Penn State Nittany Lions vs. Northwestern Wildcats
Date and Time: Saturday, October 7, 2017, 12 p.m. ET
Location: Ryan Field, Evanston, IL
Opening College Football Odds: Penn State -14
Penn State vs. Northwestern TV Coverage: ABC
What more does anyone need to see out of Penn State at this point? The Nittany Lions are 5-0 SU and 4-1 ATS, and outside of that aforementioned road trip at Iowa, they haven't been challenged. Granted, their schedule hasn't been the toughest, but all of this will work itself out with games against Michigan and Ohio State coming up.
In the interim, we're talking about a team that has put at least 33 points on the board in four of its five games, has posted two shutouts and has yet to allow more than 19 to an opponent this year.
James Franklin should be in serious consideration once again for Big Ten Coach of the Year honors, and he's got his Nittany Lions on track to at least challenge for a spot in the New Year's Six, if not the CFP.
This Northwestern team can play, though. The 41-17 loss to Duke aside, the Wildcats have acquitted themselves well this year. They'll probably lose this game and drop to 2-3, but if they do, they'll be the most dangerous 2-3 team in America for sure.
Just ask Wisconsin what it thinks of this Northwestern side. The Wildcats hung in there in the first half and led at the intermission, and even after a poor third quarter, they still had some fighting spirit left in them at Camp Randall. The Badgers won 33-24, but that game was always going to be covered.
This is a veteran squad and one that has some great leaders on offense in Clayton Thorson and Justin Jackson. Jackson has been bottled up for the most part this year with 273 yards on 64 carries, but he's set to become the school's all-time rushing leader for a reason and is capable of busting out in any given game.
All of a sudden, Saquon Barkley has emerged as the favorite to win the Heisman Trophy and is being given some tremendous accolades.
"Maybe the best player I've ever seen on tape," said Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald. "Played against some pretty good backs, coached against some pretty good backs, but he's absolutely spectacular."
Barkley has 574 yards on the ground of 86 carries this year, and he leads Penn State in receiving with 27 catches and 386 yards. He's already had a run of 80 yards and a reception for 85 yards this year, and there's no such thing as tackling him one-on-one in the open field with as well as he's playing.
If Northwestern can't figure out how to put a hat on Barkley quickly when he gets the ball in his hands, there's a chance that the Heisman favorite puts on yet another tremendous show.
Penn State vs. Northwestern Free Picks
We were all over Northwestern and the points last week at the Bounce House, and we're going to do the same thing here at home against one of the top five teams in America. This game isn't beyond the Wildcats, just like it wasn't beyond a comparable Iowa team to do the same thing to Penn State.
For as much as we love what the Nittany Lions are doing, we still don't think they're without flaws. Their offense is too much of a one-man show, and when Barkley isn't creating those huge plays, we're not all that sure he's as good as he's cracked up to be.
Penn State is becoming just overrated enough in the eyes of the best online sportsbooks for us to rev up the fade train.
College Football ATS Pick: Northwestern +14 at BookMaker.eu
College Football Score Prediction: Penn State 27, Northwestern 14