Penn State Football

Previews, predictions and features on Penn State-Rutgers

Coming off two straight road losses, Penn State returns home.

The No. 14 Nittany Lions (7-2, 4-2 Big Ten) host Rutgers (4-5, 3-3) at noon Saturday at Beaver Stadium.

The Scarlet Knights, who are two wins away from bowl eligibility, have (slim) hopes of upsetting Penn State. According to S&P+ ratings, Rutgers has a 13 percent chance of winning on Saturday.

Will the Nittany Lions take care of business and blow out the Scarlet Knights? Or will losses at Ohio State and Michigan State still linger?

Whatever you’re looking for, from a Penn State coverage angle, we’ve got you covered right here:

Previews (Looking at the game from different angles)

Penn State ‘focused on Rutgers,’ not back-to-back losses: The Nittany Lions feel like they’re over losses at Ohio State and Michigan State. Their back-to-back shortcomings are behind them. They’re refocused and refueled to finish the 2017 season on a high note. “Losses are in the past. Wins are in the past. What matters now is Rutgers,” wideout DeAndre Thompkins said.

What to watch for: The Nittany Lions have won 25 of 27 meetings against Rutgers. The last time the Scarlet Knights got the better of the Nittany Lions was in 1988, when James Franklin was a student at Neshaminy High School. In fact, that’s the last time Rutgers has defeated a ranked Big Ten opponent. Here’s what you should keep an eye on Saturday.

Scouting the opponent with the Asbury Park Press’ Rutgers beat writer: Believe it or not, Rutgers still has something to play for in November. The Scarlet Knights (4-5, 3-3 Big Ten) are two wins away from bowl eligibility. They’d need to win two of their next three: at Penn State, at Indiana and vs. Michigan State. We caught up with Josh Newman, Rutgers beat writer for the Asbury Park Press, to discuss that and more.

Ryan Bates, Ryan Buchholz injury updates: Franklin said at his Tuesday press conference that he’s hoping to have Buchholz back “sooner rather than later,” and offensive lineman Steven Gonzalez noted that Bates is “doing what he has to do to get back as fast as he can.” Both players were injured at Ohio State and didn’t play against Michigan State.

College Football Playoff rankings analysis: Can Penn State make a New Year’s Six bowl? That, Week 11 rooting interests and more here in this in-depth look at the No. 14 Nittany Lions.

Penn State-Rutgers week podcast: Andrew Callahan of Lions 247 joined the pod to put Penn State’s season so far in perspective, look at a couple keys for Rutgers on Saturday and more.

Features (Getting to know the Nittany Lions)

How Penn State football is dominating the recruiting battle in New Jersey: Penn State has made the Garden State a pipeline while towering over Rutgers for years. And with the Scarlet Knights traveling to central Pennsylvania for Saturday’s expected one-sided affair, the spotlight on Penn State’s supremacy becomes even more evident.

Penn State’s Saeed Blacknall an enigma at wide receiver: The New Jersey native had four catches for 74 yards at Northwestern and caught a 27-yard touchdown at Michigan State, during which he broke three tackles. With 214 receiving yards on 12 catches, the 6-foot-3 target’s 17.83 yards per catch is best on the team — but his 52.2 percent catch rate, via SportSource Analytics, is the worst of any Nittany Lion with 10 or more targets.

Marcus Allen ‘one of the best’ safeties assistant Tim Banks has worked with: Allen, whose 42 starts and counting are most on the team, is going to be missed when he moves on to the NFL. Penn State safeties coach Tim Banks knows that all too well. “I don’t if I’ve had a guy with that type of skill-set and that type of size. He can do it all,” Banks said.

John Reid recovering from injury: Penn State cornerback John Reid, who suffered a significant injury in the spring, “could probably play” if the Nittany Lions were hurting in the secondary — but James Franklin said Thursday night he doesn’t plan to play Reid this season. “I actually think if we really needed to, we could probably play him this year toward the end of the year,” Franklin said Thursday. “We won’t do that because he has a redshirt available.”

5 Questions” with Kyle Brady: The consensus All-American in 1994 discussed Saquon Barkley’s chance to end the top-10 NFL draft drought, Mike Gesicki’s NFL future and former Nittany Lion tight end Adam Breneman.

Miscellaneous (Other PSU stuff you might be interested in)

Penn State-Pitt series could be extended past 2019: Panthers athletic director Heather Lyke, in an interview with The Canton Repository earlier this week, said “we’re working hard” on a new deal. In response, Penn State athletic director Sandy Barbour declined to confirm a newly presented contract. But she didn’t nix the idea either.

Trace McSorley, Brandon Smith named semifinalists for national awards: McSorley is one of 16 semifinalists for the Davey O’Brien National Quarterback of the Year, while Smith is one of 20 candidates for the Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year.

Predictions (For Penn State-Rutgers and elsewhere in the Big Ten)

Rutgers at No. 14 Penn State, noon BTN

Josh Moyer: Penn State 38-17

John McGonigal: Penn State 49-10

Gordon Brunskill: Penn State 45-13

Ryne Gery: Penn State 35-10

Nate Cobler: Penn State 50-13

No. 12 Michigan State at No. 13 Ohio State, noon FOX

Josh Moyer: Ohio State 31-24

John McGonigal: Ohio State 28-21

Gordon Brunskill: Ohio State 24-23

Ryne Gery: Ohio State 28-17

Nate Cobler: Ohio State 27-20

Indiana at Illinois, noon BTN

Josh Moyer: Indiana 27-13

John McGonigal: Indiana 24-7

Gordon Brunskill: Indiana 31-20

Ryne Gery: Indiana 35-17

Nate Cobler: Indiana 42-38

Nebraska at Minnesota, noon p.m. FS1

Josh Moyer: Nebraska 24-21

John McGonigal: Minnesota 31-21

Gordon Brunskill: Minnesota 27-24

Ryne Gery: Minnesota 27-24

Nate Cobler: Minnesota 30-23

No. 20 Iowa at No. 8 Wisconsin, 3:30 p.m. ABC

Josh Moyer: Wisconsin 28-27

John McGonigal: Iowa 23-21

Gordon Brunskill: Wisconsin 31-30

Ryne Gery: Wisconsin 31-20

Nate Cobler: Iowa 17-13

Michigan at Maryland, 3:30 p.m. BTN

Josh Moyer: Michigan 28-10

John McGonigal: Michigan 35-7

Gordon Brunskill: Michigan 24-21

Ryne Gery: Michigan 21-7

Nate Cobler: Michigan 28-21

Purdue at No. 25 Northwestern, 7 p.m. ESPN2

Josh Moyer: Northwestern 24-21

John McGonigal: Northwestern 30-28

Gordon Brunskill: Northwestern 24-17

Ryne Gery: Northwestern 35-24

Nate Cobler: Northwestern 33-24

Overall records: Josh Moyer 56-18, John McGonigal 56-18, Gordon Brunskill 54-20, Ryne Gery 56-18, Nate Cobler 55-19