Breaking News
More () »

Penn State hosts Northwestern in Big Ten action Saturday; here's what you need to know

The No. 11/12 Nittany Lions take on the Wildcats at 3:30 p.m. in Beaver Stadium. The game will be televised on ESPN.
Credit: AP
FILE - Penn State head coach James Franklin leads his team onto the field for their NCAA college football game against Purdue, in State College, Pa., Oct. 5, 2019. Penn State thinks it can unseat Ohio State and Michigan as the top team in the Big Ten East. Purdue believes it can win the wide open Big Ten West. Thursday night's season opener could play a big part in what happens next. (AP Photo/Barry Reeger, File)

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Penn State returns to the Big Ten portion of its schedule Saturday with a home game against Northwestern. 

The game will kick off at 3:30 p.m. on ESPN.

Here's what you need to know about the matchup, courtesy of Penn State Athletics and other sources.

Northwestern (1-3) at Penn State (4-0)

THE SERIES: This is the 20th meeting between Northwestern and Penn State. The Nittany Lions lead the all-time series 14-5. This is the first time in five seasons that the teams have met; Penn State won the last encounter 31-7 back in 2017.

Northwestern posted back-to-back wins over Penn State in 2014 and 2015. The Wildcats' other wins in the series came in 1995, 2003 and 2004.

ABOUT PENN STATE: The Nittany Lions earned their fourth straight victory with a 33-14 triumph over Central Michigan last week in their final non-conference tuneup. All of Penn State's remaining regular-season games will be against Big Ten opponents from here on out.

The Lions are idle next week before returning to action at Michigan on Oct. 15. The kickoff time from Ann Arbor has yet to be announced.

Last week, Sean Clifford threw for 217 yards and three touchdowns and added another score on the ground for the Nittany Lions, who let the Chippewas hang around for a while in the first half before putting the game away with 19 unanswered points.

Two of Clifford's TD passes went to tight end Brenton Strange, who ranks sixth among FBS tight ends with 211 receiving yards and leads Penn State with 15.1 yards per reception. His three TDs this season tie him for the team lead in that category.

Freshman RB Kaytron Allen broke the 100-yard mark for the first time in his young career, racking up 111 yards and a touchdown on on 13 carries. Fellow freshman Nicholas Singleton added 42 yards on 12 attempts.

Clifford and backup Drew Allar spread the ball around to 10 different receivers, led by Parker Washington (6-64). Mitchell Tinsley added four catches for 51 yards, and his 5-yard TD strike from Clifford opened the scoring for Penn State.

The Lions recorded two interceptions and 13 pass breakups against Central Michigan. Johnny Dixon notched his first interception at Penn State and Zakee Wheatley picked off a pass for the second-straight game. 

Penn State tallied double-digit pass breakups in a game for the second time this season, joining their 16 breakups at Purdue. The Nittany Lions lead the country with 41 pass breakups in 2022, a 16-breakups lead ahead of second.

The Lions gave up 275 passing yards, but held Central Michigan to just 88 yards on the ground, forced four turnovers, and collected two sacks.

Penn State moved up to No. 11 in the Associated Press Top 25 poll, and are ranked 12th in the USA Today Coaches Poll. 

ABOUT NORTHWESTERN: The Wildcats have lost three in a row since their season-opening 31-28 Big Ten win over Nebraska in Ireland. Last week, Northwestern fell 17-14 to Miami (Ohio). QB Ryan Hilinski threw for 232 yards and scored on a 1-yard rush, while Cam Porter added a 2-yard rushing score in a losing effort for the Wildcats. 

Coached by Pat Fitzgerald, who is now in his 17th season at the helm, Northwestern has lost three one-score games this year. In addition to their three-point loss last week, the Wildcats have fallen to Duke (31-23) and Southern Illinois (31-24). 

Northwestern has a 110-93 record under Fitzgerald, who has led the Wildcats to Big Ten West titles in 2018 and 2020. As a player in 1995, Fitzgerald led the Wildcats to the Big Ten Championship and Rose Bowl.

RB Evan Hull leads the nation averaging 181.0 all-purpose yards per game, including 92.5 rushing yards and 77.8 receiving yards per contest. 

Hilinski ranks fourth in the country (second in the Big Ten) averaging 28.5 completions per game. He also sits 16th in the nation in passing yards (1,194) and 17th in passing yards per game (298.5).

BEER SALES IN THE BEAV: Penn State will begin beer sales at Beaver Stadium for Saturday's game against Northwestern, according to a release from the university.

The decision comes one week after the school's Board of Trustees voted to approve alcohol sales within the venue.

Beer will be available throughout Beaver Stadium, except for areas near the student section.

All fans 21 years of age and older who purchase alcohol must show a government ID to get a wristband, and all IDs will be scanned to confirm they are legitimate.

Patrons can purchase a maximum of two 16-ounce beers at any one time. All beer locations will be cashless. Alcohol sales will conclude at the end of the third quarter, and alcohol is not permitted to leave the stadium.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Fans who are headed to Happy Valley Saturday can find parking information, stadium policy updates, gameday event schedules and more at Penn State's GameDay Central page.

Download the FOX43 app

Before You Leave, Check This Out