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Staff Predictions: No. 20 Penn State vs. Wisconsin

No. 20 Penn State football will, once again, try to bounce back from a tough loss when the Nittany Lions host Wisconsin at Beaver Stadium this weekend.

Paul Chryst’s program entered this season with College Football Playoff-sized expectations, but has underwhelmed in a big way. Our staff is confident that Penn State can get back on track against the Badgers in a chilly noon kickoff.

Andy Mollenauer (0-2): Penn State 34, Wisconsin 31

We’ve seen a widely hyped-up Wisconsin team slip quickly from a top five ranking to being unranked entirely. The Nittany Lions are trending in the same direction, but remain ranked heading into a game with home field advantage. Penn State’s Big Ten performances at home have left something to be desired this year, but I think the team will bounce back Saturday in a tight game that comes down to the last drive.

Matthew Fox (7-2): Penn State 27, Wisconsin 20

The two teams set to take the field on Saturday began the season ranked in the top 10 of the AP poll. Obviously, things have not gone according to plan for either team since. This game will most likely come down to how healthy Trace McSorley is. If No. 9 can do his thing, I think Penn State can pull this one out.

Will Pegler (3-3): Penn State 17, Wisconsin 12

Nothing about this game seems particularly appealing. A noon kickoff with freezing cold weather and two teams trying to stay somewhat relevant in the Big Ten picture is what we’ll have on Saturday. The Nittany Lions desperately need a bounce back win after an ugly loss to Michigan last weekend, and I think they’ll be able to get it against a pretty average Wisconsin team. I expect Tommy Stevens to, once again, add some value, but the offense will be sparked by a few big plays from Trace McSorley. Penn State should come away victorious in an ugly game against the Badgers.

Brian Bachman (4-3): Penn State 24, Wisconsin 17

I have Penn State picking up a much-needed win over a depleted Wisconsin squad in a game that will determine which team’s season went less badly. Whether Trace McSorley will be healthy enough to play a complete game is unknown, but it shouldn’t matter too much — the Badger offense is completely one-dimensional and should have trouble scoring points. They will certainly attempt to attack the struggling Koa Farmer with a strong run game, but without any sort of passing threat, Brent Pry’s defense should be able to handle things. I expect to see an increased amount of Jahan Dotson, which should help ignite Penn State’s struggling pass offense.

Michael Kresovich (4-0): Penn State 27, Wisconsin 17

Saturday’s game should be the ultimate Big Ten football game. It’s going to be cold, neither team will light up the scoreboard, and both punters will certainly be busy. Wisconsin was once a College Football Playoff hopeful, but the team is now unranked. The Nittany Lions should be able to win this one if they’re able to contain Wisconsin’s run game, which features star back Jonathan Taylor and the big hog-mollies on the Badgers’ offensive line who lead the way for him.

Derek Bannister (6-3): Penn State 24, Wisconsin 20

I hope Penn State is on a mission to go 9-3 this season. I’m not sure the Nittany Lions had the necessary energy heading into their games against Michigan State or Michigan, probably in large part due to the fact that they were demoralized. They likely won’t be able to stop Jonathan Taylor, but he’s probably the only offensive weapon the Badgers will have. I think Trace McSorley will have a comeback performance against Wisconsin and Penn State will continue its march towards 9-3.

Anthony Fiset (4-3): Penn State 28, Wisconsin 21

Welp, this season didn’t go as planned for either team. I’m still willing to die on the hill that Penn State is better than Wisconsin, and I think the Nittany Lions will prove me right on Saturday. As you may recall, Penn State fell 42-7 to the Wolverines last week. The Badgers met a similar fate in the Big House, but they were able to tally two more field goals against Michigan than the Nittany Lions, losing 38-13 in week 7. Penn State should be highly motivated to prove it is not the worse of the two teams from the 2016 Big Ten Championship game, and a third home loss is inconceivable. My main concern is whether Trace McSorley will have two good — or at least good enough — knees left at the end of this one.

Navin Zachariah (1-0): Penn State 23, Wisconsin 17

Penn State is honestly just due for one to go its way. Trace McSorley was not as healthy as many had hoped last week, but I feel like he’ll bounce back against the Badgers. Being back at Beaver Stadium can’t hurt this team, either. Expect the team to go to KJ Hamler more often in this one and also lean on Miles Sanders a bit more. Both programs haven’t quite lived up to expectations, so it will be interesting to see which one can come out on top.

Matt DiSanto (4-2): Penn State 28, Wisconsin 24

Following a rough showing in Ann Arbor, I’ve got a good feeling for the Nittany Lions this week. I expect Penn State to return to its roots of gritty offense and no-nonsense defense. No matter who is under behind center, Penn State can’t afford to make more mistakes at the quarterback position. I think the Nittany Lions will take this victory en route to a successful 9-3 season.

Mikey Mandarino (6-3): Penn State 17, Wisconsin 13

Honestly, I’m going against my better judgement here and picking the Nittany Lions to emerge victorious over Wisconsin. Penn State has simply looked shellshocked since the Ohio State game, especially on offense. The offense played with a swagger that this program used to rise from the abyss of sanctions, win a conference title, and make consecutive New Year’s Six bowl appearances, but all of that is gone now. There’s a decent chance Jonathan Taylor and the Badgers run all over Penn State’s defense, but that unit hasn’t looked as unconfident as the offense since the White Out loss. Regardless of the winner, this is going to be an ugly, ugly game with plenty of punts and a worse-than-usual Beaver Stadium crowd because of projected temperatures in the mid-30s.

Elissa Hill (7-2): Penn State 24, Wisconsin 17

Weather conditions should prevent this week’s matchup from the high scoring fate the Nittany Lions met at the hands of Michigan last week. I always say I think it’ll be too close for comfort, so let’s just go with that again. Penn State and Wisconsin are both deflated versions of their former selves, so don’t expect this one to be anything like the 2016 Big Ten Championship. Nonetheless, Penn State should pull this one off save for an egregious Ricky Rahne game plan. Then again, anything’s possible.

It’s going to be a cold one, folks. Bring your mittens.

Ethan Kasales (7-2): Wisconsin 27, Penn State 21

Although the loss of nose tackle Olive Sagapolu to a season-ending injury is a big blow to Wisconsin’s defensive line, the Badgers still pose a formidable challenge in the trenches. It’s hard to see Penn State’s offense taking a significant enough step forward to regain the confidence it has lost in recent weeks.

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