A whole lot of people are quick to discount a win in Ann Arbor last week, like of course Penn State was going to win that game as if it was just a garden variety event, even though it has only happened three times prior and not since 2009. It was a game, that even entering 0-5, the Nittany Lions were ever really in doubt to be the better team on the field. The mental gymnastics it takes to ignore all that is astounding. The key, as it has been all season, is to eliminate the turnovers. If they can repeat that task the next few weeks, Penn State will continue their streak of non-losing seasons. Rutgers is competent, but getting that monkey off this Nittany Lions squad’s back last week, relieved so much pressure.
Penn State 27, Rutgers 20
The win against Michigan caused everyone to breathe a sigh of relief, and there’s even talk of going on a 4 (or maybe even 5) game win streak to end the season. Did we not watch the same team for the first 5 weeks of this season? The offense was better, insofar as it didn’t outright hand the other team points on pick-sixes or fumble-sixes. The defense was better, but Michigan essentially can’t complete a forward pass. I’ll pump the brakes on any win streak talk.
Rutgers 31, Penn State 24
Greg Schiano has wisely not taken the bait on the talk about this game being Rutgers’ Super Bowl. Deep down though, he knows this is Rutgers’ best shot since their inaugural year in the B1G to take down PSU. I’m sure the team realizes it as well. The question is, will PSU be ready for it? It certainly helps for PSU’s confidence and morale that they finally got in the win column and did it against Michigan of all teams, but we all know how bad Michigan is at this point, and how RU would’ve beat Michigan in OT had RU’s kicker not had a #collegekickers moment. I want to believe that the fourth and one stop against Michigan was a pseudo 2004 Indiana momentum-swinger for the season, but it’s difficult for me to not shake the feeling that 2020 is going to go back to rearing its ugly head. RU should’ve beaten a sanction-riddled PSU team in 2014 and they absolutely choked it away under the lights of a sell-out home crowd. This time, the Scarlet Knights take full advantage of a unexpectedly struggling PSU team. Unfortunately for RU, they won’t get the benefit of having their fans storm the field.
Rutgers 31, Penn State 28
Rutgers is much improved, and Penn State is at its lowest point in at least several decades. With that said, I believe just enough in the Nittany Lions after their efforts in the fourth quarter against a woeful Michigan team, and I can’t actually pick Rutgers to win-even if that has every chance of happening.
Penn State 31, Rutgers 24
Penn State has finally won a game! That said, I still don’t trust this offense at all. Do not have much confidence in the defense or special teams, either. Sean Clifford didn’t turn the ball over against Michigan, but that doesn’t mean he played well. Rutgers will play hard, if PSU doesn’t match that and turns the ball over they’ll be in trouble. I can’t believe I’m picking Rutgers to beat PSU, yet, here we are..
Rutgers 38, Penn State 31
I think it says something about these programs when this game is actually, genuinely exciting. In any other season, this is just another team standing in Penn State’s way en route to a 10-2 season. This time, it’s a team searching for a turnaround against a team looking for a signature win. Maybe one day this game will mean something.
Penn State 56, Rutgers 17
Make no doubt about it - Greg Schiano is transforming Rutgers once again. The Scarlet Knights appeared as they had no business in the Big Ten, or any P5 conference during the past several years. Heck, they probably would have had a losing record in the MAC. While Rutgers still has a ways to go in closing the talent gap with the rest of the conference, they are a much more competitive team already. Unless you’re Ohio State, you can no longer sleepwalk/shoot yourself in the foot constantly and still expect to come out with a win.
Fortunately, Penn State is coming off its first game of the season when they played a full four quarters and finally limited mistakes. They also have turned to a nucleus of true freshman and other new faces who have seemed to bring a new energy that was lacking during the 0-5 start. Rutgers will be playing with some extra juice in Schiano’s first-ever meeting with the Nittany Lions, but the boys in blue and white should come out with their heads on straight and ready to build off the victory in Ann Arbor.
Clifford has another quality outing, tossing for 240 yards and touchdowns to Jahan Dotson and Parker Washington. Devyn Ford and Keyvone Lee each contribute 70 yards and a score on the ground, and Will Levis helps with a few crucial third and fourth down conversions.
On defense, Brandon Smith continues his progression with his best game to date, leading the team with nine tackles and forcing a fumble. PJ Mustipher halts the Rutgers offense with three TFLs and a sack, while Adisa Isaac contribute two sacks of his own.
Penn State 31, Rutgers 23