However, if there's a bit of good news, it's that a get-better game is coming up against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, an opportunity to get back in the national spotlight and revive Saquon Barkley's Heisman Trophy campaign.
Rutgers Scarlet Knights vs. Penn State Nittany Lions
Date and Time: Saturday, November 11, 2017, 12 p.m. ET
Location: Beaver Stadium, University Park, PA
Opening College Football Odds: Penn State -31.5
Rutgers vs. Penn State TV Coverage: Big Ten Network
This is going to be a big test for James Franklin and his Nittany Lions. Franklin is one of the more respected coaches in America, and he's been linked to several potentially high-profile jobs this year should he want to leave Penn State. That said, he's 0-for-10 on the road against ranked teams in his career, and he's got a potential mini-crisis on his hands after losing two straight games in the fourth quarter.
But perhaps the most telling sign of trouble came after the Spartans finished off a 27-24 victory. Franklin had to go running down the sidelines to go snare a couple of his players and make them go shake hands at the end of the loss to Michigan State. It was an emotional day for sure after a three and a half hour lightning delay that extended this game to nearly seven hours from start to finish.
Will the Nittany Lions respond to their coach? If they do, they could absolutely run the table from here and get into the New Year's Six. If they don't, they could be in a heap of trouble the rest of the way.
Chris Ash isn't going to get any national recognition for the job he's doing at Rutgers this year, but he should. The Scarlet Knights are perennial doormats in this conference, yet they're 3-3 now in conference play and look downright respectable. Are they going to win another game this year? Probably not with duels against Penn State, Indiana and Michigan State left to play. But just the fact that this team has avoided most of the horrendous blowouts that have become a part of annual life in Piscataway is a step in the right direction.
What we love most about Rutgers is the fact that it has literally managed virtually nothing in terms of big plays this year yet is still finding a way to win. Kyle Bolin and Giovanni Rescigno have been disasters at quarterback, while Gus Edwards has been a one-man band in this backfield for far too long. The Scarlet Knights have had just two plays all season cover more than 41 yards.
Even though Barkley is still going to be the favorite to win the Heisman Trophy this week, we're not really all that sure why. He hasn't turned up big in the biggest games of the year, and though he has scored touchdowns this year as a rusher, receiver, kick returner and quarterback, we still don't see his overall body of working as being all that impressive.
Barkley didn't score a touchdown last week against Michigan State, and he only touched the ball a total of 18 times (if you include his 20-yard pass completion).
When Penn State was at its best earlier this season, Barkley was a monster who had his hands on the rock 25-30 times every game. Simply put, Trace McSorley can't throw the ball 47 times in a game if the Nittany Lions expect to win.
Rutgers vs. Penn State Free Picks
Give us the points for sure. The Scarlet Knights are playing with some confidence right now, and we can't say the same for Penn State. Though the Nittany Lions could have just as easily won both of these games as they ended up losing them, at some point, ultimately losing wears on you, and that might result in a sluggish game on Saturday against what should be an easy foe to down.
These aren't your dad's Scarlet Knights anymore, and we don't think the top online sportsbooks are giving them enough credit.
College Football ATS Pick: Rutgers +31.5 at BookMaker.eu
College Football Score Prediction: Penn State 31, Rutgers 14