Penn State rarely hosts teams from the SEC. The last to visit Beaver Stadium was Alabama in 2011, and before that it was Alabama in 1989.
So it's fitting that No. 10 Penn State also should host ESPN College GameDay and its annual Whiteout for Auburn's visit to Beaver Stadium on Sept. 18. The No. 22 Tigers are making an equally rare trip to this part of the country; this is the farthest North Auburn has traveled since playing at Syracuse in 2001 (the Tigers visited West Virginia in 2008).
Both teams are unbeaten, with Auburn rolling into State College having defeated its first two opponents by a combined score of 122-10. And according to ESPN's College Football Power Index, this is a top-10 game: Penn State is No. 8, and Auburn is No. 10.
Here's the first look at Saturday's Penn State-Auburn game.
No. 10 Penn State (2-0) vs. No. 22 Auburn (2-0)
- When: 7:30 pm ET Saturday
- Where: Beaver Stadium
- TV: ABC
- Streaming: fuboTV
- Betting Line: Penn State is a 6-point favorite, per SISportsbook
- Series History: 1-1
- Last Meeting: Auburn 13-9 in the 2003 Capital One Bowl
- Streaks: Penn State has won six straight games and 17 consecutive non-conference home games
About the Nittany Lions: Penn State unspooled a bunch of different offensive formations and packages in its 44-13 victory over Ball State, and running back Noah Cain said to expect plenty more. The Lions were balanced (rushing for 240 of their 493 total yards), moved the chains efficiently (32 first downs, tied for the second-highest under coach James Franklin) and completed passes to 10 different receivers. That offensive control (Penn State held the ball for 34 minutes) allowed the defense to rest some key starters after its 95-play day in Wisconsin. End Arnold Ebiketie, safety Jaquan Brisker, and tackle PJ Mustipher all went under their pitch counts, which Franklin called important with Auburn's impending visit. And here's the crucial stat through two games: Penn State is tied for second in the Big Ten in turnover margin at +5 (Rutgers is an otherwordly +8). Last year the Lions were -1 through two games. "You win a lot of games when you don't turn the ball over," quarterback Sean Clifford said. "I learned that last year." But Penn State's red-zone offense could be more assertive (three TDs in seven trips). Jordan Stout leads the Big Ten, and ranks second nationally, in punting average (53.10) and has booted two punts longer than 60 yards. Safety Tyler Rudolph will miss the first half after being called for targeting against Ball State. Six true freshmen have played, with linebackers Jamari Buddin and Kobe King, safety Jaylen Reed and receiver Harrison Wallace III making their debuts vs. Ball State.
About the Tigers: What to make of Auburn's 2-0 start and its FBS-leading 56-point average margin of victory? Yes, the Tigers have beaten Akron (60-0) and Alabama State (62-10). But Akron is 1-19 since 2019, and Alabama State is an FCS program that hasn't had a winning season since 2015. Inside its latest box score, however, were a few red flags. Auburn's first two drives against Alabama State ended with field goals, the team fumbled late in the second quarter and it committed seven first-half penalties. A 35-point third quarter, in which Demetris Robertson scored twice and Jarquez Hunter had a 94-yard touchdown run, officially unsealed the blowout. Quarterback Bo Nix essentially is an SEC copy/paste version of Clifford. They're third-year starters with similar body types (Clifford is 6-2, 219; Nix is 6-3, 214), career completion rates (Clifford 60.3%, Nix 59.5%) and career rushing numbers (Clifford has 237 carries for 805 yards, Nix 210 carries for 731 yards). Like Clifford, Nix hasn't thrown an interception yet this season. But he also hasn't faced a secondary remotely close to Penn State's. Further, Nix is 3-8 against ranked opponents and 1-5 in true road games vs. ranked teams.