Penn State vs. Purdue Preview
This Saturday the Penn State Nittany Lions (5-4, 2-3 Big Ten) return to Beaver Stadium to take on the Purdue Boilermakers (1-8, 0-5 Big Ten).
By most accounts, the start to Penn State’s conference season has been underwhelming. In their Big Ten opener, the Nittany Lions lost to the Indiana Hoosiers for the first time in program history, but turned it around the next week with an upset win over then-No. 18, and previously unbeaten, Michigan. After a bye week, Penn State was blown out by Ohio State, marking the third worst loss in program history, followed by an overtime win against Illinois, a lowly team within the conference. Coming off a 24-10 loss to Minnesota last week, they look to get back on track and keep the trend of win, loss, win--- going.
On the other hand, Purdue has not won a conference game in coach Darell Hazell’s first year at the helm. Most recently, the Boilermakers lost to the Iowa Hawkeyes 38-14. Purdue has struggled to get any sort of offense going this season, averaging just 11.8 points per game. In the last four games combined, the offense has reached the end zone only twice.
Amidst the offensive struggles, one player to keep an eye is running back Akeem Hunt, who leads the team in rushing with 325 total yards for the season, and is second in receiving yards with 313 yards.
This game also will feature the only two true freshmen starting quarterbacks in the Big Ten, Penn State’s Christian Hackenberg and Purdue’s Danny Etling.
Hackenberg ranks second in the Big Ten in completions with 178, and passing yards averaging 243 per game. This season, Hackenberg has totaled 13 touchdowns and posted six 200-plus yard passing performances.
For Purdue, Etling has not seen as much success. Starting his team’s last four games, Etling comes into this weekend with more interceptions (5) than touchdowns (4). He is 75-of-156 passing for 819 yards.
On the other side of the ball, Bill O’Brien announced at his news conference Tuesday, that linebacker Ben Kline is out for the season with a torn pectoral muscle. With Kline out, Nyeem Wartman and Stephen Obeng-Agyapong are expected to see more playing time.
Penn State’s defense has struggled this year allowing 27.3 points per game ranking the Nittany Lions 71st in the country.
However, Purdue’s defense has struggled even more than Penn State’s. The Boilermakers are averaging 37.2 points allowed per game, ranking them 112th in the nation.
This will be the 17th time the two teams meet in series history. All-time against Purdue, Penn State holds a 12-3-1 record, winning the last six contests. Purdue has not defeated Penn State since 2004. Last season, Penn State defeated Purdue in West Lafayette, Ind., 34-9. The Nittany Lions are a three-touchdown favorite on Saturday.
Nicole Barros is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo Credit: (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)