#24 Penn State (6-2, 4-1 Big Ten) 62, Purdue (3-5, 1-4 Big Ten) 24
What looked like it would be an uncharacteristically competent first half in a noon road game quickly turned into a typical Penn State half-assed slow start. The opening drive of eight plays and 85 yards for a touchdown was what we have wanted to see for a long time. However, reverting to the road nooner syndrome, after that they fizzled, giving up 17 points to Purdue in the first half while adding another 10 points to wind up the half tied at 17. Both teams were putting the announced crowd of 33,000, which looked more like 3,300, to sleep.
Bowl eligibility. Yay!
“We’ve been a second-half team all year” —James Franklin
The second half was a different story. Call it the Saquon Barkley show. Barkley had a career day with 207 yards and two touchdowns on the ground on 18 carries plus three catches for 70 yards, a major reason for why the Nittnaroos added another 45 point in the second half.
Trace McSorley did a decent job, going 12-23 for 228 yards and three touchdowns. We even got to see Tommy Stevens in the fourth quarter.
Turnovers plagued the Boilermakers in the second half, coughing up two fumbles and heaving two interceptions. Add one screwed up punt, and the lions were able to pad their lead. Walk-on linebacker Brandon Smith deserves a shout-out for his big interception and his overall play in relief of Jason Cabinda.
Fortunately, the 11 penalties levied against the Nittany Lions for 91 yards, didn’t skew the game. In a close game, they would have been disastrous. What’s up with that?
Third Down Suckage
Penn State did nothing to stem the tide of third down suckage, converting only two of nine. That’s right on their average of 22%, which leading up to this week was good for next-to-last in the FBS. Meanwhile, the time-of-possession stat similarly sucked. Purdue kept the ball 34:47, while the Nits had it for only 25:13. This solidifies the common perception that Penn State’s short game blows, while big plays keep the offense afloat, much to the chagrin of the defensive unit, which has little time to rest.
The newly bowl eligible Nittany Lions now prepare for one of their tougher remaining opponents, the Iowa Hawkeyes (5-3, 3-2), next Saturday night at St. Joe Memorial.
I’ll be back on Monday with a look at that big Iowa game.