Each week, we’ll tell you what to expect, what to keep an eye on, and where and when you can catch the Nittany Lions on fall Saturdays this season.
Game details: No. 12/11 Penn State vs. Purdue, noon kickoff, broadcast on ESPN.
Venue: Beaver Stadium, where Penn State boasts an all-time record of 293-74.
Weather forecast (via AccuWeather): High of 60 degrees with plenty of sunshine.
The line: Penn State – 28.5
Last week: Penn State dominated Maryland 59-0, while Purdue dropped a home contest to Minnesota 38-31.
All-time series: Penn State leads 14-3-1.
Last meeting (2016): Penn State blasted Purdue 62-24 in West Lafayette, overcoming a sluggish first half to earn the convincing win. This game is also noteworthy since it came right after the Nittany Lions’ upset of No. 2 Ohio State, setting up Penn State’s run to a Big Ten title and the Rose Bowl.
Throwback classic (2004): The White Out is now widely regarded as one of the best environments in college football, and perhaps all of sports. But back in 2004, it was a novelty, with the student section wearing all white for the first time during a 20-13 loss to undefeated ninth-ranked Purdue (the first stadium-wide White Out came years later).
Overview: Win Saturday, and Penn State sets itself up for a highly compelling four-game stretch against Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, and Minnesota — the Golden Gophers have started the season 4-0. More immediate, the Boilermakers enter this weekend with a disappointing 1-3 mark, and head coach Jeff Brohm announced earlier in the week that star wide receiver Rondale Moore will be out after suffering an injury last weekend. Without him, it’s difficult to see Purdue scoring 30-plus points, a mark that Penn State should surpass; the Nittany Lions are averaging 50 per game so far this year. Purdue quarterback Elijah Sindelar will also sit out after being injured on the same play as Moore, so the Boilermakers need a whole lot to go right for them to pull off an upset on Homecoming weekend in Happy Valley.
Penn State wins if: the defense continues to create mayhem. Penn State’s given up only 30 points through four games, and with the offense having the potential to 40-plus seemingly every week, even a workmanlike performance Saturday should be enough to keep Penn State unbeaten.
Purdue wins if: the Boilermakers can make Sean Clifford uncomfortable. For as much as success as Clifford (and the offense) has had this year, he did look rattled, at times, when Pitt pressured him last month. Purdue clearly can’t win a shootout, so the Boilers’ best chance is to grind out the clock and limit Clifford’s opportunities when the Nittany Lions have the ball.
Keep an eye on: Penn State’s third down success. Last week, the Nittany Lions converted its first seven third down opportunities and finished 9-of-13.
Trivia tidbit: Thirteen Nittany Lions caught at least one reception last week against Maryland, the second time Penn State receivers have hit that mark (Idaho).
John Patishnock: Penn State 45, Purdue 14
Vincent Lungaro: Penn State 41, Purdue 10