Know Your Penn State Football Opponent: Rutgers Scarlet Knights

STATE COLLEGE, PA - SEPTEMBER 19: Janarion Grant /

When you finish last in offense and defense in the Big Ten a season ago, there’s no where for Rutgers to go but up…right?

Penn State fans are going to witness the Nittany Lions simply out-talent opponents in 2017. This will be no more glaring than in their matchup with Rutgers in Happy Valley on November 11.

Rutgers is in the middle of a rebuild, and despite having a solid recruiting class, they will be no match for Penn State.

Rutgers coach Chris Ash will look to see an improvement from a 2-10 season last year — a season which featured nine consecutive losses and four shutouts. One of those, a 39-0 drubbing, came from Penn State.

Penn State is going to dominate Rutgers at the line of scrimmage, Saquon Barkley will have a field day with against the school which he was once committed. Trace McSorley will have ample to time to feed Mike Gesicki and his wide receivers.

While the defense may not pitch a shut out, they should come pretty close.

One new obstacle, and possibly the prize of Ash’s offseason, is not a recruit but a transfer.

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Quarterback Kyle Bolin, who started at Louisville before some guy named Lamar Jackson arrived, will be under center for Rutgers.

New offensive coordinator Jerry Kill

will bring a unique offense with many different looks to keep defenses on their toes. When you don’t have the talent, you need to find another way.

Bolin was solid for Louisville. He threw for 2,104 yards and 13 touchdowns with 10 picks, not a world-beater, but an upgrade.

He will count on true freshman Bo Melton and Arkansas grad transfer Damon Mitchell to help him revamp the Scarlet Knights passing attack. Michigan transfer Ahmir Mitchell tore his ACL during spring practice and will not play.

One of the new wrinkles Kill will employ is the use of a fullback. Something of an oddity in football today, it will hopefully help running back Robert Martin find some daylight.

Tariq Cole is a massive left tackle who can keep edge rushers at bay. Aside from him, the line is shaky at best.

On the defensive side of the ball, Rutgers should show mild improvement. Sebastian Joseph and Kemoko Turay are talented defensive linemen. Safety Saquan Hampton, who battled injuries last year, is healthy and ready to go.

Rutgers allowed 37.5 points per game last year which was good for 116 in the country.

Saquan Barkley will be licking his chops once again this year, as the Rutgers defense allowed 5.7 yards per rush in 2016.

Rutgers returns 8 defensive starters who should improve with some more experience.

Chris Ash does not have a job that many coaches would envy at this juncture. Recruiting will be paramount to his success, and to be successful in that arena, you need to show kids that you can win.

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While improved, don’t expect Rutgers to fare any better in the Big Ten this season.