It will be a role reversal Saturday afternoon when No. 22 Penn State heads south to face Auburn at Jordan-Hare Stadium, the Tigers’ home in Auburn, Ala.
This is the second game in a home-and-home series between the Tigers (2-0) and Nittany Lions (2-0). Last year, it was the Tigers who were ranked 22nd and the Nittany Lions playing at home — and Penn State emerged with a 28-20 victory.
That loss has left Auburn eager for payback.
“We think we should have won the football game, for sure,” Auburn tight end John Samuel Shenker told AL.com. “That has left a sour taste in our mouths for a year now. We’ve had this one circled for a while, the guys that were here last year and seeing what we can do better to win this game this year when they come to our house.”
“I know they play in the Big Ten and it’s a lot different experience there,” linebacker Derick Hall told the Montgomery Advertiser, “but I know there’s no place like Jordan-Hare.”
The Nittany Lions are bracing for Auburn’s “Orange-out” as the crowd of more than 80,000 is being encouraged to wear orange.
“We know it’s going to be challenging,” Penn State coach James Franklin said. “We’ll show them some pictures of what the locker room looks like, what the stadium will look like. We’ll show them some videos, obviously of the ‘War Eagle’ before the game, the band. We’re going to try to prepare for it the best we possibly can but at the end of the day we still have to go out and execute it.”
After a 42-16 win over Mercer, the Tigers struggled early in their win over San Jose State at home last week. Auburn trailed 10-7 at the half before pulling out a 24-16 decision.
“Obviously, last week we had to fight that one out; we had to play a full four-quarter game, and you know, some weeks it’s like that,” Hall told AL.com. “We know this week, competition’s only going to get harder from here on out, so we have to be consistent with that approach and take it one week at a time. I think the guys are ready. We’re prepared and fired up.”
Auburn also likely presents the most difficult challenge Penn State has faced this season. The Nittany Lions opened the season with wins over Purdue and Ohio.
While Penn State has done well against the pass led by defensive backs Keaton Ellis and Joey Porter Jr., it is bracing for Auburn’s power running game. Tank Bigsby has gained 198 yards and three touchdowns on 29 carries through two games. Auburn’s 247.5 yards per game rushing ranks 14th nationally.
“This is going to be a challenge, there’s no doubt about it,” Franklin said Tuesday. “You make a mistake against this crew and it has a chance to cost you. We’re gonna have to be sound.”
Linebacker Curtis Jacobs — Penn State’s leading tackler with 11 — leads a group of linebackers that will no doubt be tested regularly. Penn State’s own running game has been led by freshman Nicholas Singleton, who has 210 rushing yards on just 20 carries.
–Field Level Media