PISCATAWAY, NJ — After losing to the Rutgers last year and spinning the ball seven times, the No. 11 Michigan State has moved into a big game style with its new players. It worked to perfection.
Jalen Naylor ran 63, 63 and 65 yards from Payton Thorne, and Kenneth Walker scored in the school’s record-breaking 94 yards as the Scarlet Knights defeated the Spartans 31-13 on Saturday.
Michigan State (6-0, 3-0 Big Ten) got off to a great start as he won his first eight games as he advanced to the college football playoffs in 2015.
“We have a few playmakers we haven’t seen yet,” Naylor said, with a top 5 goals for 221 yards, a stadium record. “We have a lot of young guys emerging, but it’s getting more in tune with the game book, and we’re still trying to put it all together on one page.”
This defeat was the third in a row for Rutgers (3-3), all against rivals in the rankings. The Scarlet Knights landed 9 -Michigan two weeks ago and 7-Ohio last week. Overall, the Rutgers have dropped 33rd places directly to teams in the rankings since beating No at the time. 23 South Florida 31-0 November 12, 2009.
“I’m looking at this game, we’ve given up on the big games,” Rattjers head coach Greg Shiano said. “We gave up four big performances. We didn’t do that. We didn’t give up big performances. You give up big performances, it’s going to be hard to do anything, right? You’re behind the 8th ball.”
Michigan lost to Rutgers 38-27 at home in Mel Tucker’s debut as coach, rewriting part of his record book in the game, and once for RI Rutgers’ home SHI Stadium.
Walker’s run was the longest offensive game in Michigan State history, entering a game that led all players in the Football Bowl division to run. The previous long run for the Spartans was 90 yards by Lynn Chandnois in 1949 and was against Arizona; their longest stretch game — from Tony Banks to Nigey Carter — was 93 yards in 1994 against Indiana.
Walker finished with a 233-yard run, his second 200-yard game of the season. He averages 913 yards this season, averaging 152.2 yards per game.
Nailor’s 221 receiver broke the 207-year-old stadium mark set in 2003 by Larry Fitzgerald of Pittsburgh.
Thorne finished 27 of 16 with 339 yards and three long TDs for the best career.
This was the fifth time in FBS history that in the same game, the team had a 300-yard passenger, a 200-yard runner and a 200-yard receiver.
“It’s one word. Explosive,” Walker said of Michigan State’s offense, which ran from 588 yards to 377 yards for Rutgers.
The Red Knights took the lead twice. They took a 7-0 lead in a 4-yard pass from Johnny Langan to Aaron Kruikshank after the defenders thwarted a fake pitch in the opening series.
After equalizing the game for the first 63-yard Nyder, Val Ambrosio scored in the 26-yard to put the Red Knights ahead 10-7.
It only took Michigan State five games to regain the lead, with Naylor Rutgers running over the shoulder at 35 and crossing the field to score.
The exchange set up Ambroio’s second short-range goal and reduced the deficit to one, but Thorne and Naylor took the Spartans’ lead in the first game 21-13. Thorne surrendered to Walker, who returned to the quarterback for a long-range pass. Three TD receptions set a school record, the last time Cody White compared to Rutgers two years ago.
Walker opened the game in the middle of the third quarter with a 94-yard run. He went through a huge hole, broke a few games on a Michigan state bench, and approached the last zone and replaced the punch pump with Naylor near the last zone.