Welcome back to the BSD Prediction Roundtable, where we take wildly inaccurate guesses at the scores of Penn State games in the hope of sounding smart. This week, the Nittany Lions take on what is left of Rutgers' depleted roster. Banter aside, the Scarlet Knights gave Penn State absolute fits last year in the Garden State, and a bunker down mentality in the wake of the loss of several key starters and their head coach could frustrate the Lions in Happy Valley.
Noel: This week, I'm skipping the NCAA Football 14 breakdown (it predicted 57-10), to instead talk about how much I hate Rutgers. I hate Rutgers a lot. I don't like anything about BTPR. Their colors, their stupid school name and nickname (topped only by Purdue), their campus. All of it. It's all bad. I hate Kyle Flood more than almost any active coach in major college football not named Randy Edsall, but he's currently in detention so that's sort of irrelevant. I hope we beat them so badly that Jim Delany tries to trade them to the AAC for Cincinnati or Temple. However, be nice to their fans when they come to town today and tomorrow. Buy them a trash can at the Phyrst or a craft beer at Liberty. It's just sports, and sports are stupid. Even though they chose to support Rutgers sports for some godforsaken reason, be better than how they treated us in Jersey last fall. I don't think I've ever taken the high road in my life before, but I guess that's what graduating does to you. Thank you for listening.
Eli: If you asked me a week ago, I would have said there's no way we beat Big Ten Powerhouse Rutgers in our current state. They displayed an offense potent enough to take care of business at home against their FCS opponent, while we went out and laid an egg on the road at Temple. Fast forward a week, and now it looks like Big Ten Powerhouse Rutgers might not even have enough guys to field a team by the time this game rolls around.
Penn State 56 - BTPR 17
Bscaff: Once again, this game should be an absolute blast. It's a night game. That is good. And we're doing stripe-y thing. Okay. And it's with BTPR, a team with (at least a few) crazy fans who hate Penn State. THAT makes it awesome. I haven't felt quite like this since the early 1990s, when I could point and laugh at Syracuse, WVU, and Pitt. Mid-westerners are too freaking polite to hate properly. They're either self-effacing (Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Nebraska), self-loathing (Purdue, Indiana, Illinois, Sparty), comically disinterested (Northwestern), or captivated by contrived memories of a "Big2-Little8" circa 1973 (Ohio State, Michigan), when Detroit and Cleveland weren't the go-to cities for all drug/crime/poverty/corruption/despair jokes.
But State University of New Jersey-Piscataway is none of those things. These f'ing guys know how to hate properly. They're born to hate. Ever since they learned their Baby Einstein shapes and colors, they've grown accustomed to the rest of the United States mocking them for myriad things, running the gamut of swampland, pineys, Julie Hermann, gas pumping, fist pumping, toll roads, Snookie, big hair, Donald "I have a great relationship with the blacks" Trump's Atlantic City, spray tans, strange accents, being ranked well below Fordham on the list of "NYC's college teams", high taxes, Chris Christie, Julie Hermann, using a highway Exit as a cultural dividing line, Trenton, Bon Jovi, Steve Forbes, Queen Latifah, the "berserker" guy from Clerks, Julie Hermann, Tara Reid, Grover Cleveland, the "James Fenimore Cooper Service Plaza", Julie Hermann, Camden, Doug Graber, and, of course, the fact that 99.99% of their best high school football players choose to play college football somewhere - anywhere - other than at State University of New Jersey-Piscataway. More often than not, that somewhere else has been Penn State, which fuels their hatred. Thus, current students and alums of SUNJ-P, who effectively doubled-down on their shame by enrolling, silently screaming "**** your taunts, I'll attend SUNJ-P then spray-tan my face orange as part of my ritualistic self-flagellation", these special few spit venom in a fashion that's simply incomprehensible to your average whole milk guzzling, cheesy baked casserole and apple pie eating mid-westerner.
And I absolutely dig that about them. I love having Rutgers in the conference, especially because Jim Delany's "population" decision ignored all cable subscription and innerwebs media trends. The more absurdity, the better. So, once again, welcome aboard, you gloriously trashy Rutgers bastards, driving your 4mpg GMC Yukons to yet another laser hair removal appointment, on a 5-mile, 45-minute idle through outrageous traffic. You're that former grade school classmate from 2nd grade who once crapped his pants playing kickball during recess; no one - NO ONE - wants to be around you. But now that you found this conference by sheer stupid luck, twenty years after the foul smelling brown spot seeped through the seat of your Jordache jeans as you contentedly ate non-toxic white paste, inexplicably...I couldn't be more pleased you've joined the conference. I mean that sincerely. Saturday night should be a(nother) blast. //(pumps fist with delight)
Penn State 16 - BTPR 13
Dan: The first half of the SUNY Buffalo game might have been a blessing because it forced James Franklin to put Saquon Barkley in the game. If he doesn't get opportunities this week against Big Ten Powerhouse Rutgers it's a huge mistake on Franklin's part. Yes, Akeel Lynch was the best option last season when Bill Belton and Zach Zwinak struggled. But there is young talent on this team that could very well outplay Lynch, and Barkley flashed that potential last week.
