In the team's final home game of the season, the Rutgers football team will host Penn State this weekend. The Scarlet Knights (4-6, 1-6) will honor their seniors and thank their fans before the 3:30 p.m. matchup against the No. 11 Nittany Lions (8-2, 5-2). Here are three keys to Saturday’s game.
Build on last week
While Rutgers wasn’t able to claim a win last week at Michigan State, the team showed a lot of improvement after a few disappointing performances in the weeks prior. The offense gained 460 yards, with sophomore running back Kyle Monangai and sophomore quarterback Gavin Wimsatt both setting new career marks for themselves.
Penn State provides a more stout challenge on defense than the Spartans (5-5, 3-4) as the program has the 16th-best scoring defense in the nation, allowing less than 20 points per game. The team has also done a good job stopping teams in the red zone, only allowing scores 71.4 percent of the time which is good for eighth in the nation.
The offensive line will be a large part of determining the kind of day that the skill position players have. If they can pass protect and create holes for running backs, the Knights could have another 400-plus-yard performance.
Continuing to focus on the offensive line, the Nittany Lions have caused havoc in the backfield in their last few games. They posted six sacks against Indiana and followed that performance up with seven sacks in their win over Maryland. Penn State has seen 14 different players record a sack this season, which is tied for the most among Power Five programs.
Last week, Rutgers did not allow any sacks against Michigan State and has only allowed 13 throughout this season. The Knights need to give Wimsatt as much time as possible to read the defense and find the open receiver. Otherwise, it could be a long day for the young quarterback.
Finish an upset
Two weeks ago, Rutgers had Michigan on the ropes after taking a 3-point lead into the halftime break. The third quarter saw a complete collapse, with Wimsatt throwing three interceptions and the game getting out of hand quickly.
The Knights showed that they can hang with one of the best teams in the nation, but they need to replicate that performance for two halves in order to get a season-defining victory.
With a raucous crowd packing the stands at SHI Stadium on Busch campus, Rutgers has all the tools to possibly shock the college football world and beat one of its biggest rivals.
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