Nittany Lions Wire staff predictions: Penn State or Wisconsin in Week 1?

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It’s time to put up or shut-up as Penn State hits the road to take on Wisconsin in the 2021 season opener this weekend in Madison.

This is our first season covering Penn State football here at Nittany Lions Wire and we have decided to put the chips down with our individual weekly game predictions. We’ll be sharing our weekly thoughts and official score predictions every Thursday, and our records striaght-up and against the spread will be tracked for entertainment purposes only (OK, and for bragging rights… it’s always about bragging rights).

So without any further adieu, let’s go on the record.

Sam Dehring, Contributor (@Sam_Dehring68)

This is easily the most intriguing matchup in the Big Ten this week. On one side, do you have a very young Wisconsin Badgers team led by Graham Mertz at quarterback. Other than their quarterback of course, the big player to watch on the Badgers offense is running back Jalen Berger. It took the team a while to find their identity at running back last season but it looks like they finally found their guy in Berger. On defense, the main player to watch is Jack Sanborn. Sanborn has a lot of promise, but he didn’t make a lot of progression last season.

Then you have the Penn State Nittany Lions. After a disappointing 0-5 start to last season, many hope this team will bounce back after a frustrating 2020 season. The team struggled all-around last year, but there is one player on that offense that could be in for a solid game going up against a young Wisconsin Badgers secondary. His name is Jahan Dotson, who had his best season yet in 2020. On their defense, The big guy to watch, especially against the Wisconsin Badgers, is defensive tackle PJ Mustipher. He finished last season with 35 tackles and is one of the vocal leaders of this defense.

This game should be a shootout. Graham Mertz is entering his second season with the Badgers as starting quarterback, so he will have plenty under his plate. Ultimately, I think they will take this one against Penn State at home with a score of 27-17.

Kevin McGuire, Editor (@KevinOnCFB)

I think e can all agree that we have been looking forward to this game for quite a long time. And I am eager to see how quickly this Penn State offense manages to come together against a solid defense, potentially one of the best the Nittany Lions will face in 2021. What better way to get the year started, right?

While I am clearly optimistic about the outlook for the Penn State offense, I also need to see reasons to trust it before going too overboard with my expectations for this season. And after shaking off a little rust and managing to weather the storm Penn State is entering in Madison this weekend, I think we will see what this offense is all about. I’m all about second-half performance and Penn State has typically done well in that area in recent seasons. I think that is what delivers Penn State to a hard-fought road victory against a team that hasn’t lost a home opener in 25 seasons.

Penn State 26, Wisconsin 23.

David Malandra, Contributor (@DaveMReports)

I believe Penn State will win the game, 34-23, with Penn State having a defensive touchdown and a special teams touchdown. Sean Clifford will have two touchdown passes while the running backs will have over 100 yards on the ground.

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Game-by-game predictions for Penn State Nittany Lions in 2021