Michigan State’s explosive offense keeps Spartans undefeated

Published 10:41 am Sunday, October 10, 2021

PISCATAWAY, N.J. — The Michigan State football team improved to 6-0 on the season with a 31-13 victory over Rutgers at SHI Stadium Saturday afternoon.

Michigan State (6-0, 3-0 Big Ten) used explosive plays all game to put away the Scarlet Knights, scoring touchdowns of 94, 65, 63 and 63 yards.

Redshirt junior wide receiver Jalen Nailor tied a school record with three touchdown receptions and had five catches overall for 221 yards, the fourth-highest receiving total in school history. He caught TD passes of 63, 63 and 65 yards, all in the first half.

Junior running back Kenneth Walker III had another 200-yard rushing performance, this time collecting 233 rushing yards on 29 carries, including a school-record 94-yard rushing touchdown in the third quarter (previous: 90 yards by Lynn Chandnois in 1949 vs. Arizona). The 94-yard rushing TD by Walker was also the longest offensive play from scrimmage in school history (previous: 93-yard pass play from Tony Banks to Nigea Carter vs. Indiana in 1994). It marked Walker’s fourth 100-yard rushing effort this season, and the second time he has gone over 200 yards (career-high 264 vs. Northwestern on Sept. 3).

Red-shirt sophomore Payton Thorne was 16-of-27 passing for a career-high 339 yards and three touchdowns, all to Nailor.

It marked the first time in school history that the Spartans produced a 300-yard passer (Thorne with 339 yards), 200-yard rusher (Walker with 233 yards) and 200-yard receiver (Nailor with 221 yards) in the same game.

Overall, the Spartans collected 588 yards of total offense (339 passing, 249 rushing).

On special teams, Matt Coghlin became the school’s all-time leader in field goals with his 72nd career field goal in the fourth quarter from 35 yards out.

Defensively, the Spartans shut out the Scarlet Knights (3-3, 0-3 Big Ten) in the second half. Sophomore Darius Snow led the team with a career-high nine tackles.

It marks the ninth time in school history Michigan State has started 6-0 (1913, 1951, 1952, 1965, 1966, 1999, 2010, 2015, 2021). The Spartans are also 3-0 in Big Ten action for the first time since 2017.