Matchup: No. 14 Penn State (7-3) vs. Rutgers (1-9)
Where: HighPoint.com Stadium, Piscataway, NJ
When: Saturday November 17th, 2018 at 12:00pm EST
Penn State Offense vs. Rutgers Defense
By: Brandon Musso
Last week was the bounce back win that Penn State needed as they closed out Wisconsin to improve to 7-3 on the season. This seemed to be a pivotal game for the Nittany Lions as they were coming off a blowout loss to Michigan the previous week and needed a win to avoid dropping to four losses. Wisconsin was once the favorite to win the B1G West, but injuries has dropped them out of a shot at a B1G Championship. Nonetheless, their defense was still a tough matchup for the Penn State offense. In the 22-10 win, the offense put up 20 points but Trace McSorley failed to find much rhythm in the passing game. He threw for just 160 yards and a touchdown. The rushing attack was working just as the Nittany Lions would want it to. Miles Sanders rushed for 159 yards and touchdown, a good chunk of the Nittany Lions team total of 183 rushing yards.
Luckily for Penn State, their defensive opponent this week will not be as tough as Wisconsin. The Nittany Lions will head east to take on Rutgers in Piscataway, New Jersey. The Scarlet Knights are currently sitting at 1-9 having had serious struggles this year with their lone win having occurred all the way back in week one against Texas State. They have had a lot of trouble containing offenses as they are ranked 84th in the country in total defense having averaged just over 418 total yards allowed per game. However, splitting down a little further reveals that they are much stronger at defending the pass than the run. They come in at 25th in the country in passing yards allowed but 119th in the country in rushing yards allowed. They average just under 190 passing yards allowed per game but 230 rushing yards allowed per game. If there is a weakness for the Nittany Lions to exploit this is it.
Individually, the Rutgers’ defense has just a few players of note. The first is linebacker Trevor Morris. The senior serves as the stop gate for the defense as he is the team’s leading tackler with 87 total tackles. Elorm Lumor is another player to watch. Lumor is a sophomore defensive lineman that is leading the team in tackles-for-loss with six as well as in a tie for the team lead in sacks with three. In the secondary, keep your eye out for Saqaun Hampton. The senior defensive back Hampton has nabbed two interceptions on the season while keeping pace in tackles with the secondary’s leader, freshman defensive back Avery Young.
Penn State Defense vs. Rutgers Offense
By: Kraigen Rasalla
Following a dominant defensive effort against Wisconsin, the Nittany Lions take on Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights have struggled all season, only winning one game, a blowout against Texas State in week one. Let’s see how the Nittany Lions stack up against the Rutgers offense.
The Rutgers passing attack is one of the worst in the country. Artur Sitkowski has a completion percentage below 50 percent and a touchdown to interception ratio of four to 16. Safe to say the freshman is not too efficient. The Penn State secondary and pass rush should have a field day, continuing their impressive play from last week.
On the ground, Rutgers has a variety of running backs that they like to utilize. Raheem Blackshear is the best of the bunch as he averages over four yards per carry and leads the team in rushing attempts. Blackshear also leads the team in receptions (40) and receiving yards (332). If Rutgers has any shot of beating the Nittany Lions, they will need an outstanding performance from their star tailback. Also contributing for the Knights out of the backfield are emerging freshman Isaih Pacheco (5.5 yards per carry) and Jon Hilliman (6 TD). Pacheco also had an 80 yard touchdown run last week against Michigan to tie the game in the first half.
With only two touchdowns among the wide receivers, this group is not much of a threat. Bo Melton and Eddie Lewis are the only receivers with over 20 catches, but neither has a touchdown catch on the season.
Brandon Musso: (9-1)
Penn State has had its fair of struggles this season but they are still a much superior team than Rutgers. On paper it is hard to miss the level of talent superiority Penn State has over the Scarlet Knights. As a result, I don’t think they will have much of a problem taking care of business on the road. As long as the Nittany Lions don’t hurt themselves they should come out of Piscataway with a blowout win.
Penn State 41 Rutgers 10
Kraigen Rasalla: (7-3)
Rutgers is in consideration for one of the worst Division I football teams of all time while Penn State is looking to seal its eighth win of the season. Seems like a long time ago when the Rutgers old coaching staff was calling this a rivalry game and Penn State was narrowly leaving Piscataway with a victory. Things will be much different this time around as I expect the offensive line to assert their dominance as they did from time to time against Wisconsin and for Miles Sanders to take full advantage. This should be a big game to see younger players in action and should give fans a reason to watch the game in its entirety. Expect the defense to come close to pitching a shut out, as well.
Penn State 45 Rutgers 7