NU : 28
For Penn State to win, they are going to have to continue where the left off last week in terms of running the ball. In order to neutralize the run-pass ability of Kain Colter, the legs of Venric Mark, and the passing prowess of Trevor Siemian, they have to keep them on the sidelines. A track meet will not end well for the boys in blue and white I’m afraid.
Believe it or not, the Wildcats have been doing most of their damage on the ground and not through the air. Penn State has to be able to slow down the running game and force Northwestern to beat them through the air.
The contest’s turning point could come down to the kicking game. Northwestern’s Steve Budzien may be the best in the Big Ten this year. He is 11-11 on FG attempts and has 19 extra points. We know all about the problems in the kicking game at Penn State. If it comes down to a pressure kick to win the game, Budzien is the guy I’m taking!
This is such a tough game to predict! On one hand, Penn State has really played well of late and they are starting to come together. On the other hand they are playing perhaps the best offense they have seen this season. The last time they played a prolific read-option offense (Ohio University), they lost. Last week doesn’t count since Illinois was terrible. In the end, I think Northwestern has the ability to convert more opportunities on the plus side of the field than Penn State. The Nittany Lions will fight valiantly in this game, but their inability to get at least 3 points when the opportunity presents itself will be their undoing. Northwestern keeps the train rolling with a hard-fought win.
Offensively, Penn State has been able to score on Northwestern in the past and I expect that to continue. The Northwestern secondary is soft and Penn State should be able push them around a bit in the run game. Expect them to give NW a heavy dose of Zwinak to wear them down and pull away late.