EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Payton Thorne threw for 256 yards and two touchdowns and Ben Patton hit two fourth-quarter field goals to lift Michigan State to a 27-21 victory Saturday over Rutgers and keep the Spartans' bowl hopes alive.
The Spartans built a 21-7 lead early in the third quarter on Thorne's 25-yard touchdown pass to Jayden Reed.
The Scarlet Knights (4-6, 1-6) pulled within 21-14 when tight end Johnny Langan plowed up the middle on a one-yard touchdown run late in the quarter. It was the first time in the last three games that Rutgers had scored any points in the second half.
Rutgers had a chance to cut the margin in the final quarter but Jacob Slade blocked Jude McAtamney's 39-yard field goal attempt and cornerback Ameer Speed picked up the ball and returned it to the Michigan State 44. Seven plays later, Ben Patton made a 34-yard field goal to give the Spartans a 10-point lead with 6:28 to play. He later added a 48-yard kick.
Gavin Wimsatt was able to bring Rutgers within six points with a 31-yard touchdown pass to Shameen Jones on a fourth and 29 play with 47 seconds left. The Scarlet Knights attempted an onside kick, but it was fielded by the Spartans who ran out the clock.
Despite totaling 283 yards of offense and allowing Rutgers to cross midfield only twice in the first half, Michigan State could not pull away from the Scarlet Knights.
The Spartans opened the scoring in the first quarter when Thorne hit Daniel Barker on a 26-yard touchdown pass. The Scarlet Knights evened it late in the second quarter as Wimsatt capped a 96-yard drive with an 18-yard touchdown throw to Aaron Young.
Jalen Berger put Michigan State back on top 14-7 on the following possession with a two-yard run up the middle. The play was set up following a pass interference penalty in the end zone on Avery Young, giving the Spartans the ball at the Rutgers' 2.
Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights must win their final two games to be considered for a bowl berth.
Michigan State: With a win in one of their final two games, the Spartans will be bowl eligible for the second consecutive season.
Rutgers: Hosts Penn State on Nov. 19 and visits Maryland on Nov. 26 in the regular season finale.
Michigan State: Hosts Indiana on Nov. 19 and closes the regular season at Penn State on Nov. 26.