Location: Piscataway, NJ
Rutgers Football Facts:
Home Stadium: SHI Stadium (52,454)
Head Coach: Nunzio Campanile (interim: 1-6)
Conference: Big Ten
Conference Titles: 1 (Big East)
Overall Bowl Record: 6-4
This will be match-up No.30 in the history between these two programs. The Nittany Lions hold the series lead through the first 29 meetings, going 27-2 and are winners of 12-straight. The last time that Rutgers beat the Nittany Lions? 1988. One piece of history we could possibly see this weekend is Penn State’s largest victory over the Scarlet Knights, with the previous biggest being 39-points.
Last Season (1-11, 0-8)
The only win that Rutgers found last season was their season opener against Texas State. Following that victory, the Scarlet Knights lost each of their last 11 straight games. The Scarlet Knights did have a rather tough schedule though playing Ohio State, Wisconsin, Michigan, Penn State, and Michigan State last season.
Recruiting and Offseason:
The Scarlet Knights finished the 2019 recruiting cycle with the country’s 65th ranked class nationally and 14th in the Big Ten. Their top recruit of the class was running back Aaron Young, a Coatesville, Pennsylvania native. The Scarlet Knights also brought in six transfers in the offseason including two transfer quarterbacks in McLane Carter and John Langan. Since then Carter has retired from football due to health concerns.
What they did last week: 27-0 loss to Michigan State
Penn State fans know how bad Michigan State is this season but even the Spartans couldn’t possibly lose to the Scarlet Knights. Rutgers like usual stood little to no chance to grab the victory and were held to just 140 total yards on offense
Yikes. That’s one of the first words that will probably come to your mind if you look at Rutgers offensive numbers. For starters, the Scarlet Knights have the second worst scoring offense in the entire country, only averaging 13.9 points this season. The only offense worse than the Scarlet Knights belongs to Akron who is averaging 11.2 points per game. Yardage wise, they’re only averaging 263.3 total yards per game which may be better than some would’ve guessed but still certainly not a pretty number.
There’s not a ton to know about the Rutgers offense but here are a few key points we can think. The first point we should make is that Rutgers is on their third quarterback of the season. After Artur Sitkowski was benched for poor play, the Scarlet Knights turned to McLane Carter who didn’t fare much better before having to retire. Now, Rutgers is using Boston College transfer Johnny Langan. Langan has completed 50.4% of his passes this season for 676-yards, four touchdowns, and nine interceptions. The Penn State secondary should have ZERO issues with stopping the Rutgers passing game on Saturday. They will haave to keep an eye on receiver Bo Melton who has 27 receptions this season for 375-yards and two touchdowns.
Running backs Rasheed Blacksheer and Isaih Pacheco may be the only true bright spots of their offense. Blackshear is one of the Rutgers top players overall with 398-yards from scrimmage this season. Pacheco, on the other hand, has rushed for 639-yards and seven touchdowns this season over 153 carries. He also has 71 receiving yards for a total of 710-yards from scrimmage.
But overall, Rutgers offense is bad pretty much all around outside of Blacksheer, Pacheco, and Melton.
Defensviely, the Scarlet Knights are allowing 37.5 points and nearly 450-yards per game this season. Opposing offenses are tearing Rutgers apart through the air, passing for nearly 250-yards per game but are also doing quite well on the ground, averaging nearly 200-yards.
Notable players to know of on Rutgers defense include linebackers Tyshon Fogg and Olakunle Fatukasi to go along with defensive back Christian Izien. Fogg has 83 tackles heading into the final week of the season with two tackles for a loss. Fatakasi, has similar numbers with 79 tackles, 4.5 tackles for a loss, and half-a-sack. He also has one forced fumble this season.
Izien, on the other hand should be a player to watch on Saturday and going forward. The freshman defensive back has put together a strong season with 66 tackles including one tackle for a loss as well as three pass deflections.
Rutgers has a few other players around the field that could make plays here or there but none as consistent as the trio above. Either way, Penn State’s offense really shouldn’t have problems moving the ball on Saturday.
Pennsylvania native Aaron Young is the Scarlet Knights primary kick returner with 26 kick returns this season for 550-yards, a solid 21.2 yards per return. When it comes to punt returns, they’ve returned just 12 punts this season for 34-yards. So not much to see there to say the least.
The one place they have been strong at this season consistently has been kicking and punting. Kicker Justin Davidovicz has been solid, making all 18 extra points and making 9-of-12 field goal attempts, including a long of 50-yards. At punter, Adam Korsak is averaging 43.7 yards over 71 punts this season.