No guest picker this week, unfortunately. We’ll try to do better.
Will Ragatz: Penn State 21, Northwestern 14
Throughout this week, my predictions have gone from very high-scoring to borderline slugfest territory. In a game that could be impacted by the weather, I think both teams will struggle to move the ball and we could see a few turnovers from each quarterback. Saquon Barkley is going to make some plays, because that’s what he does, but I think Northwestern can follow the Indiana game-plan in limiting him as a runner. The Wildcats will score a late touchdown to make this one interesting, but another strong performance from the defense will go to waste.
Noah Coffman: Penn State 34, Northwestern 14
The Wildcats might be able to hang with Penn State for a half, but a banged-up secondary won’t be able to contain Trace McSorley forever, especially if the rest of the defense is concentrated on Saquon Barkley. And if they aren’t concentrated on Barkley, well...there’s a reason he’s the frontrunner for the Heisman Trophy. Penn State’s defense is under-the-radar, but they have been great thus far in conference play and should be able to control Northwestern’s struggling offensive line. This won’t be a fun one for Wildcats fans.
Martin Oppegaard: Northwestern 30, Penn State 28
Perhaps the biggest blemish on Penn State’s resume so far has been its kicking game. This Saturday, it finally catches up to them. Senior Tyler Davis is 5-for-11 this season in field goals, including 0-for-3 on attempts between 30-39 yards. His two misses nearly cost the Nittany Lions in Iowa City, and he’ll miss a game-winning attempt in Evanston this weekend. The Cardiac ‘Cats are back.
Caleb Friedman: Penn State 38, Northwestern 20
Penn State's offense is as dynamic as any, and it will cause Northwestern problems in ways that Wisconsin did not, notably in the passing game. The unpredictable and star-studded Nittany Lion offense will force Clayton Thorson to throw a lot to try to keep pace, and, in turn, make the offensive line pass protect often, which could be a problem. The Wildcats won't get blown out on Homecoming, but it won't be that close either.
Davis Rich: Penn State 42, Northwestern 27
Last week, we saw Northwestern’s offense move the ball effectively in a comeback effort against a top-tier Wisconsin defense. That trend should continue this week, but Northwestern’s offensive line has another brutal matchup in the trenches. Clayton Thorson will have to get the ball out quick with Shareef Miller and Shaka Toney attacking from the edges. Penn State should have no problem moving the ball behind Saquon Barkley and a balanced passing attack. Solid at Ryan Field this year, Northwestern can hang with the Nittany Lions, but this Penn State team is too efficient not to cover.
Talia Hendel: Penn State 35, Northwestern 24
This is not only the Homecoming game, but also the first home game during the official Northwestern academic year, a combination which should bring out a solid attendance and create a supportive atmosphere at Ryan Field, allowing the Wildcats to put together some explosive drives like we saw a hint of last weekend at Wisconsin. However, Penn State is an undeniably strong team and is coming into this weekend 5-0. Between a third ranked scoring defense which has allowed a total of 47 points this season and an offense led by running back Saquon Barkley, who has demonstrated time and time again how big of a threat he truly is, Northwestern is going to have to step up on both ends to keep this a close a game.
Tristan Jung: Penn State 24, Northwestern 10
I’m going with the Vegas spread. Penn State escapes Northwestern with a 24-10 victory. You shouldn’t trust my predictions, however, as I am really bad at picking college football games.