Penn State Nittany Lions vs. Purdue Boilermakers Preview and Pick

#6 Penn State Nittany Lions (5-0) -13 at Purdue Boilermakers (2-2) +13
Saturday, October 4, 2008 – 12pm ET – ESPN
Ross-Ade Stadium – West Lafayette, Indiana
by Matt of

The Purdue Boilermakers will look to play spoiler this Saturday as they host the Penn State Nittany Lions in a Big Ten Conference clash. Penn State looks to be the cream of the Big Ten crop and has designs on a potential BCS Championship game appearance. Purdue will be opening up their conference schedule and will bring one of the best passing games to Ross-Ade Stadium to test the Lions. The game kicks at noon ET and can be seen on ESPN.

Penn State is a 13 to 13.5 point favorite at the college sportsbooks with the over/under total for the game at 58. The money line has PSU at -650 to -700 with Purdue in the +475 to +550 range.

Penn State comes in unblemished on the year overall and won its conference opener, 38-24, against Illinois. The Illini provided the stiffest test thus far as State ran through its non-conference schedule, beating Coastal Carolina, Oregon State, Syracuse and Temple by a combined score of 221-40.

Purdue is 2-2 overall on its non conference schedule, gaining wins against Central Michigan and Northern Colorado while dropping games to Oregon and Notre Dame.

Penn State is 3-1 against the spread on the year but is riding an 0-5 run ATS in the last five Big Ten games. The Lions have handled Purdue recently, going 7-2 against the spread in the last nine meetings of the series. Penn State has been rolling offensively with the over at 3-1 so far in ’08.

Purdue is 1-2 ATS thus far and has struggled with the line of late, going 1-5 against the spread in the last six overall. The Boilers offense has put up an average of 30.2 points on the year to have the over/under at even on the year at 1-1-1. The under has paid in the last six meeting between these two teams.

Penn State will bring a red hot offense to West Lafayette as the Lions rank in the top-10 in rush yards, total yards and points scored. State is averaging 49.8 points on 515 total yards and are balanced in the pass and run. Penn State’s defense isn’t letting the O take all the credit, ranking in the top-15 in yards and points allowed. The Lions are holding opponents to 12.8 points on average on only 252 total yards.

Daryll Clark calls the signals for the Lions and is a dual threat. Clark has completed 60% of his passes for 750 yards and eight touchdowns and has added 131 rush yards with three more TD’s on the ground. Stephon Green averages over six yards per carry out of the backfield and has crossed the goal line on four occasions. Jordan Norwood and Deon Butler both average over 17 yards per catch and have grabbed a combined six TD balls.

Purdue can score with the best of them behind a 16th ranked passing game and over 400 yards of total offense per contest. Curtis Painter has thrown for 1,113 yards to this point with five touchdowns against four interceptions. Kory Sheets must be accounted for out of the backfield with his 500+ scrimmage yards and seven total TD’s. Desmond Tardy and Greg Orton are Painter’s main targets with both at 20+ receptions so far.

The Boilermakers will have to put up a more solid defensive effort to stay with Penn State this week than they have to this point. Purdue is giving up 26.2 points on 439 total yards, including 244 rushing yards on average. Purdue ranks outside the top-100 in the NCAA in rushing and total yards allowed.

Both teams are expected at full strength with no major issues on the injury reports. The weather forecast for Saturday looks great with sunny skies and mid-60’s temps for kickoff.

The Penn St offense will be a tough test for a struggling Purdue defense, but I think the Boilermakers can hang in there with Painter, Sheets and the home crowd.

Matt’s Pick: PSU gave up 24 to Illinois last week and Purdue should be able to put up the same type of numbers in this one. Penn State wins straight up 38-28, but does not cover.