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2021 Rutgers Football Game Preview #11 at Penn State

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The Scarlet Knights will travel to University Park Saturday to take on the Nittany Lions.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 13 Rutgers at Indiana Photo by James Black/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

How To Watch, Stream & Listen

Rutgers (5-5; 2-5) at Penn State (6-4; 3-4)

Where: Beaver Stadium, University Park, PA

Kick-off: Saturday, November 20 at Noon ET

Weather: 44 degrees, cloudy with an 7% chance of rain, 10-15 mph winds

TV: BTN with Cory Provus (play-by-play), Matt Millen (color), Elise Menaker (sideline)

BTN GameFinder

Stream: FOX Sports App

Radio: RWJBarnabas Health Rutgers Sports Network (WCTC 14-50-AM, WOR 710-AM, XM 390) with Chris Carlin (play-by-play), Julian Pinnix-Odrick (analyst) and Anthony Fucilli (sideline); WRSU 88.7 FM - Jake Schmied & Chris Tsakonas

Current Spread: Penn State -17.5

Series History: Penn State leads 29-2, Penn State defeated Rutgers 23-7 last season.

Penn State SB Nation Site: Black Shoe Diaries

Penn State Scouting Report

Statistical Leaders

Rutgers

Passing: Noah Vedral - 153-for-253, 60.5%, 1,590 yards, 7 touchdowns, 5 interceptions

Rushing: Isaih Pacheco - 554 yards on 146 carries, 3.8 ypc, 5 touchdowns

Receiving: Bo Melton - 48 catches for 523 yards, 10.9 ypc, 3 touchdowns

Defense: Olakunle Fatukasi - 81 tackles and 3.5 sacks, Max Melton - 3 interceptions

Penn State

Passing: Sean Clifford - 222-for-354, 62.7%, 939 yards, 17 touchdowns, 6 interceptions

Rushing: Keyvone Lee - 375 yards on 76 carries, 4.9 ypc, 1 touchdowns

Receiving: Jahan Dotson - 80 catches for 993 yards, 12.4 ypc, 9 touchdowns

Defense: Ellis Brooks - 85 tackles, Arnold Ebiketie - 8.5 sacks, Ji’Ayir Brown - 4 interceptions

What To Watch For

When Rutgers has the ball

Rutgers is coming off its best performance of the season. In a 38-3 victory over Indiana, the Scarlet Knights rushed for 218 total yards and Isaih Pacheco was able to find the end zone twice. Finally, the offense was able to put together a strong game plan on the ground but that is likely to be short-lived.

Arnold Ebiketie leads a Penn State defensive line that is playing at a high level. If the ground game is taken away, the Scarlet Knights have not shown that they can pass the ball effectively to stay in a game. Noah Vedral has just seven passing touchdowns on the year. Pass rushers like Ebiketie, who leads the team with 8.5 sacks, would be able to pin their ears back and get to the quarterback.

Penn State has given up some big drives this season but they have been to the likes of Ohio State and Michigan. The Scarlet Knights are not on that level and it is hard to imagine this is the week that the downfield attack gets going. If Bo Melton is taken away, there is not much else on the outside. That has been a focus for opposing defenses. Melton is averaging 65.4 yards per game and just 59.2 in Big Ten games.

The defense of Penn State has been stout all season long. It could be a long day for Rutgers if they become one-dimensional or are stopped quickly. This will impact the defense as well since they would be on the field most of the game.

When Penn State has the ball

There could be some big plays in store for Sean Clifford and Jahan Dotson in what could be their final game at Beaver Stadium. The offense has not exactly been explosive this season but they certainly have a wide receiver that can make a play at any moment.

Dotson, the Biletnikoff candidate, has emerged as one of the best receivers in the nation. Against a mediocre secondary, there could be some big plays for the Nittany Lions. This is especially true if the ball is in the air a lot.

Penn State has struggled to run the ball this season. Keyvone Lee was able to get it going a bit against Michigan but this is a part of the offense that has not been effective. Rutgers might be able to make this an ugly game in the trenches but Penn State could counter by putting the ball in the air. If this becomes a passing game, that does not favor Rutgers.

The Nittany Lions should be able to control the ball and win the time of possession. The Scarlet Knights cold get worn down defensively and this does not bode well.

Could Rutgers win this game?

To say that this matchup has been one-sided is an understatement. In certain games, records can be thrown out the window and overall talent and physicality takes over. This is what has happened when Penn State takes on Rutgers. In Piscataway last season, Penn State entered at 1-5 but beat up Rutgers from the opening minutes. There might be a similar feel in this game. The Nittany Lions are not lighting up the scoreboard but should be able to control the game on both sides of the ball. It would be a big surprise to see Rutgers win this game as a three-score underdog.

Final thoughts

It’s amazing how one victory can change the tone around a team. Now only did Rutgers beat Indiana, they finally picked up a blowout victory over a Big Ten team. This should instill confidence moving forward. A potential win-and-in game could be setup next weekend against Maryland. The Scarlet Knights might have a path to a bowl at 5-7 but that should not be the goal. This would be a huge upset and a signature win. Not that Rutgers would mail it in but the winnable game is next weekend against the Terrapins. This matchup is not one that should be harped on once it is over. The postseason rides on the final regular season game of the year.