The whiteout is back this weekend as Penn State hosts Auburn in a Top 25 showdown Saturday night in Happy Valley. Fans returned to Beaver Stadium last week, but this is the game everyone in blue and white has been waiting for.
Both the Nittany Lions and Tigers are entering the game with 2-0 records, although they have each arrived at that record in a contrasting fashion. Auburn has blown away their weaker opponents while Penn State has scored a Top 25 win on the road and jumped on the defending MAC champions in the home opener. This game should offer a better look at what these two teams are all about.
Of course, a storyline that has taken some of the focus from the game this week has been the ongoing rumor mill turning with James Franklin's name attached to USC coaching search headlines. Will that pose as a distraction for Franklin and Penn State? Or will the Nittany Lions manage to shove it aside and relish in the moment in front of a frenzied crowd of over 107,000?
No. 22 Auburn at No. 10 Penn State
Kickoff: Saturday, Sept. 18 at 7:30 p.m. ET
Spread: Penn State -5.5
When Auburn Has the Ball
This will be the first major test for the Auburn offense. After steamrolling Akron and FCS Alabama State the past two weeks and racking up 122 points in the process, now we get to see how effective quarterback Bo Nix is on the road in an intense atmosphere. We'll see if running back Tank Bigsby can pound out the yards on the ground that can wear down the Penn State defense. We'll see just how lethal this Auburn offense is or if the past two weeks were more false hope.
Nix has been locked in at the start of the season, and he has had little trouble making plays through the air. But he will be facing a significantly better secondary this week with Jaquan Brisker, among the nation's top safeties, leading the way. Penn State's defense has also stepped up in a big way inside the red zone, so Auburn may not be able to afford leaving points on the field.
When Penn State Has the Ball
After getting off to a painfully slow start in Week 1, Penn State's offense wasted no time putting together a more encouraging offensive start in Week 2. Granted, Penn State wasn't going up against Wisconsin in Week 2, but it was a glimmer of hope at the very least as Sean Clifford and the Nittany Lions strung together two 75-plus-yard touchdown drives to start the game.
Expect Penn State to try getting more of Noah Cain and the ground game running early on, but do not expect Auburn to give up yards on the ground too easily. This is another solid defensive line Penn State will be facing. But Penn State will also take some deep shots to Jahan Dotson a few times. If they connect on one, watch out.
Auburn's defense hasn't given up much so far this season, and the Tigers should be capable of slowing Penn State down at times.
Fans have been waiting for this one for a while, and it should live up to the hype. Neither team looks like it will be able to blow out the other, so we should have a good game well into the fourth quarter. If Penn State can connect on a few big plays early on and jump out to a lead on the Tigers, that will tilt the game in its favor. Getting Nix to make a few mistakes could be the difference.
Prediction: Penn State 26, Auburn 23
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