Staff Predictions: Penn State vs. Rutgers
Penn State football is gearing up for a prime-time, Striped-Out matchup with Rutgers at 8 p.m. on Saturday. The 1-1 Scarlet Knights, riddled with injuries and suspensions (including their head coach), are limping into the game following a loss to Washington State, while the 1-1 Nittany Lions sent Buffalo packing with a 27-14 win.
Our staff almost unanimously agrees: Rutgers is missing too many key parts to compete with Penn State, and the Nittany Lions should find themselves over .500 when the game’s over.
Doug Leeson (season record 1-1): Penn State 24, Rutgers 10
If you asked me last week, I would’ve said Rutgers would win. The Scarlet Knights started their season off by hanging 63 on Norfolk State while Penn State got almost tripled-up by Temple. Penn State’s win over Buffalo was… kinda convincing, other than the fact that it came against Buffalo. I’m still not all-in on this team, and I won’t forget that game in Philly for a long time.
Still, this game should come down to the fact that Penn State’s head coach will serve in that capacity on Saturday while Rutgers’ got #chopped. Without Leonte Carroo, Rutgers will have a lot of trouble finding the end zone. Penn State will win comfortably, and this time it won’t need five interceptions from Champagne Gary Nova to do it.
Kaitlyn Dividock (season record 1-0): Penn State 27, Rutgers 13
This really isn’t a great week for Rutgers to play a football game at all, let alone one in front of the Penn State’s proud #107kStrong. With the slew of injuries and suspensions Rutgers is facing, it’ll be tough for the team to find anything to rally around – especially with it coming off a tough loss to Washington State last weekend, not to mention that its sideline will be a little emptier without its head coach, Kyle Flood. The only few things that will help Rutgers pull off a win are the continuing problems Penn State keeps bringing on itself. If that defense manages to take advantage of the offensive line and put significant pressure on Christian Hackenberg, we’re looking at a solid chance of a Scarlet Knight victory. Hackenberg’s passing game has also been sub-par (not that it’s all his fault). With Rutgers coming into this game with Washington State’s passing attack fresh in its memory, Penn State will seem like it’s moving in slow motion. The fact that Rutgers has averaged ten penalties a game definitely won’t help its chance at success, though.
On the Penn State side of things, what the Nittany Lions can breathe easy about is the fact that even though their o-line is still a little shaky, Rutgers’ defense hasn’t caused significant mistakes to any team this year. The offensive line is also coming off a week where it didn’t let Hackenberg get sacked once – an absolute 180-degree turnaround from its performance at Temple. Penn State is also establishing a solid running game, with backs Akeel Lynch and Saquon Barkley having impressive showings in back-to-back weeks. Defensively, this team will again be solid. If Carl Nassib keeps playing the way he is, Rutgers will have a lot of trouble moving the ball at all.
Ultimately, Rutgers will try to rally and it’ll succeed at times, but it has too many personal losses to pull off a victory in Happy Valley. Penn State won’t have a pretty win in front of its Stripe Out crowd, but it’s going to be a win, and that’s all that matters.
Ethan Kasales (season record 1-0): Penn State 30, Rutgers 16
Matt Coleman (season record 1-0): Rutgers 17, Penn State 13
Jacob Abrams (season record 1-1): Penn State 30, Rutgers 19
Ben Berkman (season record 1-1): Penn State 16, Rutgers 10
On paper, Penn State should dominate Rutgers. A Saturday night Stripe Out in a rocking Beaver Stadium, a Rutgers team that will enter Happy Valley missing more than a handful of players and a head coach, and the fact that the Scarlet Knights just lost to a Washington State team that fell to Portland State a week prior all suggest the Nittany Lions should roll.
But things rarely go as expected in Penn State sports. I anticipate an ugly, defensive, B1G battle that could feature more punts than points. Still, there’s really no way Penn State can lose this game. Rutgers, depleted and on the road, can hang tough, but they won’t leave State College with a W.
