Penn State's opponents have become increasingly more challenging, and with chaos in the Big Ten, there are more contenders for the conference title game than originally thought, so teams are playing even harder.
At one point, the Nittany Lions were up 28-10, but Barkley was running for two yards here and four yards there.
Winter arrived a few weeks early in Piscataway, as several inches of snow covered the High Point Solutions Stadium turf by the time the second half settled in. Penn State has hit the over in eight of its last nine games in November and in six of its last seven games following a loss. On paper, they're all winnable games that Penn State will be favored in starting with this weekend's tilt with the Scarlet Knights.
Penn State: Three games ago, Penn State was sitting at No. 2 and had a clear path to the playoff with a bona fide Heisman Trophy front-runner in Barkley leading the offense.
Penn State made its most inert start of the season, failing to field the opening kickoff, missing tackles and not scoring in the first quarter for the first time all year. Penn State still has an offense to fear, but its defense has looked quite lackluster in recent weeks. Last year, Penn State won big, 39-0.
If you are looking for a sign that Rutgers is growing exhausted of simply showing improvement against the Big Ten's elite teams, consider the words of one of its co-captains after the latest game on a broken record. Though both losses came on the road and by a total of four points, they still count as losses that will end numerous teams' preseason dreams. Though Barkley has rushed for just 107 yards in the past two losses, he's the best player on the field and can break a long run at any moment. His two highlights were a 97-yard kick return to open the game and then a 36-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.
The McSorley-to-Gesicki touchdown in the fourth quarter was the ninth and final play of a 62-yard drive. He also has 305 rushing yards with eight touchdowns.
Receiver Juwan Johnson played his most physical game in terms of yards after catch, with three receptions of 17 yards or longer.
Rutgers (4-6, 3-5) has its most realistic chance of finishing at.500 - and earning bowl eligibility - since an 8-5 finish in 2014. When it comes to offense, Rutgers is averaging 22.6 points and 294.4 yards per game. McSorley finished with 214 yards passing and two touchdowns. "Obviously I'm aware of what teams are going to try and do and teams are going to try to take away our run game and take away our backs". But Rutgers will likely rely on the rushing attack.
The Scarlet Knights scored again on their third possession, aided by Gus Edwards' 18-yard run.
WHAT WE LEARNED: Coach James Franklin was right about his team having a hangover last week.