PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) — Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley will be chasing another school record and the No. 16 Nittany Lions can put themselves in position for a New Year's Day bowl when they visit Rutgers for the Scarlet Knights' final home game of an awful season.
McSorley will become the winningest quarterback in Penn State history if the Nittany Lions (7-3, 4-3 Big Ten, No. 14 CFP) send Rutgers (1-9, 0-7) to its 10th straight loss on Saturday.
The win would be McSorley's 30th as a starter, moving the senior ahead of Todd Blackledge (1980-82) and Tony Sacca (1988-91).
"He works hard, he is dedicated and he is a true competitor," former Penn State and current New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley said of McSorley. "He has been counted out his whole life, saying he can't do this, he can't do that. He has just been proving people wrong day after day. I am pretty sure they are going to win this week and I'm happy he will be able to attain that record and it's not deserving to anyone else."
McSorley hold Penn State's career records for passing yards, passing touchdowns, total offense and rushing touchdowns by a quarterback. His next touchdown pass or run will be his 100th. He is 118 yards shy of the Penn State career quarterback rushing record of 1,637 yards held by Michael Robinson (2002-05).
Rutgers coach Chris Ash said it's not fun preparing to face McSorley, who has run for 759 yards and nine touchdowns and thrown for 1,871 yards with 13 TDs and five interceptions.
"He can beat you with his feet and beat you with his arm," Ash said. "Just spent the last five, six hours watching film of him, and he's a competitor. I don't know if it's necessarily anything that a defense is doing to slow him down, because he's still got a lot of production. He's still very dangerous. It's a different team than they had last year. The pieces around him are different, but he's still a great player. He's fun to watch."
Penn State moved up to No. 14 in the CFP this week after beating Wisconsin and it might get a New Year's Six game for a third straight season by beating Rutgers and Maryland to close out the season.
It's been an up-and-down season for Penn State. It won its first four games and is 3-3 in the last six, losing to No. 4 Michigan, No. 8 Ohio State and Michigan State.
"So I think we're back on that track right now," coach James Franklin said. "I think last week was an example of that. And we need to do that again this week."
Things to watch when the Nittany Lions and Scarlet Knights meet at HighPoint.com Stadium.
Penn State leads the Big Ten in both sacks (3.4) and tackles for loss (7.4) per game, ranking sixth and 19th nationally, respectively. Defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos has at least half a sack in five straight games. Rutgers has allowed 1.20 sacks per game to rank second in the league and 17th nationally.
Rutgers will honor seniors DB Blessuan Austin, DL Jon Bateky, OL Tariq Cole, DB Saquan Hampton, OL Zack Heeman, DB Kiy Hester, RB Jonathan Hilliman, P Nick Johnston, LB Trevor Morris, QB Rob Nittolo, QB Giovanni Rescigno, LB Deonte Roberts, DL Muhammad Wainwright, TE Jerome Washington, DB Isaiah Wharton and DL Kevin Wilkins before the game.
Halfback Isiah Pacheco had a career-high 142 yards rushing, including an 80-yard TD run, against No. 4 Michigan last weekend. It was the third highest by a Scarlet Knight against a ranked opponent and the 80-yard TD run was the longest by a freshman in school history. He also had 213 all-purpose yards.
Penn State has won 11 straight against Rutgers and 26 of 28 in the series. The Nittany Lions won 35-6 last season. The Scarlet Knights last win was in 1988.
NITTANY LIONS RUNNING
Miles Sanders is one of 18 players in FBS to surpass 1,000 yards rushing this season. He hit the milestone last week when he gained 159 yards in the win over Wisconsin. He has carried 166 times for 1,007 yards and nine touchdowns this season. He is the 26th Penn State players to rush for 1,000 yards.
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