Penn State did its part to keep a division title in sight heading to the final week of the regular season.
On a cold and miserable night in New Jersey, No. 8 Penn State got off to a rough start by botching the opening kickoff and having to settle for three field goals on four first-half red zone trips. Fortunately for Penn State, they were playing Rutgers and were able to easily overcome these first-half warts en route to a 39-0 win to improve to 9-2 overall and 7-1 in Big Ten play with one final game to be played next week. A division championship could potentially be on the line.
Kicker Tyler Davis provided the sure and steady foot Penn State needed early on to make sure points were not being totally wasted Saturday night. Davis kicked a career-high four field goals in the win, with three kicks in the first-half accounting for all of the scoring before halftime. Eventually, Penn State’s offense would get warmed up. Saquon Barkley rushed for 92 yards and a touchdown and added 25 yards on two receptions. Miles Sanders got in the mix with 85 rushing yards and Trace McSorley added 55 rushing yards to go with his 210 passing yards and passing touchdown before getting a rest in the fourth quarter. Backup quarterback Tommy Stevens put his mop-up duty to good use with 61 rushing yards and a touchdown run as Penn State as a team rushed for 339 yards.
Penn State’s defense held Rutgers to just 87 yards. Penn State is the second team to hold Rutgers to fewer than 100 yards of offense this season, joining Michigan (39 yards). Sure, it was Rutgers, but Penn State’s defense played very well. There really isn’t a whole lot more to say about this one, so let’s move right to the big picture for next week.
Big Ten East Clinching Scenarios
With just one last weekend to go, the scenarios are pretty straight forward. If Michigan wins at Ohio State next week, the Wolverines win the Big Ten East Division title and go to Indianapolis for the Big Ten Championship Game. If Ohio State beats Michigan, then Penn State must beat Michigan State to clinch the division. If Ohio State wins and Penn State loses, then the Buckeyes head to Indianapolis.
Penn State will know either before kicking off or shortly after the game starts what the situation will be. Ohio State and Michigan are set for a traditional noon kickoff in Columbus, and Penn State and Michigan State will kick at 3:30 pm. Beaver Stadium should be electric regardless of the situation with a shot at a New Years Six bowl potentially on the line regardless, but if Ohio State scores the win then things will be really wild in the stadium on Saturday.
I won’t bother you with playoff pictures for now. Michigan State… Michigan State… Michigan State…
Michigan State… Michigan State… Michigan State.
Penn State wraps up the regular season with a home game against Michigan State. It’s been a while since the Nittany Lions laid claim to the Land Grant Trophy, and winning it back may be no easy task. As poor as Michigan State has been this season, the Spartans are not a team to take lightly. They gave Ohio State a good battle in East Lansing on Saturday and will look to play spoiler next week in State College.