Sports

2012 College Football Week 6 Preview: Penn State vs. Northwestern

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The members of the Blue White Roundtable have once again assembled to share our opinions on the Penn State football team as they prepare for Northwestern. As per usual, be sure to stop by our friends at Black Shoe Diaries later for a full roundup.

1. Some pundits are calling the Nittany Lions the hottest team in the Big Ten after the last three weeks. Do you agree? Can this team win the Leaders Division title? Is this team we saw against Illinois a finished product?

I don't know if I would necessarily agree that Penn State is the hottest team in the Big Ten, but I will say they may be the only team that has shown week-to-week improvement in the Big Ten. The question I have is just how much more improvement is there to be made? When does this team hit their ceiling? More importantly, have they hit their ceiling?

This team, right now, can absolutely win the Leaders Division because the schedule plays in to their favor. Penn State has a couple of interesting road games at Nebraska and Purdue but they get Ohio State and Wisconsin at home, and that could be huge. Right now Ohio State appears to be the team to beat in the Leaders Division but if Penn State continues to play defense the way they are now then playing at home could give them an edge against a sophomore (a very good sophomore) quarterback in Braxton Miller. And we'll see what Wisconsin looks like at the end of the season.

2. Over the last decade, Penn State has produced All-American linebackers in Paul Posluszny, Dan Connor, Sean Lee, and Navorro Bowman. It has turned Tim Shaw and Josh Hull into pros, and gotten solid contributions from Tyrell Sales and Bani Gbadyu. Where does Michael Mauti fall on the spectrum?

I think you have to put Mauti among the top tier when it comes to how they have played at Penn State. Unfortunately a pair of knee surgeries could mean his NFL Draft stock has taken a huge dip, but the way he has been playing this season has been one of the legitimate positives to come out of Penn State so far, without question.

3. Northwestern is 5-0 and Kain Colter looks like an unstoppable "slash" player. Is this the best offense Penn State has seen this year?  How do the Nittany Lions contain it?

They are the best offense Penn State has faced so far this season, but let's pump the brakes on 5-0 Northwestern for a moment. They have not exactly played a touch schedule and we have seen before Penn State can find ways to clamp down on threatening Northwestern quarterbacks. Will Colter make some big plays? Absolutely, but what Penn State needs to do is plug any openings Colter can find to wiggle through. Northwestern may be the best offense Penn State has faced so far this season, but Pen State clearly has the best defense Northwestern has seen so far as well.

4. Predictions?

I really don't think Penn State has too much of a problem with Northwestern this week. I expect that the first half will be tight, as they have been each of the last few seasons, but Penn State still has the edge when it comes to physicality and athleticism and they should be able slow down the Wildcats and hold them off in the second half.

Penn State 31, Northwestern 17

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