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Northwestern vs. Penn State predictions: Can Nittany Lions pull off victory?

The Penn State Nittany Lions host the undefeated No. 24 Northwestern Wildcats in their Big Ten opener, hoping to beat a ranked team at home for the first time since 2008.

Bradley Leeb-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

Unlike their opponents, the Penn State Nittany Lions aren't ranked, and they aren't undefeated, but its the home team that will be favored as Penn State hosts the No. 24 Northwestern Wildcats.

Pat Fitzgerald's Northwestern squad is ranked for the first time since 2008 and has strung together five wins to open the season, including four against teams from BCS conferences. But after a dismal start, the Nittany Lions have rolled off three wins, including a dominating opening to Big Ten play last week, crushing Illinois 35-7, and as such are slight favorites.

Many of the bloggers asked to pick the winner at Black Shoe Diaries acknowledged that the Wildcats' offense, led by quarterback/wide receiver/running back Kain Colter, is the best Penn State has seen all year, but all 11 writers polled picked Penn State. Here's what Ali Soheilian had to write:

Even though Northwestern has one of the "best" offenses in the conference, they still have one of the worst defenses in the country. I think the Nittany Lions physical style on both sides of the ball will wear down this Northwestern team yet again. Look for the Lions to get on a nasty streak and to continue to impose their will in the trenches.

Although Northwestern's offense is highly-touted, the defense is in question, having given up 41 points to Syracuse and 29 last week to Indiana – teams that have combined for one win against FBS competition.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.