There’s so much doom and gloom from all corners at the moment. The reality remains this team is maybe a half dozen plays from being undefeated. As we grind down towards the end of the season, some of the execution has been lacking: dropped passes, missed blocks, slips in coverage. Things that when you have smaller margins for error, add up to losses where victories were earlier in the season. This weekend should have a larger margin and a positive ending to Senior Day.
Penn State 34, Rutgers 13
Could Rutgers beat Penn State? Sure. If Illinois showed us anything, it’s that PSU can’t expect to just sleepwalk their way to a victory against an opponent they should handily beat on paper. No doubt Greg Schiano and the RU players would love to earn their 6th win and bowl eligibility by getting a dub against a team they haven’t beaten since before half of our BSD staff was even born.
That being said, Rutgers does not have much of a run game, nor do they have a QB to write home about. Defensively, they have been good enough, but Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo won’t be lining up at defensive end (although with several starting O-linemen missing practice this week cause of the flu, perhaps that won’t matter). Additionally, it’s the final home game for one Mr. Jahan Dotson. Look for him to go off for 100-plus yards receiving and a pair of TD’s which should be enough to win what will likely be an ugly, uncomfortable, clunker of a game.
Penn State 17, Rutgers 13
This game will mean a lot to Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights, who play Maryland next week, are a win away from bowl eligibility and Penn State is a name they are always up for. Additionally, Penn State is never up for Rutgers. That said, Rutgers going 7-5 with a win over Penn State would be a great season for Greg Schiano and company. As for Penn State, it’s hard to envision them caring much. I mean, hell, at times against Michigan last week the offensive line was standing around doing absolutely nothing while their QB took a beating. There does not appear to be much care left for the Nittany Lions.
Penn State can not run the ball, Sean Clifford is not healthy, and the offensive line can not block anyone. Brent Pry’s defense can only do so much. I am also someone who does not have a lot of faith left in James Franklin as head coach at Penn State. This is the year Rutgers finally defeats the Nittany Lions. Sigh.
Rutgers 19, Penn State 17
Let’s compare two teams, Team A, and Team B.
Team A has nothing to play for at this point in the season, having secured bowl eligibility, and is not in the running for a conference championship. They’re coming off an emotional, late-game letdown loss against a top-10 opponent, wherein they fought back to take the lead only to lose in dramatic fashion. They’re playing at home, but with cold November weather, and a noon kick, the atmosphere will almost certainly be subdued with poor attendance. Team A views Team B as an afterthought, one that they never get up for, despite their head coach’s assertion that every game is treated the same.
Team B has everything to play for at this point in the season, needing another win to secure bowl eligibility. They’re coming off a huge, blowout win of a Big Ten opponent, which almost never happens for them. They’re on the road, but the atmosphere won’t be overly daunting thanks to the weather, kickoff time, and fan malaise. Team B views Team A as perhaps their biggest rival, despite the dismissive attitude Team A has toward Team B, and they always get up to play Team A regardless of where the two teams stand in the season.
Tell me that doesn’t sound like Team B is the horse you’d bet on. Go on, tell me. Let’s add in that apparently some sort of flu has swept its way through Team A’s OL and LB units, and I am having an exceedingly difficult time picking Team A.
So I won’t.
Rutgers 24, Penn State 14
It’s Senior Day in what’s been a disappointing season at Beaver Stadium. Rutgers is way better than people may have expected to this point, while Penn State has seemingly squandered its talent at the skill positions and suffered momentum-killing injuries to leaders like Sean Clifford and P.J. Mustipher. Rutgers is also coming off of a dominant performance against Indiana, and eager to shed the label of “brother that is so little we don’t even acknowledge him except to make fun.” Is this year the year where Rutgers knocks off Penn State?
Penn State 21, Rutgers 17
Look, Rutgers could win this game! They are in a positive trajectory right now, under Greg Schiano’s second stint with the program. They are one win away from bowl eligibility, and what better way to get it than to beat the team they view as a rival?
That’s all well and good, but I’mma tell you right here right now: All the doom and gloom scenarios everyone’s putting out there are just misery porn. Penn State Pessimism™ has taken over now that any chance at a 10-win season and a New Year’s Six bid is out the window, and why wouldn’t we just dig deeper at that point? Well, you can **** right off with that nonsense.
Penn State 56, Rutgers 17
There was a time not long ago when any reasonable person could chalk this up as an automatic victory with the starters on the sidelines for most of the second half. That has changed dramatically as of late, and there are now several reasons to be concerned about Rutgers leaving Beaver Stadium with a victory:
-The Scarlet Knights will be playing for bowl eligibility, a major milestone for a program that was at the rock bottom on the P5 programs not long ago (and before you bring up Kansas, please note they lost to the Jayhawks 54-14 in 2018).
-They can finish with a winning record in the regular season with victories against Penn State and Maryland.
-Football coaches aren’t lying when they say they take it week-to-week and all games are equally important. However, Schiano will really want this one, and that will trickle down to the players who seem to respect and buy into their head coach.
-Rutgers comes in with much more momentum, winning two of three and trouncing Indiana 38-3 on Saturday - by far their biggest margin of victory against a conference opponent since joining the Big Ten in 2014.
Rutgers certainly has the intangibles in their favor. However, there’s one factor that heavily benefits Penn State:
-they have far more talent at every position group.
It’s simple - Penn State needs to play somewhat close to their potential and they walk away with the victory. However, it’s hard to know what to expect from a team that has been on a downward trajectory, playing a noon game in front of what will likely be a sparse (for Beaver Stadium standards) and lethargic crowd. There’s also the pattern of the offense leaving points on the field, as well as uncertainty surrounding the lineup thanks to the flu outbreak, and it seems like the perfect recipe for Rutgers to spoil Senior Day.
Rutgers 20, Penn State 16