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Know Your Foe: Penn State vs. Purdue Boilermakers

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The Boilermakers roll into Happy Valley beaten and battered.

TCU v Purdue Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Purdue University

Location: West Lafayette, Indiana

Enrollment: 41,573

Purdue Football Facts:

Home Stadium: Ross-Ade Stadium

Head Coach: Jeff Brohm, 3rd season, 14-16 (44-26 in his career)

Conference: Big Ten

Conference Titles: 12

Bowl Record: 10-9

Series History

Saturday afternoon’s matchup between the Nittany Lions and the the Boilermakers will be the ninth matchup all-time between the two programs. In their previous 18 matchups, the Nittany Lions hold a 14-3-1 record.

The first matchup between the two programs dates back all the way to 1951 when the Boilermakers defeated Rip Engle’s Nittany Lions 28-0. The two programs would meet again in 1952 when the two teams played to a 20-20 tie. After their 1952 meeting, the two wouldn’t play each other again until 1995 when the Nittany Lions defeated the Boilermakers 26-23.

Following that 1995 matchup, the two programs have met another 14 times with the Nittany Lions winning 12 of 14 matchups. They have, however, come out on top in each of the last eight matchups with the last one coming in 2016.

Last Season (6-7, 5-4)

In 2018, the Purdue Boilermakers finished the regular season with a 6-6 record but were still able to find themselves at the No.2 spot in the Big Ten West at the end of the season. The Boilermakers started the season off in slow fashion, losing each of their first three games including a loss at home to Eastern Michigan.

They would win four straight following that three game losing streak including their shocking upset of Ohio State 49-20. They would finish the regular season with an up-and-down stretch, going 2-3 in their last five games.

In the postseason, they would take on Auburn in the Music City Bowl but would stand no chance as Auburn would get out to a quick lead and eventually run away with a 63-14 victory over the Boilermakers.

Recruiting and offseason

Purdue’s 2019 recruiting class ranked 31st in the country and seventh in the Big Ten by 247Sports. Comparatively, Penn State’s class ranked 12th in the nation and second in the Big Ten.

What they did last week: 38-31 loss to Minnesota

Last week was not kind to the Boilermakers as they fell behind early to the Gophers and also saw quarterback Elijah Sindelar and wide receiver Rondale Moore both go down with injuries that will keep them out of this week’s upcoming game. The Gophers were able to scratch back into the game late with 14-fourth quarter points that made a once 38-17 game, a closer 38-31 loss for the Gophers.

Injuries Piling Up

Through the Boilermakers first four games of the season, injuries have quickly piled up and have made life difficult for head coach Jeff Brohm. As of Tuesday, the Boilermakers have six players out with injuries including quarterback Elijah Sindelar and wide receiver Rondale Moore.

Offense

Through their first four games, the Purdue offense is averaging 29.2 points per game and 420-yards of total offense. They have been significantly better through the air as well with 351 of their 420-yards of offense weekly coming through the air. On the ground, they’re averaging less than 70-yards per game, making the Boilermakers a highly one-dimensional offense.

As noted above, the Boilermakers will be without quarterback Elijah Sindelar which means the Boilermakers will have to turn to redshirt freshman Jack Plummer. Plummer so far in 2019 has completed 36-of-70 passing attempts for 426-yards, and three touchdowns. That being said, he’s also thrown four interceptions in his 70 passing attempts, including two this past weekend against Minnesota.

With Rondale Moore out with an injury, Sindelar’s top target on Saturday will be former Penn State target David Bell. Bell in his true freshman season has caught 14 passes for 244-yards and one touchdown. Fellow freshman, wide receier Amad Anderson Jr is also off to a solid start in his career with 14 receptions for 193-yards and one touchdown. Senior tight end Bryce Hopkins will be another top target with 13 receptions for 202-yards and three touchdowns on the season.

While the Boilermakers haven’t been successful running the ball, they’ve had two running backs this season split most of their carries. Freshman back King Doerue has 37 carries on the season for 131-yards and two touchdowns. Sophomore Alexander Horvath has been the other main back for the Boilermakers with 32 carries for 92-yards.

The Boilermakers probably won’t change too much of their offense this upcoming weekend but it wouldn’t be shocking if they looked to try to establish the run more against the Nittany Lions now that they’re without both Sindelar and Moore for the foreseeable future.

Defense

Defensively, the Boilermakers this season have struggled by allowing 32.5 points per game. Opposing offenses have been able to take advantage of the Boilermakers through the air by throwing for 296.5 yards per game. On the ground, offenses have been able to successfully run the ball quite a bit as well with 154.5 yards per game. The Boilermakers have struggled in forcing turnovers as well with just two turnovers on the entire season.

The Boilermakers top defensive player this season has been graduate transfer Ben Holt who was previously with the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers. Holt through four games this season has 44 tackles including 2.0 tackles for a loss and one sack. Former high-four star defensive end George Karlaftis is also off to a good start defensively for the Boilermakers with 19 tackles, five tackles for a loss, and three sacks.

Overall, the Boilermakers defense hasn’t been too overpowering this season and should be a defense the Nittany Lions have great success against, similar to last week in their 59-0 over Maryland.

Special Teams

On special teams, the Boilermakers will most likely turn to TJ Sheffield and Darius Pittman to return kicks with usually returner Rondal Moore out. Moore so far this season had nine returns for 151-yards. He also has five punt returns for 36-yards.

Kicking wise, Purdue’s place kicker J.D Dillinger has started the season hot going 15-of-15 on extra points and 4-of-5 on field goal attempts. Purdue has used three different punters so far with Brooks Cormier leading the way with 17 punts. The freshman punter is averaging a decent 42.2 yards per punt this season.