Rutgers is bad. Tremendously bad. But not all bad.
Their offense ranks dead last (130th) in the nation in points per game, 124th in completion percentage, 108th in rushing yards per game, and 121st in passing yards per game. Not too hot.
Rutgers’ defense is 105th in the nation in points given up per game and their subcategory breakdowns are not much better. When Penn State plays them on Saturday, it’s going to be a blowout and there’s really no two ways about it. But as I was combing through their stats for this year in preparation for the game, I did find something interesting about Rutgers.
They are actually one of the better teams in the nation when it comes to protecting their quarterback. The Scarlet Knights are ranked 21st in sack rate, a measure of what percentage of pass plays end in their quarterback getting taken down. Rutgers’ QB Arthur Sitkowski gets knocked down on just 3.6% of plays. Compare this to Penn State and Trace McSorley who gets sacked on 7.8% of plays, or twice as often as Sitkowski.
This should hopefully make for an interesting battle Saturday as Penn State’s defensive line is one of the better groups at getting to the quarterback. The Nittany Lion’s defensive line sack rate is 8% which is 26th best in the nation.
This stat doesn’t mean that Rutgers is going to miraculously find a way to beat Penn State behind their strong quarterback protection. That won’t be happening. But it does mean there is something interesting to watch for Saturday in the trenches. Can Penn State’s defensive line get past Rutgers’ front five and have a good game pressuring the quarterback?
It won’t be integral to winning the game, but it will be a good test for the Lions’ pass rush and it could be one of the few takeaways of a game that should otherwise be won by 27+ points.