By TOM CANAVAN/AP Sports Writer
PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) – 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.
Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights certainly took a step forward this season, but they still were no competitive against the best teams in the Big Ten East. Against hio State, Penn State, Michigan and Michigan State, Rutgers was outscored 176-27.
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.
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