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Penn State vs. Auburn Prediction: Nittany Lions Look to Sweep Home-and-Home Series with Tigers

Penn State heads to Auburn for first road game vs SEC team since 2010.

A year ago saw Penn State hold on to defeat Auburn in one of the top non-conference games of the college football season. This year is Round 2 down on the Plains when the Nittany Lions make their first trip into SEC territory since visiting Alabama in 2010. Both teams come into the game looking to make a statement as Penn State has work to do with the offensive line and the host Tigers hope to show some offensive consistency against a viable opponent.

Related: College Football Predictions for Every Game in Week 3

We should have an electric atmosphere on our hands for this year's game, the second in the home-and-home scheduling agreement between the Big Ten and SEC schools. Auburn fans will be decked out in orange, and Jordan-Hare Stadium could serve up some late-game drama in what should be a competitive game from start to finish.

No. 22 Penn State at Auburn

Kickoff: Saturday, Sept. 17 at 3:30 p.m. ET
TV: CBS
Live Stream: fuboTV (Start your free trial)
Spread: Penn State -3
Tickets: As low as $121 on SITickets.com*

When Penn State Has the Ball

Sean Clifford is the most important player on Penn State's roster, and the team's success will heavily rely on what he does in leading the offense. But last week saw the arrival of one of the top players for the future, freshman running back Nick Singleton. Singleton ended the Nittany Lions' drought of games with a 100-yard rusher in a big way (179 in last Saturday's 46-10 rout of Ohio), and he should be getting more opportunities against Auburn to turn a corner and pick up some chunks of yards.

Penn State's offensive line is still looking to show some solid improvement. Through two games, this group has given up a big play to the opposing defense just when you think things are improving. Clifford and Singleton may have a tough time establishing much rhythm against Derick Hall and the Auburn defense.

When Auburn Has the Ball

The Tigers have a few more questions on offense compared to Penn State, and that may not be a good spot for them to be in. TJ Finley has thrown three more interceptions than touchdowns this season, and he will be going up against a solid defensive secondary led by cornerback Joey Porter Jr. If Finley can't lead the Tigers to many scoring opportunities, Robby Ashford could get a chance to provide a spark for the Tigers on offense.

Running back Tank Bigsby should be a featured player just as he was last year in this game when he ran for 102 yards and two touchdowns. He should get his work in this week. It's a small sample size, but Penn State has surrendered 161 total rushing yards and three touchdowns on the ground in its first two games.

Final Analysis

Penn State comes into this week's non-conference battle in better shape than Auburn, at least on paper and when it comes to the eye test (two-game sample size notwithstanding). The Nittany Lions have an advantage at quarterback and feature multiple wide receivers to spread the ball around. They also are battle-tested on the road after their season-opening win at Purdue. Meanwhile, the Tigers have yet to really be tested. Playing at home should help, but Penn State has a few more players capable of making some big plays happen through the air.

Prediction: Penn State 27, Auburn 23

Podcast: Week 3 Predictions and Preview + Betting Tips and Picks Against the Spread

— Written by Kevin McGuire, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @KevinOnCFB, on Instagram, on TikTok, and Like him on Facebook.

*Price as of publication.