Auburn vs. Penn State College Football Week 3 Picks and Odds Analysis

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By: Dakota Cox

We are two weeks into the college football season, and both the Auburn Tigers and Penn State Nittany Lions have had better starts than they did last year. Can Auburn upset the Nittany Lions? Let’s see what top bookmakers think.

Auburn Tigers vs. Penn State Nittany Lions​

Saturday, September 18, 2021 – 07:30 PM EDT at Beaver Stadium

All Odds for this Matchup

In 2020, Penn State was seen as an outside contender to win the Big Ten and reach the College Football Playoff. Instead, they suffered a devastating loss after devastating loss. Auburn saw too many losses from Gus Malzahn and decided to make a change of head coach.

In 2021, both teams remain undefeated. Auburn hasn’t been tested, but they’ve dominated against inferior opponents. Penn State had an opening test against Wisconsin, and they passed with a win.

This battle of unbeaten teams could be used to determine the strength of each conference later down the line, so this outcome matters. Both teams are undefeated against the spread, so something will have to give in this game. Right now, the Nittany Lions are favored by 6 points as the home team. Here are keys for each team to win and a prediction for how the game will play out.

Keys for Penn State to Cover the Spread​

Sean Clifford hasn’t yet had to win the game by himself. Against Wisconsin, the balance of the offense and the smothering defense carried the Nittany Lions to victory. Ideally, that would be the case in this game. However, expect Auburn to put points on the board. They are a potent offense, and they know that this is a pivotal game for them.

Clifford will have to respond with points on the board. When Auburn scores, Penn State will have to score with them. That means that Clifford needs to take smart risks with the football. He has to trust himself to make the deep throws, and he has to execute when he takes those risks.

On defense, Penn State needs to win the turnover battle. Bo Nix is known to make mistakes with the ball in his hands, but he can also light up the box score. He has too much variance, and Penn State needs to ensure they hit the lower part of his spectrum of production.

Penn State can rely on a strong home presence, so we’ll see how that impacts this game as well.

Keys for Auburn to Upset the Nittany Lions​

Auburn has an experienced quarterback who can extend plays with his legs. Whenever Penn State runs man defense, watch out for Bo Nix to scramble and get the first down. This will be crucial if the Tigers want to win this game outright. It stretches the defense and makes everything else easier. It also puts Nix in a rhythm, something he hasn’t had in the past.

To wear down the defensive front, Auburn will also have to run the ball with Tank Bigsby. Bigsby is one of the most underrated backs in college football, and he’s a bruiser between the tackles. If he gets in a rhythm, the Tiges could pull off the upset.

With so many dynamic threats, Auburn has to win the red zone. They can run with Bigsby. Bo Nix can use his legs. He’s capable of making a throw on a bootleg. Everything the Tigers do works in the red zone, and this will be what truly determines the game.

However, this isn’t a guarantee. Penn State is favored for a reason. What is the best pick for this game?

Time for a Prediction​

Auburn is a high-variance team. They haven’t truly been tested yet, and that is worrisome. However, their offense looks potent. With the way college football has adapted, it is crucial to have an elite offense.

The Tigers will struggle with the crowd, but that is not enough to keep them from pulling off an upset. In fact, I believe Auburn will come away with a win this weekend. They’re healthy, and they have an experienced offense that won’t bow down to the situation. This team has won tough games in the past, and this will be another win for the Tigers.

Still, I’m predicting Auburn to cover the spread. The moneyline is interesting, but I prefer the value of the spread.

NCAAF Pick: Auburn +6.5 (-108) at Heritage Sports (visit our Heritage Sports Review)
 
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