Rutgers (5-5) head to Happy Valley to play Penn State (6-4) at noon on Saturday. A win would mean clinching bowl eligibility for the first time since 2014 and would also be a signature victory for the program. Do we think it will happen? Our contributors make their predictions here.
Dave White (5-5): The word bowl comes from the Olde English word “bolla”, meaning pot or cup. It also has ties with the German “bul” which means a round vessel. There’s also ties to Old Norse and even Old High German (I don’t know what that is)—the word “bhel”, which meant to swell. It also has ties to several different words for ball. But either way, the Online Etymology Dictionary is a very, very cool resource if you want to know where words come from. And I did want to know. Rutgers 24 Penn State 21
Chris Banker (5-0): This is going to be one heck of a football game. I don’t know that the on-field product will be aesthetically pleasing to either coaching staff, but things will be competitive in Happy Valley on Saturday. For as dominant as the Scarlet Knights looked in Bloomington, Penn State — even in a bit of a downtrend — is a far better team than the Hoosiers. They scheme better, have a stronger coaching staff, haul in more talented recruits, and will have 100,000+ at their back, whereas Indiana’s home-field advantage was non-existent. All of that matters in a big way. Greg Schiano’s group will make plays and this one will be interesting into the fourth quarter, but the Nittany Lions are still just a step or two ahead of Rutgers. It feels like the gap between these two programs is closing, but it might be another year or two before this box is finally checked. Penn State 24, Rutgers 14
Lawrence Krayn (2-4): I’m starting to get superstitious. Let’s try this one more time and see what happens. Penn State 31 Rutgers 17
Art Stein (8-2): The gap between Rutgers and Penn State is narrowing but the Scarlet Knights are not there yet. Penn State has a top ten scoring defense and an opportunistic offense. It is Senior Day at Happy Valley and there is just something about Rutgers that seems to piss off Penn State players and their rabid fan base. Unless Penn State presents an early Christmas gift of a half-dozen or so turnovers like Indiana did, Penn State should prevail. Penn State 38 Rutgers 21
Fred Gaudios (7-3): The way Rutgers could potentially win this game is the same way Illinois beat Penn State a few weeks back; in a head-scratching, rock fight, race to the bottom type of a football game that leads to jokes at the end about how uncomfortable B1G football can be to watch at times. I actually think this game will be easier on the eyes / less of a train wreck than that Illinois vs. PSU game, but unfortunately less appealing for Rutgers fans. The spread feels right, though I’d smash the under if I could. Next year in Piscataway will be interesting. Penn State 26 Rutgers 9
B Vincent P (6-3): I covered my thoughts in the last article “Path to a Bowl.” Penn State and Rutgers have both been inconsistent in 2021. For Rutgers to win they will need 3 or more turnovers to provide the offense a short field to work with. This is a tall task after creating 6 turnovers last week in Indiana. Conversely, RU offense will need to continue to limit the turnovers, as they did in Indiana. Penn State has the advantage at QB, the most critical position on the field. For RU to have a chance to win, outside of winning the turnover game, RU will have to keep PSU QB Sean Clifford and the PSU offense to less than 35% on 3th down conversions. I expect the Schiano youth movement to continue to play inspired ball. On the road in a hostile environment the longer the defense is on the field, mistakes are bound to happens. This will be a great learning experience to build upon for RU. Penn State 24 Rutgers 17
Greg Patuto (7-3): Rutgers should be feeling good about potentially earning a bowl berth but it is hard to imagine they fare well in this game. Penn State might be down at the moment but that did not stop them in 2020 — we all remember that matchup. There are certain games where overall talent and physicality take precedent. This is one of those games. The Nittany Lions still feature a strong front seven and can generate some big plays offensively. It might be hard for Rutgers get anything going offensively here. Penn State 28 Rutgers 10
Aaron Breitman (6-4): I agree there is some reason to think the winds are blowing in the right direction for Rutgers to pull the upset. And then my optimism gets stopped by a brick wall of reality as I remember how Penn State dominated Rutgers in the trenches last season. Other than the loss to Wisconsin, I don’t think a team beat them up as much physically on both sides of the ball as Penn State did in the past two seasons. I know the Nittany Lions are struggling, but I also think PSU has a weird way of getting up for playing Rutgers. They’re defensive line is still really good and and I think it will be hard for Rutgers to generate much offense to truly threaten the outcome. Penn State 17 Rutgers 7
Sean McGrath (3-3): Penn State has nothing to play for. Their offensive line is tied for last in the BIG with 27 sacks. They are facing a ton of injuries including their best defensive lineman and their quarterback. Rumors are swirling about James Franklin leaving for another job. They have lost 4 straight games… I hate how trendy of an upset pick this is becoming but I will do what I must.
Dick Anderson walked into Beaver Stadium as a former Paterno assistant, a two touchdown underdog, and 15 straight losses to Penn State. Greg Schiano will walk into the same stadium as a former Paterno assistant, a 17 point underdog, and 14 straight losses to Penn State. Rutgers 17 Penn State 14
Two out nine picked the Scarlet Knights. Let us know your thoughts and predictions in the comment section.