the second of those takeaways, getting stopped on fourth down from the Rutgers 21 yard line.
The Scarlet Knights drove the other way for a field goal that gave them an 11-point lead. Another MSU fumble — a muffed punt with 6:57 left — essentially sealed the game, although the teams traded late touchdowns after that, and Lombardi threw an interception to Brendan White, a transfer from Ohio State that sealed the win in the final minute.
Not only was the Scarlet Knights’ defense forcing turnover after turnover, but it also significantly limited Michigan State’s ground game. Plain and simple Rutgers were tougher in the trenches, especially on the defensive side, where former Michigan transfer Michael Dwunfour and company clogged up MSU’s running game.
The Spartans finished with just 60 rushing yards on the ground.
Linebacker Tyshon Fogg finished with 12 tackles, and overall Rutgers’ defense finished out plays.
“I’m really proud of our guys. Our coaching staff, our support staff, and most of all, our players. They have worked incredibly hard in a very difficult environment, for a long time. Starting back sometime in early June, and now playing in late October, that’s a lot of hard work and a lot of starting and stopping. I’m just very proud of our guys. It’s great to get started with a victory, but we need to make sure we keep it all in perspective.” Rutgers head coach Schiano said.
This was signature win for the program that saw Schiano return nine years after leaving the school to coach the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.