2021 Auburn at Penn State Football

Brandon Smith (12) and Ji'Ayir (16) of Penn State tackles Tank Bigsby (4) of Auburn during football action at Beaver Stadium in State College on Saturday, September 18, 2021.

When: Noon Saturday.

Where: Beaver Stadium (106,572).

TV: Big Ten Network (Mark Followill play-by-play, Matt Millen color, Elise Menaker sideline).

2020 records: Villanova 2-2, Penn State 4-5.

2021 records: Both teams are 3-0.

Last week: Villanova beat Richmond 34-27. Penn State beat Auburn 28-20.

Series and last meeting: Penn State leads 5-3-1. Villanova won the last meeting, 20-14, Oct. 6, 1951 at Allentown High School Stadium.

That game, according to Lou Prato’s Penn State Football Encyclopedia, was moved from Shibe Park because of an anticipated World Series appearance that did not come close to materializing. The Phils finished fifth in the National League.

The game was a brutal affair that resulted in “a near-riot,’’ according to Prato.

Coach: Mark Ferrante, fifth season (24-18).

Fun fact: 1. Villanova assistant coach Ross Pennypacker, who has the baroque title of Special Teams Coordinator/Defensive Run Game Coordinator/Defensive Line Coach, played at and graduated from Millersville.

2. Penn State has two wins over ranked teams in its first three games for the first time ever.

Villanova’s best player: Fifth-year senior LB Forrest Rhyne, a pre-season FCS All-American.

Injury update: Penn State OL Sal Wormley and DT Hakeem Beamon have missed the last two games with undisclosed issues. They are considered questionable.

No injury report was found for Villanova.

Las Vegas says: Many sportsbooks are not offering a line on the game. SI Sportsbook is making Penn State a 30.5-point favorite. That line opened at -29.

Outlook/notes: Villanova played just four games last year, all in the spring.

In 2021, it has two blowouts and, last week, a 34-27 home win over Richmond. The Wildcats are ranked 11th in FCS, but third in their own Colonial Athletic Association, behind No. 3 James Madison and No. 8 Delaware.

Villanova has not yet committed a turnover.

James Franklin’s approach to these types of games, and whenever possible, is to play a lot of people. Expect to see five or six running backs, 6-8 wide receivers, a squadron of DBs, etc.

That isn’t about being sportsmanlike; recall that the Nittany Lions beat Idaho 79-7 in 2019 and Franklin was practically pulling people out of the stands to get reps.

Anyway, Villanova is very solid and well-coached, but this is a day for the Lions to work on things and ease - mentally, emotionally, and physically - into the meat of the schedule.

The only way this is competitive is if Penn State doesn’t show up, and Franklin has made prohibiting that an obsession.

Prediction: Penn State 42, Villanova 10.

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