Anyway, it's the Big Ten home opener and it's against Rutgers. I traveled up to Rutgers for the Penn State game last year. It was my third time seeing Penn State on the road against a Big Ten opponent and was easily the worst experience from a fan treatment perspective. Every fanbase has jerks, but Rutgers seems to have them in a higher percentage. Not that it matters. Penn State will win this game because Rutgers is down their best player, as well as quite a bit of depth, and needs its athletic director to make personal appeals to defend the head coach still having his job.
Penn State 30 - BTPR 10
Matt: Saturday night is not a rivalry game. Let's just get that out of the way up front. However, it's an important one for this Penn State football team. There will be a large crowd, there will be a number of top end recruits in attendance, and the much maligned offense will have a chance to make a statement. The first and last quarter of this young season have been very good. The six in the middle have been, well, terrible. The question is was the end of the Buffalo game a sign of things to become, or a frustrating indication of what should be.
It's no secret Rutgers is reeling from off field issues, which not only have been a distraction, but have taken several key players out of the equation. With apologies to Ohio Stadium's noon game atmosphere of a year ago, the Scarlet Knights have seen nothing like what they're walking into Saturday night, under the lights, in Happy Valley. It may be close for awhile, but won't be for too long. PSU's suffocating defense, (hopefully) improving offense, and 100,000+ striped out fans eventually overwhelm the State University of New Jersey.
Penn State 27 - BTPR 13
Chad: If Penn State can't move the ball through the air on this team I don't know who they'll be able to throw on (ok probably Army).
Penn State 28 - BTPR 17
Nick: Rutgers is a joke right now. They're missing their head coach and their best offensive player. Without those two, they honestly might not score (especially with a healthy Brandon Bell back in the lineup). However, the Scarlet Knights still have a very solid stable of running backs, so their offense isn't the barren wasteland that some are assuming after seeing Carroo's suspension. On the other side, it's not as if Penn State lit up the scoreboard last week. The second half brought a significantly better performance, however, in both production and play-calling. I'm more confident that we'll see some of that continue, than that we'll see Rutgers stand up and play with a "everyone against us" mentality.
In the end, I expect a solid game from Hackenberg. Washington State and Luke Falk were able to tear apart the Rutgers secondary, so there's no reason that an offense with more talent nearly everywhere shouldn't be able to do the same. The weather will be far better this week in State College, which should eliminate many of the drops from last week (Mike Gesicki is still a stud, it was raining, shut up). I expect a big game from Chris Godwin, as he continues to establish himself as Penn State's number one receiver, and I also expect Franklin to get Juwan Johnson and Saeed Blacknall involved, because New Jersey. Give me six sacks between Zettel, Johnson and Nassib, and one interception for Trevor Williams. This game might stay close during the first half, but I think the Lions pull away in the third and fourth quarters. The only real question will be after this one, will be how did so many people wear the wrong color shirt for the Stripe Out?
Penn State 28 - BTPR 10
Tim: I still have my reservations about this offense (although that fourth quarter against Buffalo was kind of fun to watch) but if the O-line can put together a performance similar to last week, then I would fully expect Akeel/Saquon/whoever else carries the rock to get their share of yards while Hack actually takes advantage of a reeling BTPR secondary.
Meanwhile, the defense in conjunction with the nighttime atmosphere at Beaver Stadium will make BTPR QB Chris Laviano's first road start a living nightmare, particularly without Leonte Carroo available. BTPR will have to rely on its stable of running backs and Jannarion Grant being able to take a kick/punt return to the house in order to generate some scoring. Not exactly something I'd want to bet the farm on.
I imagine the BTPR players will carry that underdog mentality of wanting to prove doubters wrong in light of all the recent turmoil and will rally around each other but like Mike Tyson once said: "Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face."
Penn State 24 - BTPR 13
Devon: Penn State should run away with this. Rutgers is without its best offensive player, its best defensive player, its head coach, and the dozen or so kids that said head coach kicked off the team a week ago...AND it's coming off a brutal, back-breaking home loss to a team that, itself, had just lost at home to an FCS team. Rutgers is a program in free-fall, a slow-motion implosion, and it couldn't have happened to a better fanbase. Anyway, all that said, this is probably going to be a much closer game than it ought to be, because John Donovan still doesn't know his callsheet from a phonebook. Rutgers, unlike Buffalo, has the athletes to get to the edge defending the jet sweep...but I bet you we still run it two or three times after it's become abundantly clear that it stops working. Luke Falk carved up the Rutgers secondary, but Hackenberg won't be given the same opportunities. Save us, Saquon Barkley. And please, god, don't let Danny Pasquariello kick it to Janarion Grant.
Penn State 24 - BTPR 17
Cari: Penn State 21 - BTPR 14
Bill: Penn State 17 - BTPR 13
Adam: Penn State 20 - BTPR 17
FROM THE PREVIEW:
Jared: Penn State 17 - BTPR 14