CFB Week 3 Preview – Auburn @ Penn State 00.30 UK Time (19.30 EST). Week 3 of College Football boasts some credibility tasty match-ups. You’ve got Miami V Michigan State, West Virginia V Virginia Tech, BYU V Arizona State and an absolute monster of a game in Florida V Alabama. In this article I will be focusing on the match-up between the Auburn Tigers and the Penn State Nittany Lions.
Undrafted’s Fascinating Facts
- Auburn at Penn State is Auburn’s first B1G road game since 1931 at Wisconsin.
- It is only the 3rd time a ranked SEC team has visited a ranked B1G team.
Penn State Atmosphere
As if the game of two ranked teams battling it out isn’t entertaining enough for you, Penn State also boasts one of the best atmospheres in College Football. A tradition that dates back to 2005 sees the Nittany Lion faithful pack out the 4th largest stadium in the world dressed in all white. The “White Out” as it’s known is one of the most daunting atmospheres a player could face. Former NCAA coach, Urban Meyer, once stated that “the atmosphere is worth a 10 point advantage for the Nittany Lions”. The noise of 111,000 rowdy Nittany Lion fans is sure to rock the Auburn players who will have to grab an early lead in a bid to control the crowd
I feel like this game has been slightly overshadowed by the hype over the Alabama vs Florida game, but for me this is the biggest game and the one I am most looking forward to on the College Football schedule this weekend. Both teams come into this game with a flawless record so far. Although Auburn have certainly had an easier run of games, with Penn State being the first team of note that they will have faced. Auburn have put up two 60+ point games against Akron and then ASU. While Penn State have beat a solid Wisconsin team on the road and put a beat down on Ball State just last week. Auburn are coming into this game as a slight unknown, although we know they have talent on their roster with the likes of Bo Nix at QB and Tank Bigsby at RB.
With Auburn losing two of their best receivers (Seth Williams and Anthony Schwartz) to the NFL Draft in April and Penn State having one of the best Secondary’s in College Football with a PFF Coverage grade of 90.3 it could be a tough night for Auburn’s passing game. A player who has the talent to turn this around is the transfer form Georgia, Demetris Robertson. A player who Bo Nix seems to favor, with 2 TDs and 7 targets for 89 yards so far, could have a breakout night.
Saturday is the day that we see if the Auburn defense is for real! On paper they look fantastic, only allowing 10 points in 2 games, although it was against inferior opponents. PFF have generously gave them a grade of 86.65 for their efforts in the 1st two games of the season, with their standout area being the run defense. Much like Penn State they boast a strong secondary with the greatest name in College Football, Smoke Monday, being a a key cog in the Tiger’s defensive.
Penn State will need to find the answer to the Tiger’s defense early on in the game. Specifically Auburn’s run defense which PFF grades at 89.2. The answer to this problem could be the Penn State RB tandem of Noah Cain and Keyvone Lee, who combined have rushed for 181 yards in the 1st two games of the season. Cain alone has punched in 2 TDs already!
Another key player for the Nittany Lions will be DE Arnold Ebiketie who will be be looking to shorten the time that Bo Nix has in the pocket. Ebiketie has achieved a PFF grade of 86.6 in Pressure, due to his 9 pressures on the opposing QB with one of them resulting in a sack Ebiketie has also made 6 tackles so far that has resulted in a loss of yards for the opposition. Bo Nix, you have been warned…
Undrafted’s Penn State Talent Watch – Jaquan Brisker SS
This young mans name is sure to be a household one in years to come! Coming into the season, Brisker was tipped to be snapped up in the 2nd round of the 2022 NFL Draft. After his game against Wisconsin I believe that his draft stock has went up. He played an absolute blinder against the Badgers, making what would ultimately be a game winning play. Brisker picked off the Wisconsin QB when the Badgers where on the Penn State goal-line on 4th down. Talk about coming up clutch! PFF gave him a grade of 85, one of the best of all defensive players in Week 1. Keep your eyes and ears open for Brisker as he might just be the deciding factor in the game!
Undrafted’s Auburn Talent Watch – Tank Bigsby RB
A big game for the Tiger’s RB looks to be on the cards for Saturday. Although Penn state is certainly a step up in opposition from Akron and ASU, I’m confident that Bigsby will be the key piece for the Tigers offense. In his 1st two games of the season Bigsby has ran for 241 yards, averaging around 10 yards per carry and securing himself 2 TDs.
There is two reasons why I believe the Auburn RB will have himself a name making day. Reason one, Penn State has a poor defense against the run game, only achieving a PFF grade of 61.45. Reason two, it is fairly well known that Auburn QB, Bo Nix, struggles on the road and you can not get a much harder road game than a Penn State Whiteout. His completion rate drops to 54% and, get this, he has thrown more interceptions (10) than TDs (9) when playing on the road! I fully expect Auburn coach Bryan Harsin to rely heavily on the run game and on Bigsby specifically.
At the moment Penn State are currently 5.5 point favorites. This is such a hard game to call and I cant see it being decided by much more than a score. Auburn are still such an unknown and for that reason my prediction skews in the favor of the Nittany Lions. As for Under/Over id definitely take the Under option. With two solid defenses I cant see either team making huge plays downfield and believe that most of the work will on on the ground.
Whether you’re a neutral, Lion or Tiger it’s sure to be a fantastic spectacle!
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