For Purdue to beat a ranked team it needed to be in the position is needed to be in with 42 seconds left in the first half. At that point, Purdue was tied 17-17 with Penn State and had the ball in Nittany Lion territory. Markell Jones caught a pass on the east sideline and got a first down. He had a great shot for more and it even appeared as if he had a critical touchdown, but he was ruled out of bounds at the 22- yard line before making his cut inside for the score.
The call was correct. On review, he was out of bounds just barely, and Purdue still had work to do instead of being up 24-17 going into the locker room. Purdue failed to gain any further yardage and J.D. Dellinger missed a 39-yard field goal.
That miss would prove to be absolutely critical. Instead of being ahead 24-17 or even 20-17 getting the ball out of halftime Purdue was tied. Just three plays into the second half Penn State picked off David Blough. Brandon Smith gave the Nittany Lions the ball at the Purdue 24. Penn State quickly scored, Purdue punted, Bilal Marshall had a critical muffed punt that set up another score, and Penn State scored again. Within 7 minutes a tie game at the break was 31-17 and the rout was on.
After halftime Penn State delivered a completely unmerciful beating. They outscored Purdue 45-7 in the second half and made me look like an idiot for picking Purdue to win. Of course, I am an idiot if second half Purdue is what were are going to see in the remaining 240 minutes of the season. That Purdue was completely outclassed in every phase of the game. The Boilers could not score, could not even move the ball, could not get a stop, and if not for a long touchdown to DeAngelo Yancey, could not do a single thing right in the second half.
How bad was it? 62 points given up is a visiting team record at Ross-Ade Stadium. Since this loss is on Darrell Hazell, it is the third time the visiting team record has been upped. Northern Illinois set it in early 2013 at 55. Ohio State broke it a few weeks after that in a 56-0 beatedown that wasn’t even that close. Virginia Tech had 51 and Indiana had 54 last year. Purdue has never been a strong defensive team, but giving up the five worst defensive performances in school history at home is an indictment on every defensive coach hired by Hazell.
As we all agreed this week, Penn State was definitely the better team. I had faith in this team because of what I saw in the first half. Purdue fought hard and was the better team against a ranked team for 30 minutes. Football is a 60-minute game though, and that is a sign of how far Purdue has to go.
Purdue has some things going for it as it digs out of the smoldering crater that Darrell Hazell drove the program in to. Under Hazell, we couldn’t even dream of playing with a team like Penn State. In two weeks, Gerad Parker has at least gotten this team to play hard and compete against good teams for a half.
Unfortunately, it means very little in the second half. Purdue has now been outscored 62-7 in the second half each of the last two weeks after winning the first two halves 31-28. That first half team is why I think Purdue can at least win one game left this year. The second half is why they should finish 3-9.
It’s up to Gerad Parker to find a way to get two halves out of this team.