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Free Pick: Auburn at Penn State 9/18/21
Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports

Free Pick: Auburn at Penn State 9/18/21

This game is the most attractive matchup of the week as it features the SEC agains the Big10 and two big-name teams. Auburn comes into this one averaging 61 points a game against 2 terrible opening opponents. On the other hand, the Nittany Lions went to Madison, Wisconsin and knocked off the Badgers (no easy task) and then methodically put away a decent Ball State squad, 44-13. So, one must assume, that Penn State is battle-tested and the Tigers still don’t know what they have. Saturday night they are going to find out.

Scouting Auburn: Because of the poor competition they have played, their offensive stats are out of whack and really don’t have much credence. Quarterback, Bo Nix is back for his junior year and has been up and down during his Auburn career. This will be his first test of the season and how he plays will be a big key to the outcome. The Tigers have had solid running back play out of Tank Bigsby and Jarquez Hunter and they will have to be able to sustain some sort of a running game. They haven’t had to throw the ball much but they have a handful of talented receivers for Nix to throw to. Defensively, Auburn is always good and this year appears to me more of the same. Zacoby McClain, Chandler Wooten, and Owen Pappoe are all off to good starts. Upfront there are several guys that can cause all kinds of havoc on the opposing quarterback and running backs. And cornerback Roger McCreary is the leader of the secondary.

Scouting Penn State: There is nothing fancy about the Penn State offense. They are going to be physical upfront and rely on the running game, and the quarterback is expected to be mistake-free and make a big play when needed. Quarterback Sean Clifford has excelled at his role in the first two games, throwing for 477 yards with 2 touchdowns and zero interceptions. That is what the Lions want from their QB. There is cause for concern in the running game as they were held to 50 yards against Wisconsin before gaining 240 last week on Ball State. Noah Cain has gotten the bulk of the carries and has 117 yards after two games. Jahan Dotson and Parker Washington have combined for 20 catches for 271 yards and two touchdowns and are the go-to guys for Clifford. The Penn State defense is as good as usual and features linebackers, Brandon Smith and Ellis Brooks who have 27 tackles between them. Upfront, Arnold Ebiketie has 8 solo tackles and a sack in an impressive beginning. The secondary is deep and talented and are led by Jonathan Sutherland and his 10 tackles.

This game is hard to gauge because we don’t have much to go on with Auburn because of the poor competition they have played. But, we know they have SEC talent all over the field and they can stack up with anybody. Penn State is a clone of themselves every year and there will be no surprises for them. It will come down to whichever team can make the most plays on offense and who wins the turnover battle. Penn State is currently a 5 point favorite and that is based on what they achieved against Wisconsin. This should be a good one.

AARON’S PICK: Penn State -5

PAPA DUDES’S PICK: Auburn +5

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