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BSD Prediction Roundtable: Penn State vs. Northwestern

Expectations are high for the James Franklin and the Nittany Lions in Evanston.

NCAA Football: Northwestern at Penn State Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports


Congrats to the Wildcats for beating Minnesota last Saturday. They’ll be brought down to earth this week, however. Let’s see the defense pitch another shutout in Evanston and get the starters out by halftime, and we can all have ourselves a nice fall Saturday afternoon.

Penn State 56, Northwestern 0


Northwestern is a dumpster fire, albeit a dumpster fire that was briefly extinguished Saturday with its victory over Minnesota. With that said, I don’t think this will be as much of a dominating victory as Saturday. Drew, Nicholas, and the Fatman are too much on offense, while the defense collects two turnovers.

Penn State 38, Northwestern 7


I’m not surprised that Northwestern isn’t as bad as some people were thinking after Pat Fitzgerald got canned, but despite the two wins this season, this is still a bad team that Penn State shouldn’t have much trouble with. Despite the laid back nature of Ryan Field, I think we see a rather crisp Nittany Lion team on a seasonably warm fall day in Evanston. Drew Allar throws for three touchdowns, Nick Singleton goes for over 100 yards, and the Penn State defense gets lots of work for the backups.

Penn State 45, Northwestern 10


Northwestern likely isn’t as bad as many people think, and the comeback win over Minnesota just proves that the Wildcats can be dangerous. But there’s B1G West dangerous, and there’s B1G East dangerous, and while NW may be the former, they are definitely not the latter. Penn State is, and in 2023 the disparity between the two divisions has never been more pronounced.

I saw somewhere that people liken Penn State to an anaconda - they slowly constrict you, making it harder and harder to do anything, and any little mistake you make is immediately punished, in a slow yet inexorable process. You don’t even realize that you’re being crushed to death until you look up at the scoreboard with zeros on the clock, and realize that the Lions have put up a three-plus-score win over you. I like that, even if I wouldn’t mind seeing the occasional quick-strike big play thrown in as well.

Penn State 35, Northwestern 10


In 2017, Penn State was unbeaten and headed to Evanston for an 11 a.m. local start ahead of its bye week. The Lions overwhelmed the Wildcats, leading 10-0 at the half and 24-0 at the end of three quarters. By the end, Penn State had its backups on the field for a painless 31-7 win. It’s the exact kind of win that Penn State has patented thus far in 2023. I’m a believer in history and I think it’s a similar Saturday for the Lions this weekend. I think the Wildcats put up more yards than Iowa did (how can’t you?) and they’ll spread the ball around and get it out quick much the same way that West Virginia and Illinois tried to do. But, Penn State adjusts quickly and comes away with a turnover or two from quarterback Ben Bryant. I’m also calling my shot - Penn State comes away with at least one 50+ yard touchdown against a defense that has given up big plays and will be outathleted.

Penn State 38, Northwestern 10


Northwestern will be playing with more confidence than usual after its amazing comeback win against Minnesota last Saturday. Reality will set in after the first couple of possessions, though, when Penn State’s superior talent/depth takes over the game. I imagine this will be another grinder of a win, one where the outcome never feels truly in doubt, even if PSU is only up by two scores at halftime. I think this is the game where the offense gets a truly explosive play, either a pass play that goes deep or the receiver makes a guy miss and is off to the races, or one of Kaytron Allen/Nick Singleton rips off a 30-plus yard run. I also like the defense to continue doing their thing turnover-wise, forcing a couple of them, including a pick-six or scoop-and-score.

Lions roll into the bye week undefeated and without too many bumps and bruises.

Penn State 41, Northwestern 7


I think we will see a slow start coming off the big win over Iowa. The offense may take until the second quarter to get going, but the defense should be in shutdown mode all day. Yes, Northwestern beat Minnesota last week, but I don’t think the Gophers are really all that good this year. Penn State, however, is pretty good at football. After a fairly busy September so far, this is the calm before the storm on October 21.

Penn State 45, Northwestern 7


Northwestern isn’t as awful as I originally thought it to be. Its two losses are to a ranked Duke team and Rutgers, which is having a sneaky-good season. Ben Bryant seemed to finally settle into the starting role in the Wildcats’ comeback win over Minnesota last week, as he threw for four touchdowns and nearly 400 yards. But Penn State’s defense, as long as it shows up for an 11 a.m. kick against an inferior opponent, will smother this team.

Penn State 41, Northwestern 13

Eli (Originally Appearing in the Big Ten Preview)

The best thing that could have happened to Penn State is Northwestern beating Minnesota. With each game, the Wildcats become more and more hungry for wins, which means they’ll play with their hair on fire more and more frequently. Getting the big upset a week ago means a letdown spot for Northwestern, which means an easy cover for the Lions.

Penn State 56, Northwestern 17

Jared (Originally Appearing in the Game Preview)

Based on the way these teams match-up, I’m expecting a similar result to Penn State’s victory over Iowa, with the exception that Wildcats offense will have slightly more juice and a few tricks up their sleeve (which you could say about any offense compared the the Hawkeyes). Penn State’s defense should have little problem shutting down the run, getting pressure on Bryant, and being the 11 aggressive heat-seeking missiles who cause chaos.

Even if Northwestern follows the pattern of focusing on limiting big plays, Allar will be able to dink and dunk his way down the field, while the Allen and Singleton get things moving on the ground to keep the defense honest. This game will follow the similar pattern we’ve seen from Penn State’s three FBS contests thus far this season, helping the starters get off the field for the fourth quarter as the team heads into the bye week with a 5-0 record.

Penn State 38, Northwestern 13