Check out our media and blogger predictions for week six. After three weeks of unanimous picks, this one is a 5-4 decision for Northwestern.
Kevin Trahan, Inside Northwestern: Penn State 28, Northwestern 24 — This isn’t about which team has played better opponents; it isn’t about history and it isn’t about records. This comes down to the matchup, which seems to be favorable for Penn State. For the record, I think NU is the better team and will finish with a better record, but this game sets up well for Penn State, and Matt McGloin should be able to have at least some offensive success. But this comes down to strength-on-strength: the Penn State defense vs. the Northwestern offense. NU will break out for big plays at times, but the Nittany Lions have outstanding linebackers who can contain Kain Colter and Venric Mark better than any defense we’ve seen yet. NU certainly can win that matchup, but since it’s the toughest test Colter will face so far, I’m giving a slight edge to PSU.
Chris Johnson, Inside Northwestern: Penn State 24, Northwestern 21 — This is an unfavorable situation for NU: A PSU team that’s just now hitting its stride, a hyped-up white-out crowd, the unlikely improvement of QB Matt McGloin excelling in Bill O’Brien’s pro-style system. It’s been an impressive start for the Wildcats, but the streak ends Saturday. I expect a grind-it-out, low-scoring mess of an affair. The Lions’ toughness and emotional impetus gives them a slight edge.
Chris Emma, PurpleWildcats.com: Northwestern 28, Penn State 13 — Northwestern will earn a big win in its first road test while exposing Penn State. The NU ground attack, led by Kain Colter and Venric Mark, will be too much to handle for the Nittany Lion defense; the two will scamper for 150 yards each. Meanwhile, the Wildcat defense will continue its strong play, while seeking redemption for previous tough losses to Penn State. NU will move to 6-0 for the first time since John F. Kennedy was president.
Jonathan Hodges, Hail To Purple: Northwestern 24, Penn State 21 — Expect a lower scoring affair with the PSU defense keeping the NU ground game contained for the most part but with Siemian stepping in with timely throws to put points on the board. Meanwhile, the NU defense will also lock up PSU's RBs and force McGloin to make some mistakes to make up for relatively flawless performances in the last two matchups between these teams. In the end, NU's advantage on special teams (particularly in place kicking but also in field position thanks to the return game and net punting) will tip the scales in the 'Cats' favor and allow Northwestern to bring home its first win over Penn State in the Fitzgerald era.
Danny Moran, NBN Sports: Northwestern 20, Penn State 17 — The Wildcats will continue to use Trevor Siemian as their primary quarterback and Kain Colter as their slasher. The Nittany Lions will offense will stall amid a solid performance but some costly Wildcat penalties will keep the game close. However, Jeff Budzien will put one through the uprights in the fourth quarter to seal 6-0 for the first time in 50 years.
Jon Davis, Northwestern Highlights: Northwestern 24, Penn State 17 — Special teams will be the difference. Penn State may hit a FG on a 4th and long from inside the 20, but going for it on 4th down will result in the Penn State offense walking off the field with no points on a couple of occasions. NU’s offense will rack up more yards and win the time of possession battle.
Josh Walfish, The Daily Northwestern: Northwestern 24, Penn State 17 — The Wildcats keep rolling as Kain Colter plays more quarterback than last week and goes over 100 yards again this week. Venric Mark will get 20 carries and 86 yards, but it will be Trevor Siemian who takes over the game in the fourth quarter, hitting Colter in the left corner of the end zone for the winning score.
Colin Becht, The Daily Northwestern: Penn State 24, Northwestern 17 — After pulling out close games in each of its first four contests, Northwestern finally drops one. The Wildcats bring a lead into halftime as Penn State tries for a balanced offense to limited success. Kain Colter and Venric Mark each get a touchdown on the ground as no amount of tape from the Indiana game can fully prepare the Nittany Lions for Northwestern’s option attack. Trailing at halftime, Bill O’Brien goes to an aerial assault, and Matt McGloin thrives, building on his six-touchdowns-to-no-interceptions lifetime ratio against the Cats. Michael Mauti and the Penn State linebackers get a better grasp of NU’s read-option plays, stymieing the Cats’ ground game. NU’s streak of not scoring in the second half against Penn State reaches six games as the Nittany Lions escape with their fourth straight victory.
Nick Medline, PurpleWildcats.com: Penn State 28, Northwestern 17 — Could go either way. A couple of columnists on this site pointed out that the semi-confusing quarterback situation could hurt NU going forward. I agree. The Wildcats fall behind and stumble into panic mode sans offensive rhythm. Matt McGloin – perhaps the best quarterback this team has faced all year – puts forth another steady performance and gives the Nittany Lions an emotional win. NU can still go 9-3. This loss might function as a wake-up call.