What you need to know: B1G Championship
Each week, we’ll tell you what to expect, what to keep an eye on, and when and where you can catch the Nittany Lions on fall Saturdays this season.
Need-To-Know Details: vs. Wisconsin, 8:17 p.m., broadcast on FOX.
Records: Penn State (10-2, 8-1 Big Ten), Wisconsin (10-2, 7-2 Big Ten).
Venue: Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the Indianapolis Colts; the dome boasts a capacity of 66,000.
The Overview: Well, hello there, Big Ten Championship, we weren’t expecting to see you so soon. After surpassing all expectations in a breakout season, Penn State seemingly has already won before kickoff. The Lions have notched the 22nd 10-win season in program history and will almost certainly play in a New Year’s Day bowl, even if they lose Saturday. That said, the players aren’t talking like they’re already satisfied, and James Franklin’s mantra (one of them) is that they’ll never be satisfied. That’s what Penn State fans and the community want to hear, and count on plenty of those fans traveling to Indianapolis to support the Lions — tens of thousands of fans, in fact. The University is sending 10 buses, and the pre-sale ticket allotment sold out in 15 minutes.
The Line: Penn State +2.
All-Time Series: Wisconsin leads 9-8.
Last Time They Met (2013): Penn State surprised everyone, upsetting Wisconsin 31-24 in Madison. The Lions entered the game as 24-point underdogs, so no worries about Wisconsin being a slight favorite this weekend.
Penn State Wins If: The Lions don’t wait until the second half to play to their potential.
Wisconsin Wins If: The Badgers don’t allow Trace McSorley the luxury of stepping up in the pocket.
Count On: Penn State fans taking over Indianapolis. Nittany Lion fans have gobbled up tickets for Saturday’s primetime clash. That, more than anything else, tells you how much they’ve been waiting for this moment.
Keep An Eye On: Wisconsin’s backfield. Penn State’s defense has thrived during this eight-game season winning streak, not allowing its last two opponents to score a touchdown. Wisconsin poses a considerably stronger challenge. If the Lions can cause the pocket to collapse or stunt Wisconsin’s ground game, their chances of winning increase. To do that, the defense has to find some push along the line of scrimmage.
Trivia Tidbit of The Week: Penn State finished the regular season 7-0 at home, the first home undefeated season since finishing 7-0 at home in 2008. This season represents the fifth undefeated home season in the Big Ten era (1994, 1998, 2005, 2008, 2016).
Saquon Barkley record book watch: After leaving Saturday’s game with an apparent injury, Barkley still stands 14th all-time at Penn State in rushing yardage.
*Season Record: 10-2
*Season Record Against the Spread: 7-4-1
Prediction: Penn State 31, Wisconsin 30
*HappyValley.com season predictions