Michigan State vs. Rutgers Odds, Picks, Preview: Betting Value on Big Ten Over/Under (October 9)

Michigan State vs. Rutgers Odds, Picks, Preview: Betting Value on Big Ten Over/Under (October 9) article feature image

Nic Antaya/Getty Images. Pictured: Michigan State running back Kenneth Walker III.

Michigan State vs. Rutgers Odds

Michigan State Odds -5
Rutgers Odds +5
Moneyline -200 / +170
Over/Under 50
Time 12 p.m. ET
TV Big Ten Network
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

The 11th-ranked Michigan State Spartans look to remain undefeated when they travel to Piscataway, N.J. to battle the Rutgers Scarlet Knights.

The Spartans are off to an unexpected 5-0 start under second-year head coach Mel Tucker, earning wins against Miami (Fla.) and Nebraska.

Last season, Michigan State suffered a 38-27 defeat against Rutgers, losing to the program for the first time since it joined the Big Ten. So, the Spartans will be looking for some revenge and potentially crack the top 10 in the national rankings.

Head coach Greg Schiano had the Scarlet Knights off to a fantastic start after three weeks, but his squad was blown out this past weekend in a 52-13 home setback against his old employer in Ohio State.

Although Rutgers has improved from seasons past, it’s still 3-8 in the Big Ten dating back to last season.

Safe to say, beating a top-15 team at home could be a program-defining win for Schiano in his second tenure at the school.

Michigan State vs. Rutgers Betting Preview

Saturday, Oct. 9
12 p.m. ET
BIg Ten Network

Michigan State Spartans

Michigan State Offense

This isn’t the same ground-and-pound, eat-up-the-clock offense that we were used to seeing under former head coach Mike Dantonio.

Michigan State is currently 34th in the country in plays per minute, and its offense showed why it’s so effective last weekend when it absolutely torched the Western Kentucky defense for 7.1 yards per play and 10.9 yards per pass attempt.

The passing offense has been much improved, especially from a Success Rate standpoint, as the Spartans rank inside the top 50 in Passing Success Rate with Payton Thorne under center.

Last year, they were outside the top 90.

The Spartans are still running 55.10% of the time, but dominating the line of scrimmage. Michigan State ranks 12th in Offensive Line Yards, fifth in Rushing Success Rate and eighth in run blocking, per PFF.

Because of that kind of success, running back Kenneth Walker III is leading the country in yards.

This is a great look at what makes @MSU_Football star @Kenneth_Walker9 so good. 😱 pic.twitter.com/DVII51E2eM

— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) October 3, 2021

The Spartans should be able to run all over Rutgers’ front seven that allowed 5.6 yards per carry last weekend against Ohio State.

Michigan State Defense

While the offense has been incredibly efficient, the defense has had its issues.

The Spartans rank 86th in Success Rate Allowed. They’re especially struggling up front, ranking outside the top 65 in Rushing Success Rate Allowed, defensive Line Yards and stuff rate. That’s going to be a problem against the Scarlet Knights, who have a top-45 rush offense in terms of Success Rate and offensive Line Yards.

The Spartans currently rank 30th in coverage, per PFF, but allow 6.9 yards per attempt and rank 126th in Passing Success Rate Allowed.

One advantage Michigan State will have over Rutgers is it doesn’t allow big plays, ranking 24th this season, while Rutgers is dead last in college football.

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Rutgers Scarlet Knights

Rutgers Offense

The Rutgers offense is better than it has been in years past, but still nowhere near being an average Big Ten offense.

However, the Scarlet Knights are top 45 in Rushing Success Rate, offensive Line Yards and stuff rate.

Top back Isaih Pacheco was held to only eight yards rushing against Ohio State since Rutgers fell behind early and had to abandon the run game. However, two weeks ago, Pacheco ran for more than 100 yards and 5.4 yards per carry in the Big House against Michigan.

So, if Rutgers can get him going against Michigan State’s front seven, it might have a shot at pulling off the upset.

Noah Vedral has made improvements from 2020, as he’s averaging 6.6 yards per attempt, which is up from 5.7 last season and does have an adjusted completion percentage of 71.3%, which is the same as Bo Nix and Spencer Petras this season, per PFF.

While the Rutgers passing attack does rank 91st in Success Rate, it might find more success Saturday, since it’s going up against a pretty poor secondary from a Success Rate standpoint.

Rutgers Defense 

Greg Schiano’s defense faced its first elite rushing offense of the season last weekend and got exposed.

The Buckeyes ran for more than 200 yards and 5.6 yards per carry, which is not a good sign when Walker III is coming to town.

All TreVeyon Henderson does is hit home runs



— PFF College (@PFF_College) October 2, 2021

The Scarlet Knights’ defense has been good from a Success Rate standpoint, ranking inside the top 25 overall this season, but have real issues giving up explosive plays.

Rutgers ranks 75th in rushing explosiveness allowed and 90th in passing explosiveness allowed, which is a problem since Michigan State has the 12th-most big plays already this season.

Schiano’s defense is also having a lot of problems keeping teams out of the end zone once they cross the 40-yard line. The Scarlet Knights are 94th nationally in Finishing Drives, while Michigan State’s offense is 18th.

Schiano has a tall task ahead of him trying to slow down the Spartans’ offense.

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Michigan State vs. Rutgers Matchup Analysis

Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Michigan State and Rutgers match up statistically:

Michigan State Offense vs. Rutgers Defense




Rush Success
Line Yards
Pass Success
Pass Blocking**
Big Play
Finishing Drives
**Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Rutgers Offense vs. Michigan State Defense




Rush Success
Line Yards
Pass Success
Pass Blocking**
Big Play
Finishing Drives
**Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling
PFF Coverage
Middle 8
SP+ Special Teams
Plays per Minute
Rush Rate
57.8% (46)
56.5% (54)

Data via College Football Data, FootballOutsiders, SP+, PFF and SportSource Analytics.

Michigan State’s rushing attack, led by Walker III, has massive advantages over the Scarlet Knights’ front seven, especially on the offensive line.

Thorne has also shown much better ability in the passing game than Rocky Lombardi did last season, throwing for 9.5 yards per attempt and earning a 76.1 passing grade, per PFF.

On the flip side, although Michigan State’s defense held Miami and Nebraska to a total of 37 points, it’s really struggling from a Success Rate standpoint both in the rushing and passing game.

Rutgers should be able to move the ball better than it did against Ohio State.

Michigan State vs. Rutgers Betting Pick

The total for this game has been jumping around a bit. It opened at 50.5, went up 51.5 on Monday and now has dropped all the way down to 49.5 on FanDuel.

I have 59.06 points projected for this game, so I think there’s value on the total over 49.5 points and would play it up to 52.5 points.

Pick: Over 49.5 points

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