Penn State vs Rutgers Odds, Predictions: Value on Big Ten Favorite
Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images. Pictured: Sean Clifford & James Franklin (Penn State)
Penn State vs Rutgers Odds
Late-November college football can be a real test of fandom. The odds are that most teams will be playing in "meaningless" games after falling short of lofty and optimistic preseason goals.
That's exactly the case this Saturday with Penn State traveling to Piscataway to take on Rutgers.
The Nittany Lions' hopes of competing for a Big Ten title have been dashed, while Rutgers has realized just how unlikely it's to become bowl eligible, needing wins over Penn State and Maryland in consecutive weeks.
Despite both teams failing to accomplish offseason goals, they remain on completely different levels of performance. Penn State has won 15 straight against the Scarlet Knights, including a 28-0 beatdown last season in which Sean Clifford missed most of the game with injury.
Can we expect James Franklin and Penn State to continually blowout inferior competition, or does Rutgers have something in store to keep this rivalry within 19 points for just the third time in eight tries?
As has become customary in the Franklin era, Penn State blows out the bad Big Ten teams and loses to the good ones.
The last three weeks are a microcosm of this, with the Nittany Lions losing by double-digits to Ohio State, only to come back and beat Indiana and Maryland by 31 and 30 points, respectively.
Fortunately for Penn State, Rutgers is much more the latter two than former, and the Nittany Lions will have a huge talent edge, regardless of how long the starters play.
Penn State ranks only 48th in rushing offense this season — with 178.8 yards per game — but it has taken a big step in the right direction this season with freshmen Nicholas Singleton and Kaytron Allen. Both backs average north of 5.0 yards a carry and have combined for 18 touchdowns on the ground.
No one has been more polarizing in State College than Clifford, but the sixth-year senior became Penn State's all-time leader in passing yards last week against the Hoosiers. He threw only eight passes against Rutgers last year thanks to injury, and it will likely be another short day for him this season.
Expect offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich to really experiment in this game, particularly leaning on underclassmen to help build towards next season. Drew Allar should see plenty of time, as could Christian Veilleux.
Passing defense has been one of Penn State's biggest strengths this season thanks to lockdown corners like Joey Porter Jr. and a pass rush that's generated 29 sacks, the 16th-best number in the country.
Porter will in all likelihood miss his second-straight game after suffering with a bout of appendicitis, but it shouldn't be too much of a concern with Rutgers' lack of a passing attack and the Nittany Lions' deep roster of secondary players.
Rutgers dropped its third straight game last week against Michigan State, dropping the Scarlet Knights to 4-6 on the season and making their bowl aspirations extremely unlikely.
Quarterback Gavin Wimsatt will be making his fourth straight start for Rutgers, and while he hasn't been great, he has improved in every single game, passing for a career-high 236 yards and two touchdowns last week.
That's promising news for a team that has had to rely almost exclusively on the ground game. Rutgers rebounded for 248 yards against the Spartans following two straight weeks rushing for fewer than 50 yards.
While Rutgers relies on its ground game, it has struggled against strong running defenses akin to Penn State. The Nittany Lions will be the fifth team Rutgers has faced with a top-26 rushing defense. In the first four, the Scarlet Knights averaged only 67 yards rushing.
Rutgers has been thumped by the big boys of the Big Ten, allowing an average of 37.2 points against conference opponents that are .500 or better (five teams).
Run defense has been the biggest area of concern in those games, as those are the only games this season Rutgers has allowed more than 100 yards rushing.
Rutgers has allowed 222.6 yards rushing and an average of three rushing touchdowns in those contests. And with Penn State having a deep stable of talented running backs, it could likely be more of the same.
Penn State vs Rutgers Matchup Analysis
Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Penn State and Rutgers match up statistically:
Penn State Offense vs. Rutgers Defense
|** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)|
Rutgers Offense vs. Penn State Defense
|** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)|
Pace of Play / Other
|SP+ Special Teams||37||66|
|Seconds per Play||25.9 (53)||27.9 (99)|
|Rush Rate||52.6% (70)||57.2% (41)|
Data via CollegeFootballData.com (CFBD), FootballOutsiders, SP+, Pro Football Focus and SportSource Analytics.
Penn State vs Rutgers Betting Pick
This matchup is hard to call a "rivalry" because Rutgers has so rarely put up much of a fight. Remarkably, the Scarlet Knights haven't scored more than seven points in this annual game against Penn State since 2014 when Rutgers first joined the Big Ten.
Even then it was only 10 points.
In the last seven meetings, the average margin of victory for Penn State over the Scarlet Knights has been 24.4 points.
Even with Penn State likely dipping deep into its depth chart, I'm not too concerned of a backdoor cover. Penn State fans are ready for this year to be over because of how good the underclassmen are.
In second-half blowouts against Maryland and Indiana, the Nittany Lions have allowed only seven total points.
This Rutgers offense simply cannot score, and I don't think Penn State is favored by nearly enough. Look for the Nittany Lions to abuse Rutgers on the ground and roll out to another big win over the Scarlet Knights
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