Staff Predictions: No. 11 Penn State vs. Northwestern

Last week, No. 11 Penn State football (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten) took care of business at home against Central Michigan in a 33-14 victory. Despite the final score, it was too close for the comfort of many after the Chippewas took advantage of the Nittany Lions’ mistakes to tie the game at halftime.

Still, behind a 100-yard rushing performance from true freshman Kaytron Allen and four forced turnovers, the Nittany Lions were able to recover the high ground and secure the No. 11 ranking in this week’s AP poll. This week, Penn State begins its schedule of exclusively conference matchups as it hosts Northwestern Saturday.

Our staffers believe Penn State will remain undefeated in conference play after Saturday’s contest.

Joe Lister (4-0): Penn State 38, Northwestern 17

C’mon, it’s Northwestern (knock on wood). For this game, it’s not a win-or-lose situation. It’s about whether Penn State can cover the spread. Frankly, Manny Diaz’s defense left something to be desired against Central Michigan on Saturday. While the Chippewas only scored 14 points, there were several drives where they looked competitive.

All the same, Clifford will record three touchdowns, Allar will be in by the fourth quarter, and Penn Staters will enjoy a win after tailgating at a reasonable hour.

Nolan Wick (4-0): Penn State 34, Northwestern 13

Penn State had a shaky start last week, but I don’t see that happening against a weaker, 1-3 Northwestern squad. Penn State is far more talented and capable of containing the likes of Evan Hull, but the Wildcats likely don’t have what it takes to handle Sean Clifford and his offensive weapons for four quarters. However, the execution must (and probably will) improve in order for the Nittany Lions to roll into the bye week on a high note.

Adam Babetski (3-1): Penn State 38, Northwestern 10

The Wildcats have been a solid team for the last few seasons, but this is not one of them. Somehow they’ve managed to lose to Duke, Miami (Ohio), and Southern Illinois – a school that I had to look up to make sure it existed. The Wildcats’ only win is a nail-biter over a Nebraska team that fired its coach two weeks later. Admittedly, the Nittany Lions’ win over Central Michigan last week wasn’t the most impressive thing in the world, but if they have aspirations of cracking the top ten this week, they will win in a rout.

Luke Brown (0-0): Penn State 38, Northwestern 13

This should be a Big Ten beatdown against a struggling Northwestern team. The standouts in this one should headline Nick Singleton and the Penn State secondary. Singleton wasn’t great last week, so I predict that Penn State will feed him early and often to get him right before the bye week. Northwestern is third in the country in interceptions thrown, which should allow this talented secondary to wreak havoc all over the field.

Aidan Conrad (1-0): Penn State 38, Northwestern 13

Clifford will finish the game with more than 300 passing yards and three touchdowns with Parker Washington being his main target. Washington will have his biggest game of the year, eclipsing 100 yards receiving and a touchdown. Ji’Ayir Brown and Joey Porter Jr. will continue to prove why Penn State has the best secondary in the country, giving the defense plenty of momentum before the bye week with Michigan waiting on the other side.

CJ Gill (1-0): Penn State 42, Northwestern 10

This should be the easiest game in October for the Nittany Lions. I expect the Nittany Lions to take care of business and head into the bye week 5-0. The biggest question is which freshman running back will reach 100 rushing yards.

Matt Brown (4-0): Penn State 42, Northwestern 17

With only Big Ten games remaining on the schedule, Penn State has a very long and tough road ahead of it. This week should be a breeze, however. Northwestern is coming off of three straight losses and the Nittany Lions should make it four this Saturday.

Penn State is by far the better team in this matchup, and I’m expecting the offense to once again have a great game. This game should practically be finished by halftime, and Drew Allar should be playing the majority of the second half.

Brady Miller (1-0): Penn State 37, Northwestern 10

After a shaky start last week, I think the Nittany Lions may come out slow again. Northwestern quarterback Ryan Hilinski already has more than 1,200 passing yards. I expect him to struggle to move the ball against a Penn State defense that leads the country in passes broken up. I’m also excited to see if Singleton gets back on track after a shaky performance last week.

Mikey DeAngelis (4-0): Penn State 41, Northwestern 16

The Nittany Lions did not look like a perfect team against Central Michigan, but Northwestern should be a fairly easy win for Penn State. The Wildcats have not played well in their first couple of games this season. With home-field advantage, I think the Nittany Lions will take care of them pretty easily.

Sam Fremin (4-0): Penn State 31, Northwestern 16

Outside of a noticeably bad second quarter, people are overreacting about Penn State’s performance against Central Michigan. If you’re expecting a 45-0 win, prepare for disappointment. But if you’re expecting the Nittany Lions to remain undefeated in conference play, your expectation will be met.

Frankie Marzano (4-0): Penn State 42, Northwestern 17

The bye week has a bigger chance of derailing Penn State’s season than Northwestern. No, seriously. James Franklin has only won coming off the bye week twice since he was hired in 2014.

Ryan Parsons (4-0): Penn State 35, Northwestern 17

In a way, this feels a bit like the Illinois game last year. Rain, easy conference opinion, big opponent looming. But, in another very real way, Northwestern has lost to three cupcake teams this season. Beer in Beaver Stadium is the biggest storyline.

Gabe Angieri (4-0): Penn State 37, Northwestern 13

This will be the last cupcake game for Penn State for quite some time. The Nittany Lions, on the backs of Nick Singleton and Kaytron Allen, will cruise past the Wildcats for an easy victory.

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