Week five of Big Ten football is quickly approaching. Penn State is set to face the Northwestern Wildcats this Saturday. The Nittany Lions are 4-0 and currently ranked 11 on the AP Top 25 College Football Poll. The Wildcats are unranked and have a 1-3 record. With the matchup this Saturday, here is a week five preview of what to expect during the game.
The Penn State Nittany Lions have a stronger offense than some may think. While looking at what to expect in this week five preview, there are certain aspects of the offense that Penn State can take advantage of.
The Run Game
The Nittany Lions have had strong running plays in their first four games. It has been their biggest strength. The team has totaled 743 rushing yards this season and has had 11 touchdowns from running the ball. Penn State has averaged 5.4 yards per carry, the longest being for 70 yards. This makes it easier for the offense to not only consistently have positive yards, but keeps them on the field longer while wasting the clock. Possession time is important in order to give Northwestern’s offense less time to score.
The run game will be crucial this weekend. According to the NCAA’s website, Northwestern’s defense is ranked 91 when against the run. Their opponents have totaled 643 total yards and eight touchdowns from rushing plays. Penn State’s ability to run the ball with ease will benefit them against Northwestern’s defense.
The Passing Game
Quarterback Sean Clifford currently totals 890 passing yards. This is even despite being pulled out of the game due to a high lead in three of four games. The offense totals 1,115 receiving yards. With the ability to run the ball well, they are also a threat in the air. The team has ten receiving touchdowns, making the run game not the only threat this weekend.
The passing defense for Northwestern ranks at 74 according to the NCAA’s website. While this is better than their rushing defense, Penn State is still at the advantage. The Nittany Lions should be able to put up the yards, not having to rely on the run.
The defense for the Nittany Lions has been decently strong. The defense will need to step up and force turnovers against Northwestern. Penn State has had 233 total tackles and 11 sacks according to ESPN. This is the weekend for them to step up and increase those stats. While the defense has been strong, they have not truly shown off their skills yet. The team has only had four interceptions and five forced fumbles. While this is not a bad statistic, they will want to increase that to demonstrate they can stick with the other top NCAA teams. Following Northwestern, their schedule only gets stronger, facing more top ten teams.
Players To Watch
There have been many players for Penn State who have had standout plays. In this week five preview, here are the players to watch against Northwestern.
Freshman running back Nick Singleton has been a star for the Nittany Lions this year. Going against a Northwestern defense that is weak against the run, Singleton can show off this weekend. Singleton currently leads the team in rushing yards at 376, his longest being for 70 yards. This could be his chance to beat his longest and boost his average.
Junior tight end Brenten Strange is coming off a strong game last week against Central Michigan. Strange totaled two touchdowns and 42 yards in that game. Going against a weaker defense will give Penn State a chance to mix it up more. Strange has not been discussed as a top player in college football, and this can be the game the national media begins to take notice of him.
Joey Porter Jr.
Going into the season, Junior cornerback, Joey Porter Jr., was already in the discussion for being a first-round draft pick. Despite all this talk, Porter has had no turnovers this year. Porter has six pass deflections and 16 total tackles this season. Northwestern’s quarterback, Ryan Hilinski has thrown three interceptions this season and only five touchdowns. This can finally be the weekend Porter gets his interception.
The Penn State Nittany Lions are the favorites going into this matchup. Is this the week they make the top ten on the AP Top 25 Poll?
For More NFL and NCAA Football Content
Check out my latest article here and follow me on Twitter at @angelamiele811.
For More Great Football Content
Follow us on Twitter at @GridironHeroics for more great content. We appreciate you taking time to read our articles. To interact more with our community and keep up to date on the latest in Football news, JOIN OUR FREE FACEBOOK GROUP by CLICKING HERE
Pingback: Week Four Preview: NFC West - Gridiron Heroics