2011 Predictions & Game Story
Week 7 - Purdue at Penn State
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Oct. 15 at Penn State 23 … Purdue 18
CFN Analysis: The defense had carried the team all season long, but it feel stunningly flat this week as it struggled way too much with a pedestrian Purdue offense. Fortunately, the Boilermaker special teams miscues and the running of Silas Redd were enough to get out with a sluggish win. The coaching staff continues to play Rob Bolden, but with few results as the struggling sophomore completed just 2-of-5 passes for 40 yards, while Matt McGloin wasn’t much better completing 8-of-17 passes for 145 yards with a pick. The Nittany Lions are 6-1 with the lone loss coming to Alabama, and now with Northwestern up next before getting Illinois and Nebraska at home, the season is about to get really interesting. The defense has to be a brick wall from here on to beat any of the better teams on the slate.
Purdue had its chances, but the passing game never clicked and missed kicks were costly, but basically, it was a loss in a relatively dead even game. Purdue has now followed each win with a loss to get to 3-3 – Illinois is up next – but to go on any sort of a run, the passing game has to be better. Penn State’s defense is great, and Caleb TerBush threw for 162 yards with a touchdown and two picks, but it was Ralph Bolden and Akeem Shavers running that paced the offense. Three interceptions were a problem, but the defense was able to make up for most of the mistakes until the final pick, but going forward, winning the turnover margin is going to be a must if the quarterback play isn’t going to be consistent. If nothing else, TerBush and Robert Marve can’t turn the ball over.
(AP) STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Silas Redd ran for 131 yards and a touchdown and Penn State took advantage of Purdue's special teams miscues to hold on Saturday for a 23-18 win.
Akeem Shavers had a 1-yard touchdown run with 8:08 left but Purdue was stopped on a 2-point conversion attempt to keep the deficit at 20-18. A missed field goal and extra-point attempt earlier in the game also haunted Purdue (3-3, 1-1 Big Ten) on a windy afternoon.
Chaz Powell returned the ensuing kickoff 92 yards to the 3, but an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty pushed Penn State (6-1, 3-0) back, and the Nittany Lions settled for field goal with 6:24 left and a five-point lead.
Nate Stupar's interception of a tipped pass at the Purdue 19 with 1:59 left finally sealed the game for Penn State.
The homecoming weekend crowd breathed a collective sigh of relief following an otherwise uncharacteristically porous performance for the defense. Behind a strong running game, Purdue gashed Penn State for 344 yards -- roughly 90 more than the Nittany Lions' season average entering the day.
Coach Joe Paterno's worries of a letdown following an emotional 13-3 win last week over Iowa nearly came true. Still recovering from an injured right shoulder and pelvis suffered after getting bowled over in practice Aug. 7, Paterno coached from the press box.
Besides Redd (28 carries), the two-quarterback offense moved the ball sporadically, while the defense came up with three interceptions to hold off the Boilermakers.
Anthony Fera's 69-yard punt to the 2 put Purdue in a tough spot for a potential game-winning drive with 2:36 left. Forced to go for it on fourth down, a tipped pass from Caleb TerBush was snagged by Stupar for the linebacker's second pick of the day.
TerBush finished 12 of 25 passing for 162 yards with two interceptions, while Ralph Bolden led the Boilermakers' ground game with 97 yards for 13 carries. Shavers added 54 yards on 13 carries.
The former pass-happy school has found success this season with a run-first mentality. It was nearly enough to give Coach Danny Hope's crew its first victory over the Nittany Lions since a 20-13 win in 2004.
Good call by Hope, too, to run the ball given winds at Beaver Stadium that had hot dog and candy wrappers swirling all over the field all day.
But the Boilermakers couldn't contain Penn State's own running game. Redd scored from 9 yards out with 2:37 in the third on a bruising run, backing over a defender and bowling him over at the goal line for the touchdown.
Devon Still and the Nittany Lions front line turned up the heat in the red zone to hold Purdue to two first-half field goals by Carson Wiggs, who otherwise struggled on the afternoon. He missed a 44-yard field goal, and his extra-point attempt following O.J. Ross' 14-yard touchdown catch banged off the right upright with 4:02 in the third quarter.
Under pressure, Purdue's other quarterback, Robert Marve threw a wobbly pass intercepted by Stupar -- his first pick -- and returned 24 yards with 14 seconds left in the first half, helping to set up Fera's 29-yard field goal for a 10-6 lead.
Fera hit again from 29 following Powell's long return in the fourth quarter.
