Staff Predictions: No. 14 Penn State vs. Rutgers
No. 14 Penn State football will take on Rutgers in the not-so friendly confines of Piscataway, New Jersey on Saturday afternoon.
The Nittany Lions have traditionally beaten up on their little brothers to the East and are riding the momentum from a 22-10 victory over Wisconsin last weekend, so our staff is confident that they’ll come away victorious again.
Will Pegler (4-3): Penn State 42, Rutgers 3
Rutgers is really bad at football. The Scarlet Knights have a 1-9 overall record on the year and lost 55-14 to Kansas, a team that’s widely considered to be one of the worst in the FBS. I expect Miles Sanders to have a big day on the ground while Trace McSorley shouldn’t have much trouble through the air. There should never be much doubt about anything during this game, so hopefully Heisman
candidate front-runner Sean Clifford will get some playing time. Saturday should be a big confidence boost for everyone on the team.
Elissa Hill (8-2): Penn State 36 Rutgers 13
In true Penn State fashion, this game will feel closer than it needs to for much longer than it needs to. After a slow start, I expect Trace McSorley to put together a few key drives down the stretch of the second half to put the game away. Nothing screams Penn State football quite like a weird first half scare against an awful opponent. Unfortunately for Penn State fans, the run of holding Rutgers without a touchdown will likely come to a close this weekend, given how suspect the Nittany Lion defense has been this season.
Andy Mollenauer (1-2): Penn State 41, Rutgers 7
This should be what one would call a “tune-up game,” as the Nittany Lions will be facing a team that has no home-field advantage. Much of the depth on Penn State’s roster should see action, as a Trace McSorley-led offense will likely take a commanding lead early, hopefully giving Tommy Stevens and Sean Clifford generous numbers of snaps under center to gain experience and confidence for the future.
Matthew Fox (8-2): Penn State 54, Rutgers 6
The game will start off with a half-full stadium chanting “Fuck Penn State” or something stupid like that, and most of those fans will leave by halftime. Rutgers won’t score a touchdown against James Franklin’s program for the fourth year in a row, and the Nittany Lions will waltz to victory. Personally, I’m most looking forward to Penn State’s fans taking over Rutgers’ student section again.
Michael Kresovich (5-0): Penn State 31, Rutgers 6
Penn State has outscored Rutgers by nearly 100 points (115-19) since the New Jersey-based school joined the Big Ten in 2014. The Nittany Lions have won 11 in a row against the Scarlet Knights, and that number will grow to 12 on Saturday. Rutgers has lost nine consecutive games after winning its season opener. Penn State will dominate this game from the start and not look back. The offense should dominate, no matter who’s under center. Miles Sanders should have a field day against Rutgers and lead the Nittany Lions to a win.
Brian Bachman (5-3): Penn State 38, Rutgers 10
Penn State should have no issues with an atrocious Rutgers team. Miles Sanders will have another dominant game, and hopefully we get a little more out of the passing game against such a weak defense. Expect Sean Spencer’s Wild Dogs to absolutely terrorize the Scarlet Knights up front. Extended work for Tommy Stevens — which is likely on Saturday — would go a long way in his development.
Derek Bannister (7-3): Penn State 49, Rutgers 9
I think Penn State’s team from 2017 would’ve had a solid chance to put up 70 on the 2018 Scarlet Knights. Rutgers’ defense is not great, ranking right near the bottom in points allowed per game. The offense is so incredibly bad, too, so Penn State will likely just keep getting the ball back. Freshman quarterback Artur Sitkowski has thrown for just four touchdown versus 16(!!) interceptions. Even on the road, the Nittany Lions should have this one in the bag by halftime.
Matt DiSanto (5-2): Penn State 42, Rutgers 9
There’s not a whole lot of analysis that can go into a matchup against an opponent with a 1-9 record that hasn’t scored a touchdown against the Nittany Lions since 2014. I expect Penn State to easily handle Rutgers and strengthen its case for a New Year’s Six bowl, although I wouldn’t put it past Rutgers to put a few points on the board. Penn State should be in control of this game from the start, which will hopefully give Trace McSorley a much-needed break from game action.
Ethan Kasales (7-3): Penn State 45, Rutgers 13
Saturday’s homecoming for freshman receiver Justin Shorter could also serve as his breakout performance on the collegiate level. The Monmouth Junction native has only played against Kent State and Wisconsin, so he has two games of wiggle room if he still wants to redshirt.
Shorter was the nation’s best receiver prospect from the 2018 recruiting class. Standing at 6’4″ with a 4.4 40-yard dash, he has all the tools to be a transcendent talent in the Big Ten. Expect Trace McSorley to target Shorter often against the Scarlet Knights, especially if the score gets out of hand in the second half.
Anthony Fiset (5-3): Penn State 42, Rutgers 10
There’s a missing persons report out in New Brunswick for both Rutgers’ fans and defense. The Scarlet Knights have allowed an average of 34.3 points this season — yikes. The good news is that this one should be over after the Nittany Lions’ first drive, so Trace McSorley’s knee can get plenty of rest. Hopefully, we get a lot of Tommy Stevens and finally see the return of Sean Clifford. The bottom line is Penn State’s a little over one touchdown better than average when it comes to beating up on Rutgers.
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About the Author
Barkley discussed a number of topics — including his cameo at this year’s Met Gala and progress towards earning his Penn State degree — following his youth football camp in Happy Valley.
Stevens will reunite with Joe Moorhead, Penn State’s offensive coordinator during the two best statistical seasons of the quarterback’s career.
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