After starting the season off with two lesser opponents, Auburn hosts one of the “big boys” in college football this weekend. For the first time in Auburn football history, a team from the Big Ten will be entering the hallowed halls of Jordan-Hare Stadium. The Penn State Nittany Lions are here to take on the Auburn Tigers.
You’ll remember that Penn State beat Auburn 28-20 in Happy Valley last year, with Auburn falling while attempting a last second Hail Mary. Penn State’s quarterback is returning. Auburn’s is not. Penn State’s best wide receiver is not returning. One of Auburn’s wide receivers that played a big part in that loss is not playing at another school located in the central part of Florida.
At this point in the season, neither team is as good as they were at this point last season. Auburn has taken a step back at quarterback and defensive back. Penn State has taken a big step back on defense and running back.
Penn State won last season after a very weird and timely fumble, despite having the home field advantage. Auburn has the advantage now. It isn’t a night game, but there will be plenty of time for Auburn fans to get lubed up.
Given the lackluster tailgating scene and crowd activity for the first two games, I am hopeful that many fans have been holding out of the first “big game” of the season. I’m hopeful that they will want to show Penn State that Auburn’s atmosphere trumps theirs. I am hopeful that they have used those last two weeks to rest up for a huge day on the Plains.
As far as what happens on the field, Auburn’s two quarterbacks seemingly took a step back in the first half of the win over San Jose State last week. That said, TJ Finley threw a pick that was actually a really good play by the defender, but after that was pretty solid. Robby Ashford almost somewhat became the run only quarterback of the pair. It works, but how long will that work? I don’t think it will matter against the Nittany Lions.
Penn State is not good against the run. The good thing for Auburn is that they have the best running back in the SEC, one of the best running backs in the SEC, and possibly one of the future best running backs in the SEC.
Auburn has been as much pass-heavy as they have relied on the run in the first two games of the season. It’s almost as if they knew they could use the two games to figure some things out. It’s almost as if they knew they could win the first two games while being pretty vanilla on offense and defense. It’s not as if Auburn didn’t struggle and have to try against San Jose State, but we haven’t seen everything Auburn has up their sleeves.
We haven’t seen Auburn just pound the Tank, the Quez, and the Damari. We haven’t seen a single blitz. We haven’t seen what we didn’t have to see to see Auburn win.
We will see those things against Penn State in the best atmosphere of the season. Auburn will show the world that the narrative the media has created about Harsin, the program, the BoT, the AD search, the everything is wrong.
Auburn will remind the world what Jordan-Hare does. Auburn will show that what outsiders want to be a down year is nothing of the sort. Auburn has SEC talent. Penn State does not. Auburn has home field advantage. Penn State does not.
It will be a battle, but Auburn has all the advantages. Auburn wins. Auburn jumps into the Top 25. Auburn takes a big step towards a 5-0 home stand.
Auburn 27, Penn State 21