UNIVERSITY PARK, Penn. – Penn State opened Big Ten play in extremely impressive fashion and it has one more favorable matchup before running a gauntlet of tough opponents. The 11th-ranked Nittany Lions will try to take advantage of a home date with the banged-up Purdue Boilermakers when the teams meet in a Big Ten clash Saturday afternoon.
TV: Noon ET, ESPN. LINE: Penn State -27.5
After an uneven but unbeaten non-conference slate, Penn State invaded Maryland for a Friday night affair in front of a fired-up crowd and dominated the Terrapins en route to a 59-0 victory. The Lions hope that the fantastic showing carries some momentum through the matchup with the Boilermakers and into a stretch that includes three straight games against ranked opponents - two on the road. Purdue comes into Happy Valley having lost two in a row and it will be without starting quarterback Elijah Sindelar (clavicle) along with star wide receiver Rondale Moore (hamstring), who were hurt on the same play in last week's 38-31 loss to Minnesota. Sindelar could miss the remainder of the season while Moore - who had 344 receiving yards through the first two games of the year - is out at least a week.
ABOUT PURDUE (1-3, 0-1 Big Ten)
Freshman Jack Plummer will take over for Sindelar as the starter after throwing for 245 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions following the latter's departure against the Golden Gophers. Plummer also started the team's loss to TCU on Sept. 14 when Sindelar was sidelined with a concussion, completing just 13-of-29 passes with a pair of picks, and feels he is now better prepared to handle the offense. "I felt more comfortable out there," Plummer told reporters of the effort against Minnesota. "It was good to see with my eyes what was happening and that it's being the correct thing. I felt like I knew what defense Minnesota was in every snap."
ABOUT PENN STATE (4-0, 1-0)
Sophomore quarterback Sean Clifford was named Big Ten Co-Offensive Player of the Week after recording career highs in completions (26) and yards (398) while tossing three TD passes and running for another against Maryland. Wideout KJ Hamler hauled in a season-high six catches for 108 yards and a score, and the speedster leads the Nittany Lions with 16 grabs for 353 yards while fellow sophomore Journey Brown (196 rushing yards) heads a balanced ground attack that has seen seven different players find the end zone. The nation's second-best scoring defense (7.5 points allowed per game) is led by sophomore linebacker Micah Parsons, who has a team-high 22 tackles despite missing most of last game following an ejection for targeting, and junior lineman Yetur Gross-Matos (3.5 sacks).
1. The Boilermakers entered the week ranked second-to-last among FBS teams in rushing with 68.3 yards per game.
2. Clifford has gained at least 50 yards on the ground in three of the first four games.
3. The teams have not met since 2016, when Penn State topped Purdue for the eighth straight time with a 62-24 win.
PREDICTION: Penn State 45, Purdue 14