Rutgers football has won three of its last four games in Big Ten action, but face a very difficult challenge on Saturday. Penn State has lost two heartbreakers in a row and will be looking to take out their anger on the Scarlet Knights in front of close to 100,000 fans on Homecoming. The oddsmakers have Rutgers as 31 point underdogs as of Friday morning. The good news is that the Rutgers is 5-1 against the spread in Big Ten action this season. However, will this team have enough to seriously threaten the Nittany Lions? Here is what our staff is thinking ahead of this game.
T.J. Jurkiewicz: Buckle your seatbelts fellow Scarlet Knights, it’s going to be a turbulent ride. Ugh. Penn State is fresh off another heartbreaking loss and conventional wisdom would leave you to believe that they will be demotivated in this one. NOT SO FAST MY FRIEND! I think Penn State is going to take out a lot of anger this Saturday and this game could get out of hand in a hurry. James Franklin would run the score up on his dying mother if he could so this spread looks about right to me. I’m actually going to pass altogether on picking this one and just watch the game hoping for a miracle of some sort.
David Anderson: Well, only two of us picked Maryland a week ago, and I fess up to being one of them. The game for the second week played out almost exactly as I figured it would, coming down to the last possession but unlike my prediction, Rutgers held on. Rutgers won’t rest on their laurels, but Penn State is WAY better than Maryland especially at quarterback. A good point was made that of all the whoopings RU accumulated in the Big Ten, Penn State’s best performance was last year and that game was only 9-0 at halftime. Rutgers defense is better, but so is Penn State’s offense, so that is likely a push. Rutgers offense is slightly better, but Penn State’s defensive front is pretty good and unlike the Terps, will be able to force RU to throw the ball. Gio is healthier than he was the Michigan game so there is some hope. I’m hoping for a miracle, but doubt RU can improve this year on two wins in the all-time series. Nov 17, 2018 is circled on my calendar. Penn State 41, Rutgers 20.
Bob Cancro: So I’m thinking back to mid-September and writing a post about how it was the worst time for Rutgers to be playing Nebraska: both the AD (he was fired that week) and the HC were on the hot seat. Okay, take that scenario and pump it up on steroids. Two weeks ago, Penn State was sitting pretty at 7-0 and on the verge of being in the College Football Playoffs. Now, at 7-2, after two devastatingly painful losses (wait, I’ve got to stop laughing), they might not even make the Big Ten Championship game, despite a very favorable schedule. Coach Hype loves to poke Rutgers, recruiting prominence is up for grabs, Saquon Barkley is Saquon Barkley. They’re real good, we’re real gritty. Not a favorable matchup. As we have since the Illinois game, we’ll play tough, but talent wins out. Penn State 35 Rutgers 10
Cara Sanfilippo: I’m racking my brain for any way we could pull out an upset here. Nothing would make me happier than to shock a team that has notoriously badmouthed our program. I think that Rutgers will have a lot of confidence going into this game, and that hopefully they will play offensively like they have nothing to lose. The offense is improving, and that should allow us to put some points on the board. I think Rutgers will play it close, but the truth is the environment in Happy Valley is hostile and overwhelming, and I do think that will overwhelm our team in the end. To Bob’s point, it would truly hurt Jame’s Franklin’s pride to lose to Rutgers, and he will do everything in his power to rack up the points. Boy, do I wish this game was at HPSS. Penn State 31, Rutgers 13
Namrita Singh: Penn State is coming off of consecutive loses and the Scarlet Knights open up as 31-point underdogs, having won three of their last four games. This season has already been an improvement over last and having a (relatively) strong outing against as formidable an opponent as Penn State is would be huge. I do expect the offense to put points on the board (and avoid being shut out) and to take advantage of a potential slow start by the Nittany Lions. But even during last season's game (a 39-0 shutout), as David mentioned earlier, the score at halftime was 9-0 so this game could (and probably will) slip away from Rutgers in the second half. Gus Edwards could have a big game. It definitely won't be pretty but there will be more signs of improvement and that's all I can really ask for. Penn State 37, Rutgers 14
