Auburn Tigers @ Penn St. Nittany Lions (-5, 52)
September 18, 2021
7:30pm EST on ABC
The Penn State Nittany Lions, ranked #10 in the country with a 2-0 record, host the 22nd ranked Auburn Tigers at 7:30 PM Eastern Time on September 18. With Ohio State already having a loss, Penn State could put themselves into early season national playoff discussion with a win.
The Nittany Lions have shown signs of excellence on both sides of the ball. This is a game in which they will be tested both offensively and defensively for the first time in their three games. Should James Franklin’s team stay focused and take down Auburn, it will conclude non-conference play against Villanova before getting into the meat of the conference schedule.
For the Tigers, while they probably won’t be mentioned with Georgia and Alabama in the SEC, they could get into the upper echelon in the conference with a win. It’s hard to judge how good the Tigers are after wins over substandard teams in Akron and Alabama State. A win against top opponent in a hostile environment could vault Auburn to bigger and better things for the rest of the season.
Several players have come to the forefront for the Nittany Lions in the early going this season. The main focus will be on quarterback Sean Clifford. While he’s been efficiently spreading the wealth, the Penn State offensive line should receive accolades for their excellent pass protection and ability to create gaping holes for the running backs Keyvone Lee and Noah Cain. On the defensive side of the ball, the key will be how well the Penn State defensive backs contain an Auburn passing game that has averaged over 10 yards per attempt.
When the Tigers have the ball, watch for quarterback Bo Nix, who has had some big wins since his freshman season in 2019, including one against Oregon and number 5 Alabama. On the flip side, he’s just 5-7 on the road and looked mediocre at best in the first half against a relatively weak Alabama State team. Pressuring Nix into mistakes will be the key for Penn State.
On the ground, running back Tank Bigsby has a great combination of power between the tackles and speed around the end. Penn State needs to make sure that Auburn wide receiver Demetrius Robinson doesn’t beat them deep or catch them off guard with a sweep around the end.
On the defensive side of the ball, Auburn’s strength is in the secondary and linebacker. Nose tackle Tony Fair is one to watch as a possible clog in the middle, freeing up the likes of Zackoby McClain to contain a tough Penn State running game.
Expect a white out at Penn State with this ABC nationally televised game. The Nittany Lions are a 5-point favorite with an over/under of 53.