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Northwestern vs. Penn State predictions

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If we're right, the losing will continue.

Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

It's time for picks again! We're not all that confident that Northwestern is going to turn this around.

Kevin Trahan

Northwestern has a pretty good defense and Penn State has a pretty pedestrian offense. The Wildcats have a shot if they can continue to play solid run defense and dial up some blitzes to get Hackenberg uncomfortable. The problem is, I don't think the offense will keep up.

Penn State 20, Northwestern 10

Chris Johnson

Penn State's not good enough offensively to turn this game into a blowout. Northwestern will keep it close, but winning in Happy Valley is a tall order for a team that has barely looked FBS-caliber so far this season.

Penn State 24, Northwestern 13

Josh Rosenblat

I was thinking about giving Northwestern a shot until Collin Ellis was ruled out. That's a huge, huge loss for Northwestern, no question about it. I do think that getting Tony Jones back will be huge and a big play or two from him will keep the game close. Kyle Prater will bounce back from last week and go for about 60 yards in the contest.

Penn State 20, Northwestern 10

Henry Bushnell

I really think this game depends on Hackenberg. Because of the offensive line woes, he won't be ripping NU to threads, but if he can stand in and make enough impressive throws, I can't see Siemian matching him. The wild card could be special teams, but even a strong showing in the third phase might not be enough.

Penn State 17, Northwestern 9

Kevin Dukovic

Opening conference play on the road against an undefeated Penn State team is the ultimate test for Northwestern. Even though this is Northwestern, the Cats won't pass this time. Penn State is superior to Northwestern in all three phases. Behind a sharp Christian Hackenberg, a stout defensive performance and a stadium packed to the brim for Homecoming, the Nittany Lions will win handily and vault into the Top 25.

Penn State 34, Northwestern 17

Jason Dorow

Limiting mistakes is going to be the key to this game. It should be a defensive battle with very little scoring, much like the NIU game from a couple weeks ago. Northwestern will have to score some points off turnovers to have a chance. Christian Hackenberg and the Penn State offense, on the other hand, will punch it in the end zone at least a few times. Homefield advantage helps the Nittany Lions to a 10-point victory.

Penn State 20, Northwestern 10

Daniel Rapaport

Sure, Penn St. has struggled often, but wins are wins and the Nittany Lions are 4-0. Happy Valley is a tough place to play college football, and you have to believe their crowd will be fired up at the chance to go 5-0 and 2-0 in conference. Christian Hackenberg scares me in a similar manner that Jared Goff scared me, and not to toot my own horn, but I was right about Goff being able to find holes in Northwestern's shaky secondary. Hackenberg, like Goff, will play on Sundays, and Penn St.'s aerial attack will be too much for the ‘Cats. But I have a feeling NU will jump out to an early lead, so the scoreline won't be too lopsided.

Penn State 27, Northwestern 13

Nate Williams

Northwestern has the talent to win this game, but they won't. At the same time it wouldnt surprise me to see them win as Penn State is the least impressive 4-0 team I've seen, and about 10x less impressive than 4-0 NU in 2013. I just have little confidence with this Wildcat team on offense. As bad as our offense has looked I still think NU may have the chance to win if they win the special teams, field position and turnover battle....... Yet I still think they need to do a 180 on offense in terms of efficiency and scheme to even be close to pulling off the upset. I think we see start to see stars from banging our head against the proverbial brick wall on offense with the continued head scratching power run schemes. Our defense and special teams plays strong and holds Penn State to only a handful of scoring drives off big play action passes. NU keeps it close for 3 quarters but thats about it. I'm still betting on the Cats with a +10 spread and likely +2-300 on the M/L, its worth the chance.

Penn State 20, Northwestern 13

Jon Davis

Northwestern can win this game. The stats suggest that they'll need to suppress a poor Penn State run game and manage to get off the field on third and long situations. They do give up sacks. A turnover or two to keep points off the board or turn around field position would go a long way, as well. On special teams, Penn State has an advantage in kicking, but their punting has been rather dreadful so far, as has their punt return unit. The poor punting may work to their advantage at times, though, if they decide to take shots on 3rd down and go for it on 4th. Northwestern won't win this game unless we see a radically different offense. If NU thinks they're going to do anything with their power run sets, they are mistaken. Penn State has a very good defense, but they have been a little more vulnerable to the big pass play. The return of Tony Jones will help, but everyone is going to have to perform much better than they have so far this season. That includes Siemian, who probably won't be playing at 100%. This is all unlikely, but hey, it's college football, so there is at least a chance.

Penn State 24, Northwestern 13

Mountain Tiger

Penn State has a great defense and a mediocre offense that can't run the ball. Northwestern has the same profile but is worse in every area. Any chance of the upset rests on the defense and special teams; if they can set up enough short fields, or even score on their own, the upset is a possibility. More likely, Penn State sits on the NU offense and eventually stumbles out to a comfortable lead.

Penn State 23, Northwestern 6

Herman Wang

I expect our offense to put everybody in the stadium to sleep -- fans, players, broadcasters, scoreboard operator -- and when they wake up, Northwestern is somehow ahead on the scoreboard with 0:00 remaining.

Northwestern 12, Penn State 10