Purdue (3-2) at Penn State (5-1) Oct. 15, 12:00, BTN
Here’s The Deal … Penn State really is 5-1 and really is in the thick of the Big Ten title chase. The Nittany Lions don’t have much offensive pop and the special teams have been lousy, but the defense has been phenomenal and the schedule has been just light enough to start up with a strong record. Now, despite not looking all that great, there’s a chance to win a fifth straight game before going to Northwestern. After allowing 29 points in the last four games, the team keeps on finding ways to win.
It might not seem like it, but Purdue has a chance to be in the Big Ten title chase, too, but beating Minnesota isn’t anything to get too crazy about. Even so, after a rocky first month, and with the normal Boilermaker injury problems, an upset win would all of a sudden throw a wrench into the conference campaign. With three of the next four games on the road, Danny Hope’s team will be tested and it needs to come up with a win this week.
Penn State might be 10-2 against Purdue since joining the Big Ten, but it’s probably the easiest team the Boilermakers will play for a while. The next four opponents – PSU, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin – are a combined 22-1. Basically, this is the best chance Purdue might get at a win in the next month, and then Ohio State comes to West Lafayette.
With Illinois and Wisconsin both unbeaten and looking strong, the loser might be out of the Leaders race without a major break or three. But for two teams still looking for a little bit of consistency and working way too hard to get wins, the focus is on getting through this week.
Why Purdue Might Win: Penn State still can’t score. It doesn’t matter if it’s Temple or Alabama, Indiana or Iowa, getting points out of the Nittany Lion offense continues to be like pulling teeth. The passing game continues to be maddeningly inefficient, and while the running game has had its moments, it’s not taking over games. Penn State is feasting off its defense and big stops, but Purdue hasn’t been bad at hanging on to the ball with just four turnovers so far. Penalties were an issue in the opener against Middle Tennessee and against Notre Dame, but for the most part they haven’t been a huge problem. In other words, Purdue isn’t likely to self-implode and give Penn State anything cheap.
In a game between two struggling offenses, if the score stays low, special teams could play a huge role and Purdue has a huge advantage. Sophomore punter Cody Webster has been a life-saver, averaging a nation-best 48 yards per kick and bailing the team out of jams time and again, while placekicker Carson Wiggs has had a few chances on short to midrange kicks. Penn State is 102nd in the nation in punting averaging just 34.5 yards per kick, and the return game has been lousy.
Why Penn State Might Win: Defense, defense, defense, defense, defense. The defense was supposed to take a step back after losing star linebacker Michel Mauti for the season and not having top corner D’Anton Lynn, but instead, the team got better holding Iowa to just 253 total yards while not allowing more than 84 rushing yards to anyone other than Alabama. On the year, the Nittany Lions have allowed six touchdowns and created 14 takeaways. Purdue’s offense has had a few nice moments, and running game has been solid, but the offensive line isn’t playing well enough to stop a Penn State defensive front that’s eating everything up.
Penn State’s offense might not be doing anything special, but the offensive line is giving the quarterbacks time to work. The downfield passing game is non-existent, and Rob Bolden’s accuracy isn’t there when he gets his chances, but the opportunities are there. Purdue’s defense hasn’t been bad, but it doesn’t have the pass rush of past years. There’s no Ryan Kerrigan-like playmaker up front for Penn State to worry about.
What To Watch Out For: Penn State sophomore Silas Redd just needed a chance, and now he’s saving the offense. The 5-10, 201-pounder packs power and has a great burst. Now he’s showing he can be a difference-maker when he gets to carry the workload, running for 129 yards against Indiana and getting a workmanlike 142 yards on 28 carries against Iowa. Until Purdue proves it can stop him, he’ll keep getting the ball.
Purdue’s Kawann Short is a possible second-round NFL Draft pick if he chooses to leave early. The 6-3, 310-pound junior has been excellent at times against the run, making 11 stops against Rice, while leading the team this year with six tackles for loss. It’s his job to hold firm in the middle of the line and it’ll be up to him to keep Redd from doing much up the middle. Purdue’s run defense might not be a rock, but if Short has a big game, it might be one this week.
What Will Happen: It’ll be a typical Penn State win. The offense won’t be explosive, the big plays won’t be there, but the passing game won’t be too bad compared to Purdue’s passing game. The Nittany Lion defensive line will stuff the Purdue ground attack, and the red-hot secondary will take care of the rest.
CFN Prediction: Penn State 20 … Purdue 9
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Penn State -12 O/U: 39.5
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