Last year, fans will remember the icy cold game in Newark in which Penn State defeated Rutgers in a stunning 39-0 victory. By the end of the game, it was sleeting, and only Penn State fans remained in the stadium to cheer their team on to a win.
Rutgers is struggling again this year, going 4-5 and 3-3 thus far. Rutgers was trounced 56-0 by Ohio State at the end of September, and barely came away with a win against Purdue (14-12). Most recently, Rutgers lost to Michigan 35-14, but shocked many when the team defeated Maryland 31-24 at home.
“It’s great to be back for homecoming. It’s great to be hosting military appreciation,” said Coach Franklin about this weekend. “To me there’s things that you try to do as a program, and number one is you want to create culture that allows you to build and grow over time…I think we’ve done that.”
Fans can expect to see Saquon Barkley (Coplay, Pa.) getting the ball more this week, while defense steps up to quickly attack Rutgers’ quarterback. Of course, fans can also expect to see some fantastic plays from Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley (Ashburn, Va.), tight end Mike Gesicki (Manahawkin, N.J.) and wide receiver DeAndre Thompkins (Hubert, N.C.).
Speaking on the meaning of homecoming, Thompkins commented that there is “no environment like
Thompkins also noted that despite being fresh off of two losses, the team is approaching this game just like every other week, and continuing to practice hard and then execute well on gameday.
“Even before the season started I knew our team was going to be great. We were going to do great things,” said Thompkins. “It’s not something you figure out in the middle season. It’s something you declare before the season starts…I knew going into the season we had a team that could go really far and do big things.”
The team has barely commented on the past losses because they are so focused on moving forward, a message that Coach Franklin regularly reminds his staff and players of.
In fact, McSorley just became Penn State’s leader in career passing touchdowns and he also became the fourth PSU quarterback to surpass 6,000 passing yards for a career. McSorley also leads the Big Ten in passing yards at 2,452.
Despite a rocky season, Rutgers will no doubt bring the heat this weekend. The Scarlet Knights need to win at least one more game to qualify for bowl eligibility. Although they may not seem formidable, fans should not underestimate just how badly Rutgers wants to win this game. Penn State will need to come out firing on all cylinders.
Of course, half the fun of homecoming weekend is the tailgating, and it looks like it will be perfect fall weather for fans to enjoy grilling and chilling before the game.
Will we see you this weekend in Happy Valley, Penn State fans? Set your alarms early for tailgating before joining us in Beaver Stadium for a noon kickoff this Saturday!