David Abruzzese (season record 1-1): Penn State 17, Rutgers 7
Facing its first Big Ten opponent of the season, Penn State’s matchup with Rutgers couldn’t come at a better time. The program is in a state of disarray, headlined by the indefinite suspension of leading receiver and NFL prospect Leonte Carroo, and three-game suspension of head coach Kyle Flood. The team is missing upwards of eight key players — including Darius Hamilton, undoubtedly the team’s most talented defensive lineman.
Expect to see sensational freshman Saquon Barkley receive an increased workload as he faces the school he originally committed to — especially after his breakout performance last weekend against Buffalo. Expect Christian Hackenberg to flip the switch against the depleted Rutgers secondary, protected by a line that seemingly gelled after a stunning sack-less afternoon against the Bulls.
If anything, Penn State can’t afford to fall to such a weak Rutgers team.
Patrick Koerbler (season record 0-0): Penn State 16, Rutgers 13
While Rutgers is in a state of flux, it’s still difficult to predict a win for this Penn State team. The Nittany Lions have major injury problems (granted Brandon Bell and Grant Haley should play), and concerns about the offensive play calling weren’t necessarily alleviated last week against Buffalo.
In my opinion, the key to the game is simple: Will John Donovan be aggressive or let Rutgers control the game? Temple’s defense has set up a blueprint. Stack the box, play press coverage, and bring linebackers on delayed blitzes to confuse the offensive line. They’ll put their corners one-on-one with little help underneath or over the top.
While it’s tough to be aggressive with a struggling offensive line that will possibly be without Andrew Nelson, Donovan will need to put his faith in Hackenberg, attack the middle of the field, and take some shots deep. The best way to beat an attacking defense is to attack it right back.
This game really could go either way. But in the end, I think Penn State pulls out a victory, albeit an ugly one.
Ben Rappaport (season record 1-1): Penn State 24, Rutgers 3
Penn State is entirely too good and too motivated to lose to Rutgers. Hackenberg thrives in home night games, and the offense is finally starting to click. With Franklin taking a more active role in the offensive play calling, Hackenberg and the rest of the offense has looked much cleaner and explosive.
More importantly, the defense is going to be the star of the show. With Leonte Carroo, Rutgers’ star wide out, having issues off the field, the Nittany Lion defense will have no trouble stopping the Scarlet Knight’s offense. Look for stand-out performances from breakout defensive players Carl Nassib and John Reid. Both are coming off strong showings against Buffalo and seem to be catching their strides within the Nittany Lion defense. Penn State is walking into this game with confidence. The players have been reading about all the shit talk that Rutgers fans have been spouting, and are looking forward to shutting everyone up. An angry and fired up Penn State team will roll past a depleted Rutgers team easily. It’s going to be a fun night for sure — at least for everyone wearing blue and white.
Cade Reed (season record: 1-0): Penn State 45, Rutgers 6
I’m ready for a blowout. I’ve been waiting for two weeks to see Penn State lay the hammer down on an inferior opponent and this should be it. Rutgers comes to Happy Valley this weekend in the midst of a perfect storm of suspensions and rumors. Over the past few weeks Rutgers has lost Head Coach Kyle Flood, star player Leonte Carroo, and numerous starters to a slew of violations and infractions, and as a Penn State fan I could not be happier. For anyone who says that they would like to beat a fully armed “team from New Jersey,” ask yourself how happy any Rutgers fan would have been to beat Penn State in any of the sanction years.
Penn State’s defense held strong last week and hopes to continue its success during the Stripe Out at Beaver Stadium. The offensive line showed good progression against Buffalo and should be able to duplicate a no sack performance against the depleted Rutgers defense.
The team will be motivated, the crowd will be great, and Rutgers will be Rutgers as the Nittany Lions humiliate the Scarlet Knights on national television. Book it.
What’s your prediction? Let us know in the comments below.