Auburn vs Penn State Preview

Auburn vs Penn State

This Saturday will be the return match-up between the Penn State Nittany Lions and the Auburn Tigers. The two programs met early last season in Happy Valley where Penn State won 28-20. This time around it will be the Tigers’ turn to be the home team, and there is expected to be a lot of orange at Jordan Hare Stadium. The fans will not be the only ones in orange though. The football team will once again have orange facemasks, and there has been chatter of orange jerseys too. Auburn has not worn that color jersey since 1980 when coached by Doug Barfield. When he was fired after five seasons on the plains, those were never seen again. Many Auburn players are for the alternative look, and even head coach Bryan Harsin is not against it. Whichever color the Tigers wear it will be a tough game knocking off the 22nd-ranked Nittany Lions. The game will be a 2:30 p.m. Central kick-off on CBS.

Auburn vs Penn State Preview

Auburn Defense

The Nittany Lions return quarterback Sean Clifford who seems to have been in college football for decades. The 24-year-old senior has been on campus since 2017 and had a big game last season against the Tigers. In the win, he was 28 for 32 for 280 yards and two touchdowns. Receiver Jahan Dotson was a big problem for the Tigers, but good for them he is now in the NFL. The new top target for Clifford early on seems to be Mitchell Tinsley. The Western Kentucky transfer leads the team with 10 receptions for 111 yards and two touchdowns. The offensive line struggled last season, and Penn State did not a have single 100-yard rusher. Against Ohio in their last game, Nicholas Singleton ended that trend rushing for 179 yards and two touchdowns. Ohio is not Auburn though.

vs Penn State Offense

Auburn did a good job last season in stopping the run despite the loss. Some of the key contributors are back for the Tigers that helped keep Penn State to 84 yards on the ground. Against Mercer and San Jose State, they have given up a total of 128 yards on the ground. The unit up front is led by pass rushers Derick Hall, Eku Leota, and Colby Wooden with help from Marcus Harris in the middle. Linebackers Cam Riley and Owen Pappoe lead the team in tackles, but overall, Auburn has not had a lot of success getting to the passer. Through the first two games, they have only totaled four sacks. They will need to do better with that on Saturday because against San Jose State the secondary had some issues. The Spartans passed for 275 yards, and in the prior week, Mercer made some plays through the air.

Auburn Offense vs

Another week, the same question remains for the Auburn Tigers offense. What is up with the quarterback position? They seem to be in the same spot they were going into the San Jose State game. Both T.J. Finley and Robby Ashford should both see the field again, but they will need to be better. Finley has thrown three interceptions thus far on the season. Ashford has shown great athletic ability but also has shown he has a way to go as a developed passer. Auburn will need to lean on the run game to be successful against the Penn State defense. That was something they were able to do last year rushing for 182 yards behind Tank Bigsby and Jarquez Hunter. Bigsby led the way with 102 yards and two touchdowns, but Hunter was electric with 63 yards. Add in the read-option with Ashford, Auburn can cause problems for the Nittany Lions in the run game.

Penn State Defense

Penn State does have some stars on the defensive side just like the Tigers. They are giving up 20.5 points per game in the early season and have been solid against the run allowing just 80.5 yards per game. That number though could be misleading by playing pass-happy Purdue in the opener, and Ohio last week. Through two games the leading tackler is Curtis Jacobs with 11, and behind him is safety Ji’Ayir Brown with ten. Those two should be seen a lot trying to stiffen the Auburn rush attack. Penn State has solid performers in the secondary despite giving up 264.5 yards per game passing. Again, they did play Purdue and Aidan O’Connell in the opener. Along with Brown are cornerbacks Joey Porter Jr. and Johnny Dixon who has two sacks on the season. The group is yet to intercept a pass, and that is good news for Auburn. With the attention that is sure to be given to Bigsby and Hunter, this might be a good opportunity to make some plays passing using the play-action. Both Finley and Ashford have the ability, but making the correct decisions will be key.