Penn State vs. Northwestern Prediction, Game Preview

    Penn State vs. Northwestern prediction and game preview. The Nittany Lions try to improve to 8-2 as they travel to Evanston to take on the Wildcats.

    November 3, 2015


    It’s the pecking order game. Both teams are still in the Big Ten title chase, but it would take a miracle for either one to be in Indianapolis. Even so, the winner will move up the bowl pecking order. Penn State (7-2) is starting to play better and better, and Northwestern (6-2) is coming off a nice break and a win over Northwestern. Check out the Penn State vs. Northwestern game preview and prediction.

    Penn State vs. Northwestern Game Preview

    Broadcast

    Date: Saturday, Nov. 7
    Game Time: 12:00 pm
    Venue: Ryan Field, Evanston, IL

    Network: ESPNU

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    Why You Need To Care

    It’s not like Illinois is a world-beater, but after struggling against Maryland, to stomp the Fighting Illini 39-0 last week was a big moment for Penn State. The defense got its groove back after two rough weeks, and the offense started to look good against an actual defense, providing hope that this might be a bit more than just a decent year finishing fourth in the Big Ten North. While the Nittany Lions already lost to Ohio State, they still get Michigan and Michigan State to close things out. Win out, and all of a sudden, this could get really interesting.

    Northwestern might not be all that glamorous, but it’s bowl eligible thanks to a tough, stingy defense and a good enough running game to capitalize on key opportunities. The two losses came to Michigan and Iowa – no shame there – and now it’s time to make a big statement. Win this week, and then the record will start to look impressive with Purdue at home next, Illinois to close, and a key road game at Wisconsin. Wildcat football isn’t pretty, but 7-2 would look fantastic no matter what.

    Why Penn State Will Win

    The Northwestern offense is right in the Penn State wheelhouse. There’s no passing game to be concerned with, and it’s not going to do a thing against a Nittany Lion pass D that’s fourth in the nation. The defensive front couldn’t stop Ohio State, and it struggled against Maryland and running quarterback Perry Hills, but it’s time to tee off. Absolutely phenomenal at getting into the backfield, Penn State has 83 tackles for loss on the year and will sell the house to get behind the Northwestern line. Turnovers are a problem for the PSU offense at times lately, but the defense is picking up the slack.

    Why Northwestern Will Win

    The Penn State offense is doing a bit better, but it’s still pulling teeth to get a third down conversion. The Nittany Lion offense has only converted more than 39% of its third down chances once, and is hitting on just 29% of its tries so far. It’s ugly at times for a team that can’t move the chains, and it’s not going to have a slew of easy chances against a defense that got run on by Michigan and Iowa, but by almost no one else. This is where the rest will kick in – the Wildcat front four should come up with a gem. At the very least, it’s not going to get shoved around.

    Player Who Matters

    You knew this was coming. Defenses were going to load up on Northwestern RB Justin Jackson, and then the O was going to have to figure something different. Jackson was a workhorse over the first part of the season with four 100-yard running games in the first five, and then Michigan and Iowa stuffed him and Nebraska held him to 40 yards on 14 carries. Last year he ran 15 times for 50 yards in the win over Penn State, and this time around he might have to double that.

    What’s Going To Happen?

    If you love offensive shootouts and video game football, the Big 12 is right there for you. If you like ugly, inept offense/aggressive, impressive defense, here you go. There’s not going to be anything interesting about this game except the team that emerges with the win – it’ll become a fringe player in the Big Ten race.

    Penn State vs. Northwestern Prediction

    Final Score: Northwestern 17, Penn State 13, Line: Northwestern -2.5, o/u: 40.5

    Must See Rating:5: The Gospel According To Mac – 1: Supergirl … 3.5

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