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2023 Opponent Snapshot: Northwestern

To finish off the month of September, Penn State will travel to Evanston to play Northwestern in what will be their third Big Ten game of the season’s opening month

Ohio State v Northwestern Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Quick 2022 Recap

The 2022 season was a disaster Pat Fitzgerald and his Northwestern Wildcats. After defeating Nebraska in Ireland to start the season, Northwestern imploding and limped their way to a 1-11 season.

After scoring 31 points against the Cornhuskers, the Wildcats did not score more than 24 points the rest of the season. This included scoring in the single digits six times. There is a strong argument to be made that 2022 was the worst season of the Fitzgerald Era.

Offensive Player to Watch: QB Brendan Sullivan

Last season the Wildcats used multiple quarterbacks. However, the one who was most competent was Sullivan. He completed 74% of his passes for 589 yards, 4 touchdown and 3 interceptions. Entering his redshirt sophomore season, the Michigan native will be looked upon to lead the Wildcat offense.

Defensive Player to Watch: LB Bryce Gallagher

Dating back to Fitzgerald’s time as a player with the program it’s always felt like one thing you can count on with Northwestern defenses is good linebacker play. Bryce Gallagher is the latest example of that, coming off a season in which he had 58 tackles, 1.5 sacks, a forced fumble, and an interception. Look for Gallagher to be the best defensive player for the Wildcats this fall.

Northwestern Wins If:

Northwestern will need a lot to go their way to pull the upset. Last year in Happy Valley the Wildcats had a lot go in their favor, right down to the awful weather that helped negate the speed difference. Despite this, Penn State still won 17-7.

In order for the Wildcats to pull the upset, Penn State will likely have to commit multiple turnovers while Northwestern’s offense has maybe their best game of the season. It really is hard to see Northwestern winning this game.

Penn State Wins If:

I’m not trying to be mean. Really, I’m not. I promise! However, again, it’s hard to envision a scenario where the Nittany Lions do not win this game. They are so vastly superior to Northwestern in every area on the field, especially athlete-wise.

Just look at last year’s matchup: Penn State’s offense could not have played worse. The Nittany Lions scored just 17 points while committing 5 turnovers and 7 penalties and still won by double digits.

Unless Penn State’s offense does nothing against a pretty average Northwestern defense while the Nittany Lion defense implodes against a bad offense, the Nittany Lions should leave Evanston with an easy victory.