Penn State vs. Wisconsin Game Predictions
The 2021 college football season is finally here and for the Penn State Nittany Lions, the start of the journey already looks tough. Similar to last season, the No. 19 ranked Nittany Lions will open up the season on the road against a tough conference opponent in Wisconsin.
The Badgers open up the season ranked No. 12 in the nation after finishing the shortened 2020 season with a 4-3 record. The team dealt with COVID-19 issues throughout the season and had three games cancelled because of it.
With a ranked Big Ten matchup set to open up a brand new college football season, let’s see how some of our CommRadio sports reporters think the game will play out.
Both teams enter this matchup after disappointing campaigns in 2020.
While Wisconsin started out it’s season 2-0, its offense stalled late in the season putting up less than 10 points three games in a row.
However, quarterback Graham Mertz returns for his redshirt sophomore season after showing some flashes last season. The Badgers defense also looks strong and could match up well against a Nittany Lion offense still figuring things out.
While Penn State finished its season on a four game winning streak, there are still question marks on both sides of the ball.
Noah Cain, Devyn Ford and Keyvone Lee will all be fighting for carries in a crowded Nittany Lion backfield and it’s unclear who will be in the lead role against Wisconsin. The Penn State defense also will need to find a way to force pressure on Mertz as they were scored on in bunches in multiple games last season.
The Nittany Lions have a ton of pressure on them in this game as last season their loss to Indiana in Week 1 pretty much derailed their season in 2020.
This game may be one of the closest of the week with both sides having an outside shot to challenge Ohio State for the Big Ten title. Playing in Madison however, will be the difference maker as Wisconsin wins a close one to open up their season right.
Prediction: Wisconsin 31, Penn State 28
Wisconsin will begin its 2021 campaign on a high note by defeating a worthy opponent in Penn State. The Nittany Lions will surely be looking to redeem themselves after the unfortunate record-breaking season last year, but will hit a bump in the road early.
Home-field advantage is the determining factor that will give the Badgers the slight edge over the Nittany Lions. There is nothing specific like an area of the field, area of the game or a specific player that will provide strength or weakness to give either side an advantage or disadvantage.
Both teams had a similar overall record last year. Penn State ended at 4-5 overall while Wisconsin finished the year at 4-3 after its Duke’s Mayo Bowl victory over Wake Forest. Each team struggled and succeeded at times, but neither had an overall performance that warrants one a decisive victory in this contest.
The quarterback position will play a role in each team’s success, but Sean Clifford and Graham Mertz have both shown improvement, much like the teams as a whole.
It is an even match, but the Camp Randall crowd will frazzle the Nittany Lions just enough to give the Badgers a narrow win.
Prediction: Wisconsin 27, Penn State 24
For the Penn State Nittany Lions, this matchup is one of the hardest Week 1 challenges in years as they travel to Camp Randall Stadium to take on the Wisconsin Badgers. Wisconsin enters the contest ranked No. 12 in the nation while Penn State sits at No. 19.
The Badgers feature a top-tier defense which is highlighted by one of the top linebacking corps in the nation led by Jack Sanborn and Leo Chenal.
The questions for Wisconsin lie on offense. Quarterback Graham Mertz has shown flashes of excellence, but was inconsistent last season completing just 56% of his passes. Tight end Jake Ferguson will look to play a big role in the passing attack for the Badgers.
As for the Nittany Lions, they look to have a bounce back season after finishing 4-5 last year.
Similar to Wisconsin, Penn State has questions at quarterback as Sean Clifford struggled mightily last year. Wide receivers Jahan Dotson and Parker Washington are looking to continue their great play and will be crucial if Penn State wants to win.
The Nittany Lion defense is led by their linebackers and secondary. Players such as Brandon Smith and Tariq Castro-Fields are the leaders of the defense. The key is if Penn State can generate pressure on Mertz they will have a good chance of winning.
The Nittany Lions do just enough to come away with a win in Camp Randall.
Prediction: Penn State 24, Wisconsin 21
Logan Bourandas is a third-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Alex Rocco is a second-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email him at email@example.com.
Neil Conley is a fourth-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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