Game Prediction: #22 Auburn at #10 Penn State

Irish Breakdown makes predictions for the matchup between Auburn and Penn State
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The SEC and Big Ten have a big showdown on Saturday night in what could be the best game of the weekend. The winner will get bragging rights between what is arguably the two best conferences in college football.

Auburn (2-0) jumped into the Top 25 after absolutely destroying Akron (60-10) and Alabama State (62-0). No, neither opponent was any good, but Auburn scoring 60 points on anyone is a clear sign of improvement when you consider what the offense looked like last season.

Penn State (2-0) has one of the biggest wins of the season so far, which it earned in week one when it went on the road and beat Wisconsin. The Nittany Lions pounded Ball State in week two and is looking to give its conference a reason to puff out its chest.


Prediction: Penn State 27, Auburn 24

Auburn's offense has feasted on inferior opponents in the first two games, and at least in the opener we saw quarterback Bo Nix show off an improved game. He wasn't as sharp in game two, but he's clearly more comfortable in the Bryan Harsin/Mike Bobo offense, which is more pro-style than the spread offense he was in his first two seasons.

Tank Bigsby and Jarquez Hunter have combined for 498 yards in just two games, and they will certainly put what has been a salty Penn State defense thus far to the test. This matchup is the one I'm most looking forward to this weekend. Penn State has one of the fastest defenses in the Big Ten, if not the fastest defense, and it matches up well on paper against the Tigers.

On offense, Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford has been solid and Jahan Dotson combines with Parker Washington to give the Nittany Lions a more potent pass attack this season. The key in this game will be if Penn State's veteran offensive line can establish the ground game. Penn State can't beat Auburn if it's one dimensional.

I think the Nittany Lions do enough on the ground to free Dotson for enough big shots to get the offense rolling, and the Penn State defense makes enough stops to give the Big Ten a big win over the SEC.


Prediction: Penn State 20, Auburn 17

I think this could be the game of the week. I think it will be closer than the Alabama Florida matchup and frankly has more riding on it in the Big Ten. Penn State is favored by 6 in this one and, of course, they get 3 just for being at home. Even Vegas thinks this one is going to be close. Both defenses are solid so what can we expect from the offenses? I think this is going to be a low scoring affair. Neither team is going to blow anyone away with their offense. I think State wins late with maybe a field goal for the go ahead score and it will all be due to the home crowd.


Prediction: Penn State 23, Auburn 20

I really like the speed of the Nittany Lions defense. Especially, in the secondary. It’s another “White Out” in Happy Valley, and Sean Clifford needs to be more opportunistic when big play opportunities present themselves. Auburn is going to try to play bully ball and take Penn State’s heart and crowd early, but the fronts are formidable for the home team, and they should be the key to a victory.


Prediction: Auburn 24, Penn State 17

The Bo Nix improvements have been substantial so far, although against lesser competition. I'm leaning more towards a bit of fools gold. The running game, however, is legit. With Tank Bigsby and Co, along with a veteran offensive line, Auburn has a chance to wear down a solid defensive group. Sean Clifford and the Nittany Lion offense isn't quite enough. 


Prediction: Auburn 40, Penn State 23

I love how Auburn has come out and taken care of business in the first two games, regardless of the opponent. The Tigers won’t be intimidated by a silly gimmick like the White Out. Look for Bo Nix to carve up the Penn State secondary en route to a sound Auburn win. War Eagle.


Prediction: Penn State 27, Auburn 21

Penn State owns one of the best wins of the season to this point, knocking off then #12 Wisconsin in Camp Randall Stadium. In that win, the QB Sean Clifford and the Nittany Lion offense displayed big play capability against a stout Wisconsin defense, but more importantly, did not turn the ball over. In 2020, Penn State lost 17 turnovers, leading to a -8 turnover margin, but this season, PSU does not have a single turnover while forcing 5 on defense.

On the other sideline, Auburn has made its living running the football, averaging 340 yards/game while destroying Akron and FCS Alabama State. The Nittany Lion defense playing in front of the first “White Out” crowd since 2019 is an entirely different animal, and the Penn State defense will follow the same script they used to shut down Wisconsin – stack the box to stop the run and force an inconsistent quarterback to win the game with his arm. It worked against Wisconsin, and it will work against Auburn, as QB Bo Nix will not be able to make enough plays to lead the Tigers to victory in their first road game against a Big Ten opponent in nine decades. 

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