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MSU vs. Rutgers preview: Home finale spurs Spartans

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News

Rutgers: Players to watch

Gary Nova, QB: The senior is the third quarterback to throw for more than 8,000 career yards for the Scarlet Knights. He is 10th in the nation among active quarterbacks with 8,619 passing yards and has thrown for 300 yards or more six times, third in school history. His 67 TDs are the most in Rutgers history and he ranks third in the Big Ten this season with 16.

Leonte Carroo, WR: The junior is 18th nationally and second in the Big Ten with 933 yards, and his eight TDs are second in the Big Ten and 14th in the country. Carroo leads all players in the Big Ten with 20.3 yards per reception, and has had five 100-yard games this season. He is also fourth in Rutgers history with 17 career TDs in 20 games. Carroo also provides a deep threat — he leads the Big Ten with 12 receptions of 25 yards or more.

Kemoko Turay, DE: The redshirt freshman is tied for third in the Big Ten and 23rd in the nation with 7.5 sacks, and is the first Rutgers player since 2010 to record multiple sacks in consecutive games. He also is tied for the lead in the nation with three blocked kicks, including one in the final seconds to preserve a victory over Michigan.

Intangibles

Last chance: Today is the final home game for 18 seniors who are the second winningest class in school history. Victories in their final two games and a win a bowl would tie the group with last season's seniors for the most victories (42) in Michigan State history. In addition to last season's Big Ten championship, the 2014 class has won three straight bowls.

Another first: Michigan State has a somewhat recent history with Rutgers, splitting a pair of games with the home teams winning each time. But this is the first time the teams meet in a conference game.

Eye on the prize: While Michigan State is out of the College Football Playoff running and would need an improbable collapse from Ohio State to reach the Big Ten championship game, there is still a shot at playing in a CFP bowl.

Close to home … sort of: Michigan State has three players on the roster from New Jersey — junior defensive end Shilique Calhoun, fifth-year senior defensive tackle James Kittredge and freshman running back Gerald Owens.

Building momentum: The Michigan State defense had one of its worst games in the loss to Ohio State, but bounced back with a solid performance against Maryland, allowing 6 yards rushing.

Facts and figures

■ The 6 rushing yards allowed last week against Maryland were the fewest allowed by Michigan State this season. It was the sixth time in 10 games Michigan State has held its opponent to less than 100 yards rushing and the fourth time less than 50 yards.

■ Last week's victory over Maryland was the 50th for Michigan State since the start of the 2010 season, the most in the Big Ten and tied for eighth in the FBS. The Spartans have also won 23 of their last 26 games and have 40 Big Ten victories since 2008, the most of any conference team.

■ With four forced turnovers last week at Maryland, Michigan State has 28 this season (15 fumbles, 13 interceptions), tied for second-most in the nation. With 10 turnovers themselves, fewest in the Big Ten, the Spartans lead the country in turnover margin at plus-18. Michigan State has scored 89 points off turnovers, ranks 12th in the FBS.

■ Rutgers never has defeated a top-10 team on the road and has two victories over top-10 teams ever. Rutgers also is attempting to record its first victory over a ranked opponent since a 31-0 victory over No. 23 South Florida in 2009. The last road win over a ranked team for Rutgers was a 54-34 victory against No. 17 Pittsburgh in 2008.

■ Rutgers is one of four Big Ten teams to be bowl eligible in nine of the previous 10 seasons, joining Nebraska, Ohio State and Wisconsin. Rutgers is also one of 21 teams in the power five conference to reach a bowl in at least eight of the last nine seasons. Michigan State has appeared in a school-record seven consecutive bowls.