First off, here is the usual link to the final blogpoll for the week. Since Samsung was kind enough to sponsor the Blogpoll this year I am happy to include them on our weekly previews since they want the Blogpoll follow-up posted as well.
In the meantime, we have a trip to Penn State this week, and we welcome the Nittany Lions back to the schedule after a two-year absence. I'll be making the trip to Happy Valley to add my ninth Big Ten Stadium other than Purdue, and that alone likely guarantees a loss. I am 1-7 in my first visit to a Big Ten venue, with the only win coming at Northwestern in 2006.
2010 Record: 7-6, 4-4 Big Ten
Bowl Result: Lost to Florida 37-24 in Outback Bowl
Series with Purdue: Penn State Leads 10-3-1
Last Purdue win: 20-13 at Penn State on 10/9/2004
Last Penn State win: 20-6 at Purdue on 10/4/2008
We have two positions, but four players playing in this spot. Penn State has Matthew McGloin and Robert Bolden. We , of course, have Robert Marve and Caleb TerBush. In both cases the head coach just needs to pick a guy and stick with him, but they refuse to. That means this will likely be about as organized as a monkey shit-fight at the zoo. Technically, our offense is performing at a much better rate (32.6 ppg to 21.5), but those numbers are greatly skewed from SEMO and Minnesota. McGloin has the much better numbers, as seen above, but Bolden is the better athlete. Given that we have thrown just two interceptions, we have an edge here. If Bolden plays we have to take advantage of it, especially if Ricardo Allen can pick six him for the record. Slight Edge: Purdue
While we have a running back by committee approach, Penn State is running a more traditional one back set. Silas Redd has been effective between the 20's with 574 yards and four touchdowns. Curtis Dukes is averaging seven yards per carry to provide him some rest. These two guys have been the most consistent offense for the Nittany Lions. They have the advantage in that our run defense has not been as stout as theirs. They give up less than 100 yards per game on the ground, while we're at 143. I am fine with keying on Redd and forcing the quarterbacks to throw, but will we be smart enough to do so? Also, we absolutely have to commit to the run on our end, something we have failed to do. Edge: Penn State
We've had some productive receivers with six guys catching at least eight passes. Penn State gets an almost incomplete grade because their quarterbacks can't get them the ball. I watched a good portion of their game at IU and the number of passes that were over or under thrown was staggering. Derek Moye is one of the most dangerous receivers in the conference. He's another big guy like Micheal Floyd that gives us matchup problems. Don't be surprised if they use him as a security blanket. With all the other receivers being even, Moye gives them a big target and downfield threat we simply lack. Edge: Penn State
I think we learned everything we needed to learn last week against Minnesota. Despite Danny Hope's sunshine and lollipops view, we gave up three sacks to a team that had only two in five games. Trevor Foy is now into the starting lineup for Justin Kitchens, and Ken Plue is still MIA. It is imperative that we block for the running game and have success there. Penn State's line has given up only five sacks, and that was facing Alabama with one of the best defenses in the country. Considering our complete lack of a pass rush both McGloin and Bolden should have plenty of time to throw. Edge: Penn State
Penn State can generate a pass rush from all over. They have 13 sacks, but no singular pass rushing specialist. Gerald Hodges, Sean Stanley, and Devon Still each have two sacks with Hodges coming off the end as a linebacker. Kawann Short and Bruce Gaston have to keep the middle clean for us and prevent Redd from going crazy. Unfortunately, we haven't been able to get into the backfield with any consistency even with SEMO on the schedule. We have only five sacks while giving up 14. We can't protect or get to the quarterback, while they can do both. Edge: Penn State
Hodges is a pass rusher that is incredibly active and worthy of playing at Linebacker U. he and Glenn Carson have a combined 68 tackles and handle the middle of the field well. Iowa could do very little last week. Joe Holland and Will Lucas continue to be solid on the ends, but I remain unconvinced the middle of the field problem has been fixed mostly because Minnesota didn't try to exploit it last week. Our guys have been good, but we are facing Linebacker U. Clearly they know what they are doing. Edge: Penn State
Ricardo Allen had a solid week last week and given the inaccuracy of Penn State's quarterbacks I would not be surprised if he gets another pick or two this week. Unfortunately, I don't know if he can cover Moye. Teams can pass on Penn State. They give up over 200 yards per game through the air, but they have also intercepted eight pass. Chaz Powell and Nick Sukay have two picks apiece. In terms of coverage I think the teams are even, but Penn State has sure tacklers and does not give up many big plays. Landon Feichter keeps getting more playing time than Logan Link, but both have been a liability in pass coverage. Slight Edge: Penn State
If we're going to win this game, it will come from this area. I am confident in having Raheem Mostert as a kick returner and I think he is capable of breaking a return and changing the game. They're solid in coverage though, and Powell has a kick return for a score. Carson Wiggs will once again be a weapon for us. Anthony Fera is a solid punter for them and he is now 6 of 7 on field goals after two other kickers saw time. He only has a long of 33 yards. Cody Webster should also be a huge weapon against an offense that struggles to score points. Edge: Purdue
On paper this looks so simple. If we stop Moye and Redd we stop their offense. We should commit to the run to work the clock and move the ball against a good but not great defense. If we have the lead it keeps the game moving as well. These are easy coaching decisions that everyone sees... except our own coaching staff. I honestly have little confidence that we will do what we need to do in order to win. This could easily turn into a 12-10 type of game where we capitalize on four long field goals. This game could be a true indictment of our coaching staff. If we let their offense go crazy on us when they haven't done that against anyone but awful teams it will be entirely at the feet of the coaching staff. We have the talent to compete with them, but I don't know if that talent will be put in a position to succeed. Edge: Penn State
Any Purdue win is reliant on the Penn State offense continuing to struggle. Given how vanilla our offense has been even in our big wins I don't see where we have run anything that will be difficult for them to stop. We continue to force a two-quarterback system that ridiculously rewards players for not being daring on the field. That says all I need to know.
This is a very winnable game for Purdue, but this is me making a pick strictly against our coaching staff. Penn State 20, Purdue 7