Game Preview: Football vs. Rutgers
Penn State will welcome the Rutgers Scarlet Knights to Happy Valley for the final game of the 2019 regular season.
After coming off a tough loss to No. 2 Ohio State, the Nittany Lions will look to end the regular season on a high note with a win on senior day against Rutgers.
Despite no longer being in contention for the Big Ten championship, at 9-2, the Nittany Lions still have plenty to play for in terms of the postseason. The final week of college football’s regular season will go a long way in determining which cities the top teams will be traveling to during bowl season.
Rutgers, on the other hand, is sporting an overall record of 2-9. The Scarlet Knights will enter the weekend with the worst record in the Big Ten East division, tied for the worst record in the entire conference.
Questions Under Center
Sean Clifford had been the man under center for the Nittany Lions all season but was sidelined in the third quarter of last week’s contest against Ohio State.
Clifford was replaced by his backup, redshirt freshman Will Levis. Even after Clifford appeared ready to return to the field from his undisclosed injury, head coach James Franklin decided to stick with Levis, who led the team to 17 consecutive points in the third quarter. Levis added a much needed spark to the Penn State offense, which was held scoreless in the first half. The Nittany Lions ultimately fell short, as they were not able to pull off the upset in Columbus.
It will be interesting to see how Franklin distributes time at quarterback this week. In a game that is not projected to be close, Penn State should have every opportunity to make substitutions in order to give starters breaks and allow for younger players to showcase their abilities.
Saturday’s home game will be the last time several Nittany Lions play in front of a jam-packed Beaver Stadium. That group is mostly comprised of graduating seniors, but players who will be eligible for the NFL draft will also be taken into consideration.
Impact players who are now a part of the senior class are tight end Nick Bowers, offensive guard Steven Gonzalez, punter Blake Gillikin, safety Garrett Taylor, cornerback John Reid and linebackers Cam Brown and Jan Johnson.
Notable Nittany Lions who are draft-eligible after this season include defensive ends Yetur Gross-Matos and Shaka Toney, wide receiver KJ Hamler and tight end Pat Freiermuth.
Penn State should have no issues handling arguably the worst team in the Big Ten. Rutgers has struggled all season to score points. Quarterback Johnny Langan completed only 8 of 20 passing attempts for 57 yards last week against Michigan State. Langan and company could be in for more rough sailing against a Nittany Lions defense that has been one of the best in the country over the course of the regular season.
Prediction: Penn State 48, Rutgers 10
Ben Serfass is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.