By: Aidan Champion
Michigan State football continues to climb in the AP rankings week after week and now finds itself at No. 11.
MSU comes off a big win against Western Kentucky that showed the best and the worst of the Spartans. Like it did in its first two weeks, MSU came out dominant right out of the gates with wide receiver Jayden Reed scoring on an 88-yard punt return. It was his second-straight game scoring a TD off a punt return.
The Spartans held a solid 42-16 halftime lead, but let up in the second half, as it only put up six points on the board.
It was MSU’s bend, but don’t break defensive mindset that allowed it to keep its distant lead throughout. Despite letting Hilltopper quarterback Bailey Zappe lead the Western Kentucky offense up and down the field, MSU held its own, forcing WKU to settle for three field goals after big marches.
The defensive effort from the Spartans was far from ideal, as it had been in games prior. At the end of the day, though, MSU is winning and comes into Week 6 with a perfect 5-0 record.
Mel Tucker and company will head on the road to face Rutgers on Saturday for their first Big Ten away contest since Week 1’s win at Northwestern.
Rutgers enters the matchup having just been blown out by No. 7 Ohio State in Piscataway. The Scarlet Knights had been looking promising in weeks prior, especially after giving a ranked Michigan team trouble in Week 4. But a game against the best team in the conference ultimately had the same result that most had likely predicted before the start of the season.
Rutgers couldn’t get anything going on its home turf, especially on the ground. The only notable performance from the Scarlet Knights was that of wide receiver Aron Cruickshank, who recorded 102 receiving yards and a TD on just three receptions.
The mission for MSU on Saturday is simple: go into Piscataway and dominate from start to finish. The Spartans have had back-to-back poor second half outings, and that’s something that needs to be fixed quickly as they near a much more gruesome half of their season.
Should MSU see the Scarlet Knights team that had 21 first downs against Michigan, there’s a very good chance the Spartans could allow Rutgers to take advantage of its inconsistent defense.
MSU constantly has trouble in its secondary every week. Quarterbacks seem to seize their moment whenever they go up against the Spartan defense, and MSU needs to do whatever it can to put an end to that.
Some of the Big Ten’s best offenses await the Spartans in these coming weeks. Should MSU clean up that area of its game, there will be a lot less pressure it has to endure.
Two conference road games and a bye week precede the Spartans’ anticipated meeting with Michigan. Some big kinks need to be fixed before then, and now is the opportunity.
MSU faces off against Rutgers at SHI Stadium on Saturday at noon.
Written by: Aidan Champion
Aidan is an MSU Journalism Student and Spartan Football writer for: impact89fm.org
Photo Courtesy of The Detroit Free Press