Penn State Embarrasses Sloppy Auburn, Which Should Send Tigers Into Panic Mode

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AUBURN, AL – Walking into the stadium on Saturday afternoon, I heard a Penn State fan yell “We’re about to destroy your orange out,” which I should’ve taken more seriously. Not only did the Nittany Lions handle their business, but they did it in impressive fashion, 41-12. Now, the talk of Bryan Harsin’s job status after this season will only heat up.

After seeing this Auburn team struggle against San Jose State last week, one would think the coaching staff would find ways to fix this offense. But thanks to a ferocious Penn State defense, the Tigers barely had any time to get off a decent-looking play.

Auburn started with some tenacity, including this monster hit on Sean Clifford, but it didn’t last. (Todd Van Emst / AU Athletics)

But this has become a trend under Bryan Harsin, especially when they could use a big win to rejuvenate the football program. Now, another loss and bad outing has the Tigers fan base wondering what’s next. It’s most certainly not TJ Finley sitting in the pocket and trying to pick apart a secondary, which Auburn tried way too many times. The awkward QB rotation didn’t help either, as Robby Ashford would see action on the first series.

The fact that Sean Clifford returned to the game after this hit, then led his team to a touchdown, shows us how tough this Penn State QB is.

But this was about what Penn State accomplished against the Tigers offensive line, recording five sacks throughout the game, leaving Auburn fans wondering how they could be this bad. It’s actually pretty simple: these Tigers aren’t very good, especially when Tank Bigsby can’t get up the field. Auburn also turned the ball over four times in the contest.

As for James Franklin, this was a shot in the arm that his team can build upon over the next few weeks. Nick Singleton had touchdown runs of 54 and 53 yards against this rough-looking Auburn defense, finishing with 124 yards rushing.

This was the first time a Big Ten team has played at Auburn and they set the tone for future matchups. Sean Clifford is now the 2nd leading passer in Penn State history, throwing for 178 yards this afternoon, which might look mediocre to some, but you have to know how James Franklin runs his offense to appreciate it. The Nittany Lions are going to try and beat you on the ground until they have to hit you through the air, which worked out well against Auburn, as the Nittany Lions rushed for over 200 yards and five touchdowns.

AUBURN, ALABAMA – SEPTEMBER 17: Running back Kaytron Allen #13 of the Penn State Nittany Lions celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the first half of their game against the Auburn Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium on September 17, 2022 in Auburn, Alabama. (Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images)

All of the chatter entering this game was centered around which coach needed this win more, Bryan Harsin or James Franklin. It was always Franklin for me, as I didn’t see a way Harsin would survive at Auburn in the long term. After a plethora of fans headed for the exits at the end of the third quarter, one has to wonder where the Tigers go from here. The fans seem to be over the nonsense they witnessed on Saturday and with a new athletic director coming in, it would seem reasonable to think a new coach will follow him or her.

But it’s mind boggling to see how far Auburn continues to fall. The schedule doesn’t get any easier over the next month. The Tigers will play Missouri, LSU, Georgia, Ole Miss, Arkansas and Mississippi State, before playing Alabama. Good luck with that, because I can only find one win during this stretch and Missouri will still be a fight next week.

Penn State looked incredible on the road at Auburn.
Courtesy of Penn State Athletics

As the “WE ARE” chants were getting louder from the Penn State sections of the stadium, the Auburn fans were trying to find the quickest route to their cars. The noise created from the over 10,000 fans in white who traveled a long distance to see this win, drowned out the cuss words you most likely were hearing from Auburn fans.

As the minutes ticked off in the fourth quarter, James Franklin was comfortable enough to put in the backup quarterback Drew Allar, on the road in the SEC. If you wanted a sign that this game wasn’t remotely close, this was it.

Now the question for Auburn is where do they go from here and how do they respond next week. I most certainly would give Robby Ashford a better look at quarterback, but there are way too many problems to write about today.

The ‘Orange Out’ didn’t work, but the ‘White Out’ was in full force today on the Plains.

Written by Trey Wallace

Trey Wallace is the host of The Trey Wallace Podcast that focuses on a mixture of sports, culture, entertainment along with his perspective on everything from College Football to the College World Series.

Wallace has been covering college sports for 15 years, starting off while attending the University of South Alabama. He’s broken some of the biggest college stories including the Florida football “Credit Card Scandal” along with the firing of Jim McElwin and Kevin Sumlin. Wallace also broke one of the biggest stories in college football in 2020 around the NCAA investigation into recruiting violations against Tennessee football head coach Jeremy Pruitt.

Wallace also appears on radio across seven different states breaking down that latest news in college sports.

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