This game has all the characteristics of a trap game, a lazy, noon kickoff sandwiched between two big primetime games. If Purdue wasn't missing so many key components, an upset wouldn’t completely unexpected. That said, it still may end up closer than it may appear on paper (or Purdue might just be so compromised, it gets really ugly). The biggest key with such a young team is to keep them focused for games like this, because we still don’t know what this team can consistently be yet.
Penn State 52, Purdue 13
At the start of the season I viewed Purdue with some trepidation. They were entering a rebuilding year, sure, but an offense featuring Rondale Moore would be a handful no matter what. I figured the Lions would win, but it might end up a shootout. Something like 42-35.
Now? The Boilermakers have been bitten hard by the injury bug, including Moore and starting QB Sindelar. I’m worried Purdue may struggle to gain any meaningful yardage, let alone keep pace with PSU. I’ll take Penn State going away, one last tune-up before the 3-game stretch that will define this season begins.
Penn State 42, Purdue 14
Purdue is a walking M.A.S.H. unit right now. Even if they were not, Penn State would still be a the far superior team. Factor in this game being at Beaver Stadium and the deck is stacked greatly in favor of the Nittany Lions.
With the game being scheduled for a noon kick and iffy weather being in the forecast, a slow start would not be a total surprise. But with Purdue missing their starting quarterback, as well as their Hesiman caliber play maker the Boilermaker offense will not do much on Saturday. Penn State’s offense - especially quarterback Sean Clifford - appeared to start to turn a corner against Maryland and the offense should have a big day again on Saturday, even if they start slow.
Penn State 42, Purdue 10
This was one of two trendy upset picks before the season started. At the time, most assumed that the cumulative departures of Joe Moorhead, Saquon Barkley, Mike Gesicki, and Trace McSorley would be too much to bear for a Penn State team that really depended on those folks in order to be any good (right Joel Klatt?). As it turns out, it was James Franklin himself who turned the program around, and they’ve shown so far that they’ll be just fine thank you very much. Penn State moves to 5-0 before the schedule gets really interesting.
Penn State 56, Purdue 17
Prior to the start of the season, I thought this would make for an interesting game with Penn State possibly being in danger of dropping a Homecoming game. After four games though, it’s clear that Penn State is playing at a different level than Purdue. For the Nittany Lions, many of the new faces have arrived in a big way. The Boilermakers, on the other hand, clearly have a longer rebuilding year than expected a year after receiving plenty of hype for pulling off the upset of the year by steamrolling Ohio State.
On top of Purdue not being quite as good as expected, things are looking even worse for their chances on Saturday thanks to some key injuries. Not only will the Boilermakers have to rely on a freshman quarterback, they’ll also be without their primary playmaker that they rely on to make the offense (and special teams) go.
The key for the Nittany Lions is to jump out to a fast start, just like they did on Friday against Maryland. If they can jump out to an early 14-0 lead, Purdue will need to rely on Plummer to somehow have a strong outing against one of the nation’s best defenses with 107,000 screaming fans making things very difficult for him. If the Nittany Lions defense can pin their ears back and go after him, it’s going to be a long and painful afternoon for the Boilermakers offense with very little production.
Sean Clifford has another big outing, tossing for 340 yards and three touchdowns. K.J. Hamler has another long catch-and-run to get the Beaver Stadium crowd going, and Pat Freiermuth comes up with a couple scores of his own. On defense, Micah Parsons takes advantage of his unexpected time off to come in fresh and raise hell, getting a strip sack and 10 tackles, with John Reid and Garrett Taylor each picking off a pass. The good guys roll an a beautiful Homecoming afternoon.
Penn State 45, Purdue 10