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Staff Predictions: No. 10 Penn State vs. No. 22 Auburn

No. 10 Penn State football (2-0, 1-0 Big Ten) will host No. 22 Auburn (2-0) in its annual White Out game this Saturday at Beaver Stadium.

The Nittany Lions dominated Ball State last week in 44-13 victory. The Tigers, meanwhile, blew out Alabama State 62-0.

Almost all of our staffers expect Penn State to win its White Out game and improve to 3-0 on the season.

Samuel Brungo (2-0): Penn State 27, Auburn 20

It’s been a while since Penn State had its White Out game this early in the season. In my head, I picture this game being similar to the 2019 win over Michigan. Something where Penn State seemingly dominates, but the opposition will find a way to keep itself in the game and have a late push.

A few years ago, losing a home game was unheard of. While it has become less impossible, this is still the most hostile environment in college football. Clifford will shine and continue his connection with Dotson. The fans play a big part, but the defense wins this game. Bo Nix? More like “throw picks.” State by seven.

Larkin Richards (0-0): Penn State 24, Auburn 20

Because it is the first White Out game in 23 months, I certainly can’t go in with a losing mindset. With the game Sean Clifford had last week against Ball State, I can only be optimistic. He had much more improvement than in the Wisconsin game.

The team has some dynamite players like Jahan Dotson. To add that thought process to a packed stadium, I can only go with a winning score. Of course, I am new here over on the staff predictions side of things, so maybe I am totally wrong. I know enough about this Penn State team that I can be optimistic, and it’ll still screw me over.

Mikey DeAngelis (1-0): Penn State 26, Auburn 23

This Auburn team is tricky, and even Penn State head coach James Franklin knows it. Auburn is 2-0, winning both of its games by significant margins against unranked opponents. Because of this, the Nittany Lions have little-to-no film of this Auburn team playing against competitive opponents.

On the other hand, Penn State has shown itself to be hungry this season and took down a highly ranked Big Ten team in its opening game. I expect Penn State to surprise SEC loyalists and pull off the win in front of an electric Beaver Stadium crowd. However, I believe this Auburn team is talented and will give the Nittany Lions a run for their money.

Sarah Sacker (0-0): Penn State 28, Auburn 24

I think it’s going to be a close game with Penn State scoring a go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter. With the White Out environment, I think Penn State’s defense is going to really show up, and Auburn is going to struggle but still put up a good fight.

Charles Reinert (2-0): Penn State 30, Auburn 14

Maybe I’m cocky, maybe I’m naive. But Penn State is going to handle Auburn quite easily this weekend. The Tigers’ offense is run-heavy, and I think this Penn State defense will be rise to the occasion and shut down Auburn’s run game. After that, you gotta let Bo Nix beat you, and I don’t think he’s up to the task.

I’m just going to say it — Bo Nix is not good, and this coaching staff knows it. Only letting him throw 17 times against Alabama State? And he completed nine of those passes? He does not scare me in the slightest. In a big game between the SEC and the Big Ten, I don’t think the Tigers have any idea what they’re in for with the White Out.

Frankie Marzano (2-0): Penn State 41, Auburn 17

Ah, the White Out.

There’s nothing like it, and that’s exactly why Penn State will have the edge this weekend. Before even getting analytical, let’s all remember that not one Auburn player has experienced an environment like the one they will face this weekend. Afternoon games down south aren’t like night games in Happy Valley.

Also, Penn State’s defense might just prove to be too much for Bo Nix to handle. Jaquan Brisker and Ji’Ayir Brown will have the middle of the field shut down like they usually do. With Sean Clifford and the rest of the Penn State offense also rolling, I think Penn State will represent the Big Ten well and come out with a win.

Devon Craley (1-0): Penn State 23, Auburn 20

This week will be a complete 180 for the Nittany Lions from where they were a week ago. Last week, Penn State faced off against a MAC team in a game where everybody knew it would win. Now, this week presents a whole new challenge with incredibly high expectations.

When the schedule was first released, I thought this game would be an easy one for Penn State. Give credit where credit is due, and the Auburn Tigers certainly deserve their fair share of credit based on how good they have looked to start the season. After starting out the season outside of the AP Top 25 Poll, the Tigers will enter the White Out ranked No. 22 after steamrolling both Akron and Alabama St. in consecutive weeks. 

However, Penn State’s White Out is a different animal. I predict that this high-flying Auburn offense that has scored 60+ in back-to-back games will hit a wall on Saturday, largely due to the fact that it will be playing in the most electric atmosphere that sports have to offer.

