Football: USA TODAY Sports expert picks for Penn State game – Auburn Wire

Game day has finally arrived for the No. 23 Penn State Nittany Lions and Auburn Tigers. Last year the Tigers fell in State College 28-20, this time around it is Auburn looking to defend the home turf.
Eddie Timanus of USA TODAY Sports broke down several nonconference matchups, including this showdown at Jordan-Hare.
This could be a yardstick game for both programs as they renew acquaintances from a year ago, though the Nittany Lions weren’t really able to build on last year’s victory over the Tigers in State College. This Penn State squad, however, has already delivered a hard-fought win on the road at Purdue, with veteran QB Sean Clifford able to shake off a terrible interception with a game-winning drive. Auburn should be equally prepared after being pushed at home by San Jose State last week, but QB T.J. Finley has been unexceptional.
Obviously, if you are an Auburn fan you will be tuned in for this game. This will be a great measuring stick for the Tigers as they look to begin the year 3-0. The wins over Mercer and San Jose State left a lot to be desired. In the opener, it was never a doubt but Finley’s two interceptions were a huge negative.
The passing attack from the starter had one long play of 39 yards, outside of the long pass to Javarrius Johnson, T.J. Finley would finish 8-13 for 73 yards. The home team needs a lot more from their quarterback. Against San Jose State, the team trailed to a Mountain West opponent at halftime despite being a three-touchdown favorite. Once again the quarterbacks threw a pair of interceptions.
We will find out at 2:30 p.m. CT if the passers are up to the challenge of the Nittany Lions defense that is giving up 11.3 yards per completion and 264.5 yards per game. Manny Diaz’s unit is also allowing just 47.5% of attempts to be completed.
The atmosphere might not be as electric as it would if this were a night game, but there should still be plenty of noise in Jordan-Hare. Things could get a bit more staid if this becomes a punting contest, a likely possibility if the ground defenses take over.
A night kickoff would give a different feel to this game but the Tigers will play the schedule they were handed. The hope is that Tank Bigsby gets rolling in this game but the Nittany Lions are only allowing 80 yards per game and 3.3 YPC.
Here is how the USA TODAY Sports national experts predicted the game:
Scooby Axson: Penn State
Jace Evans: Auburn
Paul Myerberg: Penn State
Erick Smith: Penn State
Eddie Timanus: Penn State
Dan Wolken: Auburn
Though Penn State is a Top 25 team, technically, it is hard to figure why the Nittany Lions are a favorite going on the road against Auburn. Penn State was fortunate to escape Week 1 with a win at Purdue, driving down the field for the winning touchdown with less than a minute to go. Auburn is a better team than Purdue, and even though the Tigers have not looked super impressive early this season either, it’s going to be a tall order for Penn State to come down to Jordan-Hare Stadium and play against a pretty physical team. Auburn wins a very low scoring game and solidifies Bryan Harsin’s job status, at least until next week. – Wolken
Looks like Penn State gets the nod here 4-2.
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