James Franklin’s program took a step forward last Saturday with a convincing win over Wisconsin at Beaver Stadium. The expectation is that the Lions will close out their regular season with two easy wins, beginning with Saturday’s game vs. Rutgers in New Jersey. It should be an easy 60 minutes, but will it be? Here are a few keys for Penn State …
1. Lean on Sanders. Miles Sanders produced 159 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries against Wisconsin and the Rutgers’ run defense is suspect. Another 20-carry day should lead to another 100-yard game for Penn State’s feature back.
2. Don’t forget about KJ. Hamler, the Lions’ dangerous receiver, was involved early against Wisconsin. He finished with five catches for 35 yards and was given a rush attempt. The Lions need to get Hamler 6-8 touches against Rutgers so there will be no more games like Michigan (one catch, 20 yards).
3. Force Rutgers quarterback Artur Sitkowski into mistakes. Sitkowski has thrown 16 interceptions and only four touchdowns. The Michigan defense held the quarterback to 40 passing yards on 19 attempts last week.
4. Don’t let Isaih Pacheco get loose. Rutgers has a dual-threat in running back Raheem Blackshear, who leads the Scarlet Knights in rushing and receiving. But it was another running back, Pacheco, who caused the Wolverines’ defense problems. He carried 16 times for 142 yards and scored on an 80-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.