After 11 games, the regular season finale is already upon us. Penn State had a huge opportunity in front of it, but stumbled twice in the last three weeks at Minnesota and Ohio State. Still, the Nittany Lions enter this week with a chance to finish the regular season at 10-2 -- a fantastic accomplishment for a team led mainly by underclassmen.
This week's game against lowly Rutgers really isn't expected to be much of a contest. The Nittany Lions began the week as favorites by more than 40 points. Despite the fact that Penn State should be able to run away with this one, there are still players who will need to step up in order to ensure a victory.
Although Penn State fans won't want to hear it, this week could represent the last game at Beaver Stadium for Pat Freiermuth. The superstar tight end is eligible for the 2020 NFL Draft, and would likely be the first tight end off of the board.
If this is the last home game for Freiermuth, he'll definitely be one to watch for the Nittany Lions. He's second on the team this year in receptions (40), receiving yards (464), and receiving touchdowns (7).
Freiermuth is coming off a six-catch performance at Ohio State last week, and is easily the most consistent weapon in the Penn State passing attack. He's a matchup nightmare for almost any defender in the middle of the field and should be able to take advantage of the porous Rutgers pass defense.
When starting quarterback Sean Clifford was knocked out of the Ohio State game in the second half, Will Levis stepped in for his first real action with the Nittany Lions. He came in and played a strong game, nearly leading Penn State back from a 21-point deficit.
Levis didn't put up huge numbers, completing just 6-of-11 passes for 57 yards and a costly interception. However, his energy provided a spark for the offense, and he rushed for 34 yards and a touchdown.
With Clifford's status still up in the air for this week due to his injury, and the fact that Penn State should be up big in this one, Levis could see some added opportunities this week. Head coach James Franklin should get an opportunity to play a lot of different guys this week, so expect him to take a long look at Levis.
Lamont Wade is coming off easily the best performance of his Penn State career. He made plays all over the field last week at Ohio State and finished with 10 total tackles and a sack. He also forced three fumbles and recovered one.
Wade has been inconsistent throughout his time in Happy Valley, but last week's performance could be looked at as a breakout performance. Fortunately for the Nittany Lions, he saved it for the toughest offense they faced all year.
Wade won't have nearly as tough of a task this week trying to defend the Rutgers passing attack. Still, keep an eye on him to see if he can keep the momentum rolling this week.