Game Preview: Rutgers
Saturday’s matchup between No. 14 Penn State and Rutgers marks a tale of two very different teams. While Penn State is fighting to hold their season together coming off their first two consecutive losses of the year, Rutgers is fighting for a shot to become bowl eligible.
The Nittany Lions once sat at No. 2 overall with a 7-0 record heading into the Ohio State game. Since then, however, Penn State has gradually seen its College Football Playoff hopes dwindle away as they have dropped their last two games at No. 13 Ohio State and No. 12 Michigan State respectively.
On the other hand, Rutgers has had a very disappointing year since the beginning. Totaling a 4-5 record, the Scarlet Knights lost four of their first five games, with their only win coming over Morgan State by a score of 65-0. Recently, however, the Scarlet Knights have caught their stride, winning three of their last four games, with the only loss coming two weeks ago at Michigan.
The history between these two teams is rather short-lived as the Scarlet Knights just recently joined the Big Ten conference along with the University of Maryland in 2014.
If history is any indication, the Nittany Lions are an overwhelming favorite. Heading into this game, the Nittany Lions hold a ten-game winning streak over the Scarlet Knights dating all the way back to 1988. This is not even the longest winning streak between the two teams as the Nittany Lions won 15 straight games over the span of 1960 to 1987.
The Nittany Lions hold a convincing 25-2 all-time record over the Scarlet Knights, the only two losses coming in 1918 and 1988.
Last year, the Nittany Lions dismantled the Scarlet Knights at High Point Solutions Stadium by a score of 39-0. It seems that the same type of game might unfold this year as, according to Vegas Insider, the Nittany Lions enter this game as 28.5 point favorites. This year’s Scarlet Knight team, however, is much improved as they have already totaled four wins, which is two more than last year when they went 0-9 in Big Ten play and 2-10 overall.
If the Scarlet Knights want any chance at winning this game, they must limit Saquon Barkley and the offensive attack of Penn State. Barkley has been limited to only 107 yards on 35 attempts over the past two games.
Ohio State and Michigan State created the blueprint for beating Penn State: take away Barkley and force other players on the field to make plays. Thus far, the Nittany Lions have had trouble combatting this type of gameplan as they have fallen in the last two games and Barkley has had minimal success.
Spearheading the Rutgers defensive attack will be junior outside linebacker Trevor Morris. Morris has put together a very impressive season, totaling 77 tackles on the year, 2.5 of which were for negative yards.
Fifth year quarterback Kyle Bolin has taken the majority of the snaps under center this year for the Scarlet Knights. However, Giovanni Rescigno has done most of the work at the quarterback position as of late. Going 32-63 on passing for the year, the sophomore quarterback is slowly emerging as the leader of this young Scarlet Knights football team.
Rutgers will try to keep their recent success going and Penn State will try to turn things around as the two square off at 12:00 p.m. Saturday at Beaver Stadium.
Cooper Deck is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism at Penn State. To contact, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.