(10) Penn St -39.5 over Rutgers:
In a clash that was virtually a must game to win in order to have any shot at the CFB playoff, Penn St (9-2 6-2) gave a valiant effort but fell short against top ranked Ohio St 28-17 last week at the shoe. JK Dobbins (36-157 4.4 2 TD) braved the elements and scored both of his TD in the first quarter and Josh Fields (16/22 188 2 TD) was efficient throwing for 2 more scores despite the Buckeyes committing 4 turnovers, 2 lost fumbles each by the aforementioned. Sean Clifford (10/17 71) was sacked 6 times and virtually a non-factor struggling to move the Nittanies downfield, while PSU was held to just 99 yards rushing, 227 overall. Chase Young returned with 10 tackles and made a huge impact recording 4 of OSU’s 6 sacks. Journey Brown (11-64 5.8 1 TD) and Will Levis (18-34 1.9 1 TD) brought Penn St to within 4 late in the third, but that’s as close as they could get. The Nittany Lions head to Piscataway to face Rutgers (2-9 0-8), as the Scarlet Knights are almost assured to butter a Big 10 bagel. Last week, Brian Lewerke (21/30 239 3 TD 1 INT) kept Sparty’s bowl hopes alive hooking up 3 times with Cody White (11-136 3 TD) as Michigan St pitched a 27-0 shutout over RU. MSU outgained Rutgers 395-140 recorded 4 sacks, forced 3 turnovers, and produced 25 first downs to the Scarlet Knights’ 7. Johnny Langan (8/20 57 1 INT) played miserably as Adam Korsak punted 9 times with Rutgers failing to generate any offense in their 3rd straight loss.
Clifford (178/299 2521 22 TD 6 INT) has had quite the contrast when it comes to overall performance in an otherwise successful season. Hoping for the Nittanies to earn a NY6 spot, he’s been extremely efficient in PSU’s wins but extremely subpar in their 2 defeats. His overall completion efficiency has come down despite limiting his mistakes and taking chances in tough spots. Hamler (49-836 8 TD) has had a solid season as Clifford’s top target, but a focus on next season will look to be depth in the recruiting class adding to a more experienced Patt Freiermuth (40-464 7 TD) and Jahan Dotson (23-418 3 TD). Brown (97-585 6.0 7 TD) has fared pretty well given the opportunity to rush for lenghty gains, but Clifford actually leads the team in opportunities on the ground (103-374 3.6 5 TD) when it comes to designed draws or options. Their attack is scrappy, but as the schedule loomed tougher, so did their overall efficiency averaging just 24 points over their last 6. Rutgers has shown heart at times as oversized dogs beating Liberty outright and scoring the most points against Ohio St all season. However, in addition to being mostly lackadaisical especially on defense where they’ve allowed almost 38 points per contest, they don’t have enough weapons to show urgency on either side of the ball. Willington Previlion and Tyreek Maddox-Williams each have registered 6 sacks, but overall have a nation low 8 total takeaways.
Major changes are in store come next season for overmatched and undersized Rutgers, especially at the helm. Nunzio Campanile has plenty of work to do with this offense after RU failed to bring back Greg Schiano as head coach, perhaps a good thing. Langan (68/135 676 4 TD 9 INT) is just a Freshman and lacks the accuracy, personnel, and arm strength despite ideal for a QB size at 6’3" and 235. The Scarlet Knights also can use depth in the receiving core led by a paltry Bo Melton (27-375 2 TD), although Raheem Blackshear (29-310 2 TD) has appeared in only 4 games due to a voluntary redshirt status. They need more depth especially at RB to complement one of their few bright spots in Isaih Pacheco (152-633 4.2 7 TD). Penn St allows just 15 points per contest and 90 rushing yards, 4th in the country against the ground game overall. Micah Parsons is a beast on the outside with his team leading 86 tackles, and Yetur Gross Matos has recorded a team high 10 sacks and will look to chase down Langan in an effort to limit opportunities for an otherwise inept Rutgers offense.
This may be a lot of points to lay away from Happy Valley, but truthfully when is it not when you have this much of a mismatch on paper and the field? We’re hoping this is a third-time charm hoping to be on the right way in Piscataway as we were unsuccessful not gaining any Liberty love nor bullying around from the top ranked team in the country several weeks back. The Rose Bowl might be out of the equation, but sitting a 12 in the CFP rankings, there’s an outside shot a 10-2 Nittany Lion team can move up into the top ten and be in the mix for a New Year’s Six bowl game.
I’ll have a second selection for Saturday later on in week 14.