If history is any indication, Northwestern will lose this Saturday. The Cats open Big Ten play against undefeated Penn State, which hasn't lost to NU in a decade.
Since the Nittany Lions joined the Big Ten in 1990, they have absolutely dominated Northwestern. Penn State owns a 13-3 record against the Cats. Only Ohio State has had more success against NU in that time period.
Saturday's game is in State College, where NU has only won once: a 14-7 victory in 2004. NU's two other wins over Penn State came in 2003 and 1995.
This table shows the result of every Northwestern-Penn State football game since 1993, when the Nittany Lions started Big Ten play.
While NU's wins are few and far between, Penn State has had quite the football dynasty over the last 30 years. The Nittany Lions have had just four losing seasons since joining the Big Ten. Even still, it's worth noting that two of Northwestern's three wins over Penn State came during two of those losing seasons.
In fact, the Penn State teams of 2003 and 2004 were two of the worst in program history. The 2003 team won three games, which was the fewest of any Penn State team since 1938. And the 2004 team only won four games.
Pat Fitzgerald is winless as a coach against the Nittany Lions, but he did beat them as a player in '95. In the Fitz era NU has lost to Penn State by an average of 11.2 points. As of today, the Nittany Lions are 11-point favorites for Saturday's game.