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Penn State Football: Five Things to Watch as the Nittany Lions Take on Rutgers

by on November 29, 2019 2:00 PM

Penn State and Rutgers take the field at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday for the final regular season game for both teams. Rutgers looks to end a horrid season and head into a coaching search while Penn State will try to make it to 10 wins for the third time in four years. Of course anything can happen on any given Saturday, but it is what it is. Rutgers isn't very good and, for all the details you can nitpick about, Penn State is a quality team.

So what to watch for on Saturday might not change the world, but it'll give you something to keep an eye on rather than the scoreboard.

Show Up: 

It's Rutgers. I mean that with all due respect because the Scarlet Knights are out there and they're going to try. But these teams on paper, are not the same. So in theory, unless Rutgers has a historic upset on the mind, Penn State just needs to show up and play it's C, B or A game to put this away and improve to 10 wins. College football is chock-full of insanity, of wild upsets and unexpected things, but Saturday should not be one of those days. Of course, that's what everyone says right before it happens.

Don't miss the bus if you're Penn State, get to the game and try not to let the turkey make your 40 time a full second slower.

Little Things:

If you view Saturday as a scrimmage of sorts, the questions about the game are a lot less about broad, sweeping generalities relative to the program and a lot more about development and the little details. Can Penn State avoid special team's penalties? Can younger players show strides on the field? It's Rutgers, so not every good sign is an absolute proof of change, but nobody has ever turned down playing good football. The less Penn State can beat itself on Saturday, the better off it'll be. Don't make this game harder than it needs to be, and that means taking care of the little details along the way.

Your Turn:

Penn State losing Justin Shorter means little in terms of practical offensive changes, but the potential absence of KJ Hamler and/or Pat Freiermuth in 2020 means a lot of new faces will have to step up on the offensive side of the ball. This particular issue isn't entirely new this week, but Penn State playing its easiest game in months means younger guys will finally have a chance to show their worth. Do any young receivers show promise? Saturday might be the chance to find out. If nothing else, young guys making catches is a positive for that entire offensive room.

Close The Door:

It's hard to picture a situation where Penn State lets Rutgers back into the game after taking a lead, but the Nittany Lions avoiding that second quarter or second half lull will go a long way toward making win No. 10 a comfortable one. The Scarlet Knights don't really have the firepower to stage a big comeback, but Penn State's ability to slam the door shut on even the idea of a comeback would go a long way toward general Beaver Stadium morale. Again, don't make this game harder than it needs to be.

See You Soon:

Saturday is the final home game of the season which means for many fans it's the last time they will see the Nittany Lions in person for several months. Each of these things are in the eye of the beholder, but Penn State's ability to put on a good show, win with ease and look like a top 10 team will help give fans a positive push into the postseason. Penn State has a rare chance to end the regular season with an easy victory that will remind everyone how far the program has come. No big rivalry game here, no dramatic top 10 matchup. Just a chance for a blowout. Maybe it's unfair to put it that way, but until Rutgers puts up a fight, you can't say it's wrong to look ahead. This is a final goodbye for 2019, so they might as well give fans a reminder that 10 wins aren't a failure.

Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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