Big Ten Game of the Week: Penn State’s road test at Auburn

Penn State head coach James Franklin leads his team onto the field for an NCAA college football game against Ohio , Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, in State College, Pa. (AP Photo/Barry Reeger)

It’s a bit difficult to pick one game of the week in the Big Ten this Saturday.

The traditionalists may prefer Oklahoma at Nebraska, which was must-see TV in the Big 8, but not so much in the past 40 years.

That leaves a couple of 2-0 Big Ten teams heading on the road to face 2-0 power conference opponents: Michigan State at Washington and Penn State at Auburn.

We flipped a coin and landed on this one, which gets the SEC Game of the Week treatment on CBS as well.

Let’s dive into the game and the odds from Caesars Sportsbook:

Penn State at Auburn

Time/TV: 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Auburn, Alabama, CBS

Point spread (updated odds at Caesars Sportsbook): Penn State -3

Money line: Penn State -155; Auburn +130

Over/under: 48

Analysis: Both teams are a soft 2-0. Penn State needed a borderline miraculous late drive to subdue Purdue in its opener and then took care of Ohio. Auburn has been even less convincing, snoozing past Mercer and then scraping by San Jose State.

So now the real season begins for the Tigers, whose coach, Bryan Harsin, is already on the hot seat after just one (tumultuous) season. The truth is, Auburn isn’t as bad as the score lines have made it seem: The Tigers have committed four turnovers and not received any, which is a bad way to blow out weak opponents.

Lots has been made of the Nittany Lions sticking with Sean Clifford at quarterback over ballyhooed freshman Drew Allar, who was spectacular in relief against Ohio. Clifford has actually been just fine thus far with six touchdown passes and one interception, and it’s probably the smart bet to start the veteran in an SEC road environment.

A bigger issue for Penn State may be on the defensive end. Purdue threw for more than 300 yards, and Ohio averaged a reasonable 4 yards per play, too. Again, Auburn hasn’t been quite as bad as the scores indicate because of turnovers, and if they bounce back at home, the Tigers could spring a surprise here.

Prediction: Auburn 28, Penn State 27

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Zach Ewing

Zach Ewing is the sports betting editor for The Advocate