Dave White: Honestly, I don’t really have a feel for this game. Penn State is coming off a couple of brutal losses after being #2 in the country and Rutgers is flying high after winning 3 of 4 Big Ten games. Yeah, you know that. But that can go either way. If Penn State is really down and Rutgers is on the come up, Rutgers can and will keep this close. But Saquan Barkley is in this game and you know Penn State is hungry. The spread, at last check, was 31 in favor of Penn State. I think Rutgers covers, but it won’t be close. Penn State 42 Rutgers 14
Jayson Love: Expectations are starting to rise around Chris Ash's Rutgers program with three Big Ten wins already in the bank for 2017. Earlier this season, fans of the team would have barely predicted one Big Ten win let alone three. Now, Knights fans are lamenting the misstep against Eastern Michigan and talking about bowl possibilities. To that point I have even heard chatter about "beating Penn State" at Happy Valley this weekend. However, it is important to note that the Scarlet Knights were installed as 28 point underdogs by those in the know, and the line has moved toward 30 in most sports books. I think the Rutgers defense and special teams can keep it close for a while, and I do think Rutgers finds the end zone at least once, but it will have a hard time containing the athletes PSU brings to the table. Penn State 38 Rutgers 10
Aaron Breitman: I think this is a very difficult game for Rutgers. Penn State will be looking for blood on homecoming and after two heartbreaking losses, it's certainly bad timing to travel to Happy Valley. I do think the Rutgers defense has a chance to be disruptive with the offensive line of Penn State and cause some problems. Chris Ash and this team really have nothing to lose in this game and should play with confidence early on. Depth and overall talent on the roster heavily favors Penn State and ultimately they'll wear down Rutgers in the second half after they put up a respectable fight. Penn State 38 Rutgers 17
Mike Voza: Hello Rutgers Nation. I am writing from Cali, Colombia in South America site of the 2017 Pan American Dance Competition where my Daughter Danielle's Hofstra University Dance Team is representing the Great Nation of the United States.
I am very excited to send my post in since I am picking the Pennsylvania State University this week. Why am I excited to do so . ... . Well I think I have been wrong each and every week this season so I am certainly hoping to be wrong once again.
Penn State probably has stopped reading their press clippings and started to pay attention in the meeting room and on the practice field. Rutgers is coming off of a huge win that now has them looking at a bowl bid. This is always a tough combination to handicap.
The Nittany Lions have more talent at the current time and the offensive fire power may prove to be a little too much.
Penn State 30 Rutgers 23. Go Rutgers ! Go Hofstra Dance Team ! Good Luck to All !!
David Brown: I wrote about Saquon Barkley being “Weapon X” because he will be the most dangerous player on the gridiron this Saturday in Happy Valley. He is the heart and soul for Penn State because of the attention he attracts on defense which allows option read for Trace McSorley. Penn State have been shaky lately with two back to back B1G losses. Now they are no longer in the CFP, this game against Rutgers is a consolation prize for homecoming.
This could be a chance for Rutgers to pounce on the Nittany Lions early. Rutgers is playing with nothing to lose and want to prove that they belong in the B1G. After winning 3 out 4 games, RU is feeling good and buying into Chris Ash’s vision. It will take some serious blue collar work on all three phases of the game to defeat Penn State. Their crowd is enormous with 100,000 plus rooting their team on. Being homecoming, the fans will be ruthless and creating home-field advantage through their decibels.
I think Rutgers will start out good but Penn State will prevail. I think PSU just has more talent right now but it won’t be a shutout like 2016. Barkley is sensational and I see him bouncing back after the disappointing performance in Lansing, MI. Penn State 35 Rutgers 17
None of us see an upset on Saturday. How do you envision this game playing out? Sound off in the comments.