Purdue (1-8) at Penn State (5-4)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 16, 12 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Beaver Stadium (106,572) -- University Park, Pennsylvania. Television: Big Ten Network. Home Record: Purdue 1-5, PSU 4-1. Away Record: Purdue 0-3, PSU 0-3. Neutral Record: Purdue 0-0, PSU 1-0. Conference Record: Purdue 0-5, PSU 2-3. Series: PSU leads, 12-3-1.
GAME NOTES: The Purdue Boilermakers will pay a visit to Beaver Stadium on Saturday afternoon to tangle with the Penn State Nittany Lions in a Big Ten Conference matchup.
Purdue is 0-5 in conference play, and the team's only victory of the season came against FCS school Indiana State (20-14) back on Sept. 7. The Boilermakers have suffered six consecutive losses since then, including last week's 38-14 setback to Iowa. They'll wrap up the season with a home game against Illinois next week followed by a road tilt at Indiana.
Penn State is coming off a 24-10 loss at Minnesota and has not lost consecutive games since the 2012 squad began the season 0-2. The Nittany Lions will close out their home slate against Nebraska next week and then hit the road to face Wisconsin in the season finale. They are serving a postseason ban through 2015 as a result of sanctions imposed last July in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.
PSU owns a 12-3-1 advantage in the all-time series with the Boilermakers. The Nittany Lions have won each of the last six meetings, including last year's 34-9 decision at Ross-Ade Stadium.
This game pits the Big Ten's only two true freshman starting quarterbacks against one another in Purdue's Danny Etling and Penn State's Christian Hackenberg. Etling has started the last four games for the Boilermakers and has four touchdowns with five interceptions on the season. He is completing only 48 percent of his throws while averaging 163 passing yards per tilt. On a positive note, Etling completed 15-of-28 passes for 145 yards and a touchdown against Iowa, and for the first time in his young career he did not throw a pick. Running back Akeem Hunt is averaging 120.1 all-purpose yards per contest, sixth-best in the Big Ten. However, he is averaging only 3.5 yards per carry and 36.1 rushing yards per game, both of which lead the team.
Defensively the Boilermakers are ranked fourth in the conference against the pass, allowing 215 ypg. Safeties Anthony Brown and T. Richards lead the way with 5.7 and 5.2 tackles per game, respectively. Cornerback Ricardo Allen has accounted for three of the team's eight interceptions on the season, while defensive tackle Bruce Gaston's three sacks stand as a team-high. Purdue has not been able to generate consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks, although last week it was Iowa's ground game that caused all kinds of problems. The Hawkeyes running backs got to the second level of the Boilermaker defense time and again, as Jordan Canzeri and Damon Bullock combined for 250 rushing yards on 30 attempts (8.3 ypc).
Penn State boasts several productive options at the skill positions. Against Minnesota last week, leading rusher Bill Belton (715 yds, 5.3 ypc) lost a fumble on the game's first play from scrimmage. O'Brien then turned to last year's 1,000-yard rusher, Zach Zwinak, who gained a season-high 150 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries. It marked the eighth career 100-yard rushing day and ninth TD of the season for Zwinak, and he'll likely share the workload with Belton moving forward. Wideout Allen Robinson had seven catches for 63 yards, and he now owns the Nittany Lions' single-season receptions (77 in 2012) and receiving yards records (1,106 this season). The previous yardage mark was held by Bobby Engram 18 years ago. Robinson is the Big Ten leader in receptions (8.1 rpg) and receiving yards per game (122.9), and he ranks in the top-10 nationally in both categories. Hackenberg is second in the conference in completions (178) and passing yards (243.0 ypg).
PSU linebacker Mike Hull had a game-high nine tackles against the Golden Gophers, marking his fifth straight game with nine or more tackles. C.J. Olaniyan notched six stops, including 2.5 for loss. He now has 10.0 TFL this season, behind only teammate DaQuan Jones' 10.5. However, the Nittany Lions dug themselves an early hole as Minnesota posted touchdown drives of 96, 70 and 74 yards in the first half, including a 24-yard touchdown pass on 3rd- and-10 with 17 seconds to play until intermission. That late TD gave the Gophers a two-touchdown lead, and they went on to hold Penn State scoreless over the final 33 minutes.
Etling's debut season has not gone quite as well as Hackenberg's, although the Penn State signal-caller has a more talented supporting cast around him. Look for the Nittany Lions to score early and often in this one.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Penn State 45, Purdue 17
11/14 16:03:26 ET