EAST LANSING, Mich. — Jeremy Langford and Tony Lippett have seen it all. Saturday, they showed we haven’t seen the last of them.
The super-resilient “L &L Men” celebrated senior day in style as No. 10-ranked Michigan State smashed Rutgers 45-3 on Saturday. They also enjoyed their 40th win in four seasons and 51st in five.
“Big game by Lippett again, playing both offense and defense,” Spartans coach Mark Dantonio said, recalling Ohio State’s two-way star Chris Gamble on the 2002 National Champions. “Big game by Langford. Big runs.”
Langford, who played cornerback and wide receiver before returning to running back, rushed for 126 yards and two touchdowns. That stretched his streak of 100-yard games against conference foes to 15, the longest in the Football Bowl Subdivision in the last 18 years.
“We persevere through everything not going our way, the path not being the way you want it to be,” Langford said. “We fought through that adversity for a younger person to look at me to be able to do the same thing, basically as a role model for younger players for Michigan State and other schools.”
Lippett, another fifth-year player who switched positions multiple times, had five catches for 72 yards and his 10th score this season. He became the eighth receiver in school history to pass the 1,000-yard mark and also played well in a surprising stint at cornerback.
“I was just trying to embrace the situation, just go out there and play tough,” Lippett said. “I forgot I was starting both ways. I didn’t know how (Coach) was going to do it. I didn’t know if he was going to put me out there or call me to go in.”
The Spartans (9-2, 6-1 Big Ten), No. 11 in the latest College Football Playoff rankings, scored on five on their first six possessions and finished with a 520-234 edge in total offense, including 254 through the air from Connor Cook.
Quarterback Gary Nova threw for just 108 yards on 11-for-26 accuracy for the Scarlet Knights (6-5, 2-5), looking nothing like the player who had 404 passing yards in a win over Michigan.
“Yeah, they’re good,” Nova said. “But every team is vulnerable. They had some vulnerable areas. I missed a lot of throws and didn’t take advantage of it. We made them look a lot better than they were.”
Both teams had a first-quarter takeaway. After Quentin Gause gave the Scarlet Knights the ball at their 21 following a Cook fumble, Kurtis Drummond got it back for Michigan State by picking off Nova, his 12th career interception. And the Spartans drove 65 yards for the game’s first score, a 30-yard catch-and-run by Lippett on a fourth-and-5 gamble.
The Spartans made it 14-0 on their third possession, taking advantage of a 10-yard punt to the Rutgers 33. Langford finished the job with an 18-yard burst up the middle, his 16th TD of the season.
After Kyle Federico was short and right on a 46-yard field goal try for the Scarlet Knights, Michigan State went 70 yards to make it 21-0. Langford found the end zone again with a sweet bounce-out move and a 38-yard sprint down the right sideline.
“This game meant a lot to me,” Langford said. “Especially with the way my career started, I wanted to finish strong.”
The Spartans went up by four scores on their next opportunity. A playground pass from a scrambling Cook to Macgarrett Kings picked up 44 yards, and Nick Hill vaulted over the goal line on his second chance from a half-yard out.
“The legacy that we want to leave behind is that this is a class of hard workers that retied the most all-time wins as a senior class,” the 5-foot-6 Hill said after proving people wrong again.
Michigan State wasn’t done. After Riley Bullough’s diving interception at the Rutgers 48, the Spartans methodically marched toward the end zone, arriving on a 7-yard toss from Cook to R.J. Shelton for a 35-0 halftime advantage. The Spartans cruised from there.
“We’re disappointed in the outcome,” Scarlet Knights coach Kyle Flood said. “I’m proud of the effort that the players came out with in the second half. We really couldn’t find a rhythm offensively in the first half. They certainly got into a rhythm on offense and were able to get up on us.”