Penn State closes its season today on the road at Wisconsin. The Nittany Lions enter with a record of 6-5 and are coming off a heartbreaking overtime loss at home against Nebraska. The season has had its share of ups and downs, but Penn State has a chance to end on a positive note. Unfortunately, the opponent presents a tough task, as the Badgers are ranked 14th and have a record of 9-2.
If you are planning on being in front of a TV for the game, it’s on ESPN at 3:30 pm EST. If you can’t get to a TV, the game is streaming live on Watch ESPN
Below are some of my thoughts as we approach kickoff in Penn State’s season finale.
• Wisconsin has been very impressive lately, especially on defense. The Badgers have given up just 10 points in the last two games and defeated a tough Minnesota team 20-7 on the road. The Nittany Lions have a tall task in front of them, especially with the game being in Madison, a place where the Badgers have yet to lose this year. Camp Randall is always a tough place to play. That’s not good for Penn State team that has yet to win a Big Ten road game this season.
• As mentioned, this is a tough matchup for the Nittany Lions in a hostile environment. A key to success will be to establish the run game early on. Zach Zwinak, who lost his starting job midway through the season, is now clearly the number one threat in the Penn State backfield. Zwinak has a streak of three games with at least 145 yards rushing. Wisconsin has a good run defense, allowing just 99.1 yards a game. Although it could be tough sledding on the ground for the Nittany Lions, expect them to try to establish the ground game, especially early.
• The future is now at Penn State. With no bowl game to play for, this game is the last opportunity for the Nittany Lions to take the field this season. This will be an excellent opportunity for some of the younger players to continue to gain valuable playing experience. Freshman tight end Adam Breneman has touchdowns in two-straight games and seems to have built a solid chemistry with fellow freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg. That combination figures to be very productive in upcoming years. Wide receiver Geno Lewis, who has a chance to be the top receiver in the offense next season, has also come on as of late.
Last week’s loss to Nebraska was hard to swallow, as it took away the chance to equal the eight wins that last year’s team reached. However, a seven-win season is nothing to scoff at. That’s what the Nittany Lions are looking at with an upset victory today.
Follow VBR Co-Editor Barry Leonard Jr. on Twitter