Brian Lewerke threw for a touchdown and ran for another and No. 21 Michigan State held the ball for more than 47 minutes in defeating Rutgers 40-7 on Saturday to cap a terrific turnaround season.
Redshirt freshman Matt Coghlin kicked a career-best four field goals and Gerald Holmes ran 2 yards for a touchdown as Michigan State (9-3, 7-2 Big Ten, CFP No. 16) flipped its overall record from a year ago.
This was a dominant performance by Mark Dantonio's team. Michigan State had the ball for 47:50, had a 431-112 advantage in total yards and limited Scarlet Knights' running game to a season-low 14 yards in sending Rutgers (4-8, 3-6) to its third straight loss.
Still, this was a better season for Rutgers coach Chris Ash, who endured a 2-10 overall record and an 0-9 conference record in his first season. Freshman Johnathan Lewis stepped in late in the first quarter and threw a 42-yard touchdown pass to Raheem Blackshear that pulled the Scarlet Knights (4-8, 3-6) within 16-7 at halftime despite having the ball less than six minutes.
Lewerke (21 of 31 for 222 yards) hit Connor Heyward on a 7-yard touchdown pass on the opening series and ran 3 yards for another TD in the fourth quarter. He had 13 carries for 56 yards and finished the season with 3,069 total yards, breaking the school record for a sophomore, previously held by Connor Cook (2013).Coghlin converted from 26, 26, 46 and 32 yards.
Michigan State: Going 3-9 a year ago resulted in the Spartans missing a bowl game for the first time since 2006. There is a chance they could be picked to play in the Outback Bowl in Tampa, Florida on Jan. 1.
Michigan State: Will wait to next week to find out where it is headed.
Rutgers: Season over. Open next year at home against Texas State, which finished 2-10.