Penn State will play its final home game of the season on Saturday when they host the Rutgers Scarlet Knights for a Big Ten matchup. the stakes of the game have been diminished greatly with Penn State’s slide since the beginning of October, but a win will clinch a winning season and could help send Penn State off with a little momentum for its final game of the regular season the following week at Michigan State.
This week we continue our series of Behind Enemy Lines posts with Kristian Dyer of Rutgers Wire. Rutgers Wire launched this season and is providing plenty of terrific Rutgers content, and we are happy to have them as a partner site. So who better to ask about everything regarding the Rutgers program than Kristian?
Here’s what Kristian had to say about the Scarlet Knights and this weekend’s matchup.
Nittany Lions Wire: What are youur initial thoughts on this weekend’s matchup?
Kristian Dyer: This is a Penn State team that will look to right the ship after a brutal schedule the past month. Penn State is favored and rightly so. If Rutgers can hang steady in the trenches and create some level of pressure on Sean Clifford, it could be a closer game than some expect. But Penn State has some playmakers on offense in Jahan Dotson and Parker Washington…one look at the Rutgers tape from Michigan State shows that the Scarlet Knights have struggled giving up big plays.
Nittany Lions Wire: Who on offense should Penn State be concerned with?
Kristian: The loss of Aron Cruickshank is tough for Rutgers because he had the potential to break open plays. Tight end Johnny Langan has emerged as a reliable target the past few weeks and he is also used as a halfback and a short-yardage quarterback. Very versatile player. Bo Melton, recently named to the Senior Bowl, is healthy and playing well the past few weeks.
Nittany Lions Wire: For those who don’t follow Rutgers, what makes this matchup very interesting?
Kristian: Rutgers has yet to beat Penn State since the Scarlet Knights joined the Big Ten in 2014. This game is for bragging rights but also carries intrigue for recruiting purposes. The Nittany Lions have dominated the region in recruiting since James Franklin arrived. If Rutgers can be competitive in this game, it would show development and growth, something for Greg Schiano to be able to sell this offseason.
Nittany Lions Wire: What did you take away from last year’s game?
Kristian: Simply that Rutgers is a solidly coached team but lacking talent. Last year, Rutgers wasn’t necessarily blown out by Penn State but lacks playmakers and needed size on both sides of the line. It will take a couple more recruiting cycles and there might be a hiccup here or there along the way but the last two recruiting classes should help close this gap.
Nittany Lions Wire: What is one reason why Rutgers defeat Penn State?
Kristian: Last week, Rutgers created six turnovers in a dominating performance at Indiana. And while Penn State is clearly no Indiana, the Scarlet Knights have done some nice things at times this year in creating takeaways. If they can force a couple of turnovers and capitalize on any Penn State mistakes, they have a chance in this game – albeit slim. Why slim? Six turnovers last week and just 17 points from those takeaways. Against an opponent like this one, it isn’t simply good enough to have an interception or recover a fumble, Rutgers must get points is they are able to create turnovers. Even if head coach James Franklin thinks punter Adam Korsak is the best in the country, Rutgers needs points this weekend. Field position won’t be enough.
Our thanks to Kristian Dyer of Rutgers Wire for sharing his insight on the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. Visit Rutgers Wire for continuing Rutgers coverage.
Who are the experts picking in Penn State's matchup vs. Rutgers?
Jahan Dotson named semifinalist for Biletnikoff Award
Greg Schiano admits Rutgers is not a true rival to Penn State
Penn State opens as big favorite at home vs. Rutgers in Week 12
Penn State football vs. Rutgers kickoff time announced