With College GameDay in the morning and the White Out at night, the electricity in State College on Saturday will be second-to-none, and I fully expect the Tigers to crumble. Yes, Penn State’s offense will struggle at times, we know this. However, what Auburn doesn’t know is how good this Penn State defense is and the amount of juice it gets from the 100,000-plus fans who will fill Beaver Stadium Saturday evening.

Penn State wins the game by a close score. I also think Auburn misses a game-tying field goal attempt in the last seconds of the game.

Adam Babetski (1-0): Penn State 23, Auburn 13

Penn State will throw the kitchen sink at Auburn in this game. On top of the White Out conditions, the Nittany Lions are now a top-10 team that received extra motivation from Ohio State’s crucial loss last week. The only thing missing from this game will be the freezing temperatures. 

Auburn is one of the better teams in the SEC and moved up to No. 22 in the AP Top 25 poll last week. It thrashed its first two opponents, Akron and Alabama State, by a combined score of 122-10. On the other hand, Penn State has already defeated one of the best teams in the Big Ten, as well as a solid out-of-conference opponent.

Auburn quarterback Bo Nix has developed into a solid passer in his third year at the program, but, like many before him, he may be initially overwhelmed by the White Out experience. Auburn will fall behind by a couple of scores early before recovering its wits. It won’t be enough, though, as Penn State comes out on top in another defensive battle.

Sam Fremin (1-0): Penn State 20, Auburn 16

It may be a lazy take at this point, but Auburn’s opponents have not offered much in the way of challenges this season. Though in those games, Auburn has accomplished exactly what is expected of it, which is not always easy. That said, in his career against ranked opponents, Auburn’s quarterback, Bo Nix, has thrown twelve touchdowns and nine interceptions. That’s a ratio that I expect Penn State’s excellent defense to feast on.

I don’t know if I feel ultra-confident picking Penn State here, but I like tangible evidence. Auburn doesn’t have much at this stage. The Nittany Lions have already weathered a tough battle with Wisconsin and refused to allow Ball State to become a trap game. I have to give Penn State the edge.

Ethan Bell (0-0): Penn State 24, Auburn 20

This is one of the most evenly matched games for the Nittany Lions this year. Auburn is an extremely fast team with a very experienced quarterback, Bo Nix, and a great defense. The Tigers have not played anyone really good yet, so I think that they will struggle in a tough environment early but eventually ease into the game. 

I think that Penn State will trail 20-17 late in the fourth quarter, and the offense will score a touchdown on its final drive, and then the defense will make a big stop at the end of the game. With some help from the White Out crowd, Penn State will solidify its top-10 status with a big win against one of the better SEC teams in the country.

Nolan Wick (1-0): Penn State 20, Auburn 17

After two long years, the White Out is finally upon us. Led by quarterback Bo Nix and linebacker Zakoby McClain, the SEC’s Auburn Tigers will still be a challenge despite the noise factor. Auburn’s biggest strength is its linebacking corps, with three of them having ten or more tackles this season.

Auburn’s strong linebacking core and defense will make life difficult for the Penn State offense, but Brent Pry’s defense will return the favor to the Tiger offense. Penn State has proved more than Auburn so far, as its two wins came against Akron and Alabama State. This matchup is going to be a nail-biter, with two elite defenses keeping it close. Eventually, the No. 10-ranked Nittany Lions will prevail, walking away 3-0 in college football’s best atmosphere.

Zach Donaldson (2-0): Penn State 38, Auburn 20

After a year hiatus, Penn State’s White Out is officially back, folks. Its latest pending victim is the Auburn Tigers. In the rare Big Ten/SEC clash, both teams find themselves ranked in the AP Top 25. Penn State sits at No. 10 and Auburn No. 22, respectively.

Penn State’s defense has been lethal so far this season, but perhaps the Nittany Lions are about to face their biggest test in quarterback Bo Nix and running back Tank Bigsby. However, Nix has been atrocious on the road in his career. In a hostile environment like the Beaver Stadium White Out, he’s going to need to be extra on point or else Penn State’s defense will feast.

On offense, Penn State needs to stick to a basic blueprint against a good, but not great Tigers defense. I think Mike Yurcich and company use the early crowd energy to their advantage, establish the run and then strike some big plays down the field.

If Penn State can do that, I think the Nittany Lions will run away with this one.

