Matchup: Auburn Tigers (2-0) @ Penn State Nittany Lions (1-0)
Where: Beaver Stadium
When: Saturday, September 18th @ 7:30pm EST
It’s WHITEOUT WEEK! The most exciting atmosphere in college football is back this week for the first time since 2019 as the No. 22 Auburn Tigers come to State College. It’s still rather early in the season but Penn State is now onto its second opponent that is ranked in the top 25. This huge day will start with College Gameday in the morning leading up to a primetime matchup on national TV! It’s only a few days way now so lets get right to the For the Glory team’s predictions
Brandon Musso (1-1)
Luckily, the Nittany Lions didn’t allow last week’s game to become a let down game and handily dealt Ball State a loss in Beaver Stadium. If last week was a break for them, then they better be ready for yet another tough matchup this week. The No. 22 Auburn Tigers roll into town for a huge matchup that will be the first White Out since 2019. The implications on this game are huge and there are plenty of distractions. The annual White Out always brings quite a bit of attention to State College, including ESPN’s College Gameday that will kick of the day in the morning. The festivities will roll on throughout the day while fans hope the players can block out the distractions and concentrate on another season defining game.
If it’s the White Out then you know a tough opponent is coming to town. Auburn is nationally ranked and on paper, a good team that will provide a tough challenge for Penn State. Through two games though, it’s tough to fully assess the Tigers because they have only played two non-Power 5 teams. Both games were dominate blowouts against inferior teams. This game will provide a full assessment of both teams.
As I said before, it’s really tough to get full assessment of this Auburn team but their first two games have provided some numbers to work from. On defense, they have been stout against the run, averaging just 21.5 rushing yard allowed per game. If Penn State wants to win this game, they need to win upfront and use the rushing attack to get the offense in a rhythm. As far as the Auburn offense, they seem to place an emphasis on their own rushing game. The Penn State secondary has been solid so I’m more worried about the defensive line stopping that rushing game. A win will mean Penn State needs to limit the yards per carry. 4-5 YPC allowed will not get the job done and might see the Tigers slowly run down Penn State as the game goes on.
Despite the small sample size, I think Auburn is a good team and I think Penn State will ultimately drop a close one.
Penn State 28
Kraigen Rasalla (1-1)
This week, I have two predictions. One, I KNOW will come true. The other, I am fairly confident will come true.
The first one is that this weekend’s whiteout against Auburn will be the craziest crowd in Beaver Stadium history. I was at the first ever “White House” against Notre Dame in ‘07 and the double OT loss to Ohio State in ‘14 and those were insane crowds. I wasn’t at the ‘05 white out against Ohio State, nor the ‘17 and ‘19 white out games against Michigan. But, I’m willing to bet with this being the first whiteout since that 2019 Michigan game and a ranked SEC opponent coming in, this crowd will be absolutely bananas. Book it.
On to the game. Penn State took care of business last week and avoided any trap game conversations. The offense, led by QB Sean Clifford, attacked the Cardinals on the edges and allowed Parker Washington and Jahan Dotson go to work. I expect new OC Mike Yurcich to show this edge attack with screens and rollouts. Then, use those plays to set up deep balls like we saw in the Wisconsin game.
Something I haven’t been able to say in a few years is that I trust Sean Clifford in this game more than I trust Auburn QB Bo Nix. Nix is off to a strong start this year, completing 74 percent of his passes and leading the Tigers to a 2-0 record. However, in his career, Nix is dreadful on the road. He has a completion percentage of 54.5 percent away from Jordan-Hare Stadium, 10 points lower than at Jordan-Hare. His TD:INT ratio is 20:1 at home and 9:10 on the road. Not great! If you are Auburn at least. Yes, the Tigers will count on Tank Bigsby (10 yards per rush in 2021) and Jarquez Hunter (15.1 yards per rush in 2021) to carry the load on the ground. But, if you want to win a big game, you need your QB to make a big play. Based on the numbers, you can’t count on Bo Nix to make the big throw on the road.
Penn State wins, gets their revenge for the 2003 Capital One Bowl, and real chatter begins around the country surrounding them and the College Football Playoff.
Penn State 27
Cory Lestochi (1-1)
This game has been incredibly difficult to predict for me. The Auburn Tigers come in to Happy Valley for the annual White Out untested with blowout wins over Akron and Alabama State.
They are led by QB Bo Nix, whose father was the quarterback the only time Penn State beat Auburn (series is tied 1-1). Nix is now in his third season as a starting quarterback and he has yet to fully blossom. The biggest knock on him has been his play on the road where his numbers are drastically worse than when he plays in Jordan-Hare. RB Tank Bigsby is a guy that is gonna cause some problems and they also have a true freshman RB that is quick.
Defensively, they are athletic and full of talented players. They also possess experience at the linebacker position.
In a neutral site game, I think this game is a toss-up mostly because there is a lot we don’t know about these teams. Penn State is favored. Penn State has the more impressive resume. Penn State is more battle tested. Penn State is at home, and boast a White Out crowd that is itching to be back in that environment. Most people are predicting a 4-7 point win for Penn State and while my head agrees with them, my heart tells me there is a chance for this thing to snowball into a blowout. I think Auburn’s defense is good enough to prevent that, but I think Auburn’s offense that started slow against Alabama State will be slow again on Saturday. Then, a mistaken-ridden Nix will leave his defense out to dry too many times. I’m going homer pick big time.
Penn State 34