Rutgers not looking past mistake-prone Michigan State

Rutgers aims to move closer to bowl eligibility when it hosts mistake-prone Michigan State in Big Ten action on Saturday in Piscataway, N.J.

Rutgers (4-2, 1-2) opened league play with a 24-7 win over Northwestern on Sept. 3 and then took a 31-7 loss at No. 2 Michigan on Sept. 23. After rebounding with an easy 52-3 victory over visiting Wagner, the Scarlet Knights underwhelmed in last Saturday’s 24-13 loss at Wisconsin.

Rutgers trailed 17-0 at halftime before Aaron Young caught a 10-yard touchdown pass from Evan Simon early in the third quarter. Simon was filling in for Gavin Wimsatt, who threw a 95-yard pick-6 just before halftime and was briefly in the medical tent.

Wimsatt returned to throw an 11-yard TD to Ian Strong late in the fourth and is expected to start Saturday against Michigan State (2-3, 0-2).

Rutgers coach Greg Schiano said his team shouldn’t look past the struggling Spartans despite an upcoming date with No. 3 Ohio State.

“To me, every game is you give it every single thing you’ve got,” Schiano said. “If you start looking at this game is more important than that game, if I coach different against Wagner than I did against Wisconsin, then shame on me, they should get rid of me. The preparation is the same. The attitude’s the same. The focus is the same.

“That’s what professionals do, and that’s what I fully expect from our staff every week. This is a big game. It’s a Big Ten game. They are all big.”

Michigan State has been outscored 98-32 in its three-game losing streak, capped by a 26-16 setback at Iowa in its most recent game on Sept. 30.

The Spartans had a six-point lead early in the third but gave up the final 16 points, including a 70-yard punt return touchdown. Noah Kim was intercepted three times, prompting a potential change at quarterback this week to either Katin Houser or Sam Leavitt.

The Spartans have committed nine turnovers in their past two games and 12 overall.

“We have to cut down on our turnovers,” interim coach Harlon Barnett said. “If we do that, we win the previous two games actually because we outgained them in yards and time of possession but that turnover battle is what got us.”