Alex Petersen (0-0): Auburn 27, Penn State 24

Penn State has been very impressive so far this year. This game will come down to one thing — Penn State’s defense. The unit has been nothing short of stellar this year, but some of us overlook what an SEC offense can do. I could easily see the game going either way. In the end, I think the Tigers’ offense will put together some late drives to win this one by a few points.

Charlie Pegler (0-0): Penn State 27, Auburn 17

Yes, Auburn has been a powerhouse on offense this season, scoring 60 in week one and 62 in week two. However, its two games were against Alabama St. and Akron, respectively, not exactly two powerhouses. The No. 22 team in the nation has been led by its experienced quarterback, Bo Nix. Additionally, its defense has allowed a total of 10 points through both games. 

With that being said, Penn State’s defense has looked as good as it has in years, with depth at basically every position. I see no way in which Auburn will be able to drive down the field and score easily, especially facing the madness of a Penn State White Out. I expect a defensive touchdown early and a great outing from Sean Clifford on Saturday night that will include at least two touchdown passes to Jahan Dotson. 

Beaver Stadium is going to be absolutely rocking in its “true” return. Get ready for what will be one hell of a night in the valley, folks.

Connor Krause (2-0): Penn State 31, Auburn 23

Although the Tigers are entering Happy Valley with the nation’s best scoring defense, I expect Mike Yurcich’s offense to be able to hang points on the visiting squad.

After two games, Sean Clifford looks to be the game-manager the Nittany Lions need him to be, without forcing a turnover heading into week three. If Penn State can establish the run and open the play-action pass for Clifford, Jahan Dotson and Parker Washington will be able to expose Auburn’s lack of depth in the secondary throughout the night.

On defense, Bo Nix and Auburn’s steady attack should score on Penn State, but Brent Pry’s unit has shown that it can buckle down in the red zone when needed. Due to the defensive output shown so far, I don’t think the Tigers will be able to score enough on Penn State to put the game in question down the stretch.

Gabe Angieri (1-1): Penn State 31, Auburn 17

Make it three in a row, folks.

Penn State is going to win this Saturday, and I’m pretty confident in saying that. I fully expect Mike Yurcich’s offense to build on last week’s performance with another encouraging showing. Sean Clifford is going to throw three touchdowns, with two to Jahan Dotson and one to Theo Johnson. Noah Cain will score the other touchdown for the Nittany Lions on a run of 30+ yards.

Brent Pry’s defense will bend a little bit by giving up two touchdowns, though, will continue its dominant play with three forced turnovers. Expect Jesse Luketa to pick up right where he left off last week with another stellar game, too.

Penn State will roll into week four with a 3-0 record and a top-eight ranking in the AP Top 25 Poll.

Ryan Parsons (2-0): Penn State 28, Auburn 13

Don’t let Auburn’s two non-conference wins fool you. I don’t think the Tigers are that great of a football team! Especially on the road, veteran quarterback Bo Nix just hasn’t gotten the job done in years past. I believe Penn State will jump out to a White Out-fueled early lead and it will all be downhill from there for Auburn.

This could be one of the more impressive Nittany Lion defenses we’ve seen in recent memory. This game will be won or lost in the trenches, and I think Penn State holds a solid edge in that regard. It’s actually kind of hard to get a read on this Auburn team due to the limited tape, but the Nittany Lions are much more battle-tested at this point in the season. My gut feeling is the Tigers will get shell-shocked playing a real opponent and it might not be very close.

Will Pegler (2-0): Penn State 34, Auburn 23

Ladies and gents, I am once again recommending you take Penn State by the points.

Auburn has yet to be tested this year after wins over Akron and Alabama State, and the first full-stadium White Out in nearly two years is hardly an easy way to get welcomed back to a Power Five opponent.

Bo Nix, who’s had notable struggles on the road already, will be rattled early and often by the electric Beaver Stadium atmosphere, and I see the Tigers’ offense struggling to get their feet under them. As for Penn State, Mike Yurcich’s offense will continue to improve into week three, and I’m predicting two touchdowns for Jahan Dotson to set the tone early.

Let Noah Cain run the rock late with a comfortable lead. Even if Auburn does manage to make a run late, I think Penn State will have a big enough cushion to improve to 3-0 with ease.

Matt DiSanto (1-1): Penn State 38, Auburn 17

There’s not a chance in hell Penn State loses this game. White Out conditions and a visit from College GameDay will give the Nittany Lions enough of a boost to put away Auburn and its incredibly annoying fans. Smash the over on Jahan Dotson yards, stadium decibels, and shattered attendance records.

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