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November 14, 2013

Matchup Preview: Purdue-Penn State





GoldandBlack.com breaks down how Purdue and Penn State might match up Saturday in Beaver Stadium.

When Purdue's running ...

Never mind the fact that Penn State's shown to be vulnerable against the run - Ohio State ran for more than 400 yards - and consider the fact that Purdue would appear totally incapable of taking advantage at this point. There's one team in college football that rushes for more yards than the Boilermakers and that team, Washington State, hardly bothers to try.

Advantage: Penn State (decided)

When Purdue's passing ...

Danny Etling showed some modest progress against Iowa and his protection was slightly better against an opponent that wasn't quite as imposing as those that came before it, but it remains a struggle. Purdue went without a turnover in the passing game against the Hawkeyes and will obviously want to make it two weeks in a row.
Advantage: Penn State (slight)

When Penn State is running ...

Purdue's struggled against the run, coming off a game in which Iowa racked up 318 yards. The fewest yards Purdue's given up in Big Ten play: 182 against Michigan State. Penn State has capable back, but Zach Zwinak and Bill Belton have been prone to fumbling. Not sure Purdue can count on that trend repeating itself, though. The Boilermakers have only forced four fumbles this season, some of them coming on special teams.

Advantage: Penn State (decided)

When Penn State is passing ...

Christian Hackenberg's numbers look just fine, especially for a freshman, but there have been the inevitable inconsistencies any true freshman quarterback would face. And Penn State is really struggling to score in the red zone, though that's a unit-wide issue. Penn State has one of the best receivers in the game in Allen Robinson and Purdue has a pressing need to put pressure on Hackenberg. Like virtually everything else, generating pressure has been a struggle. The most important thing, though: Stopping the run.

Advantage: Penn State (slight)

Special teams

Here's our weekly reminder that Cody Webster is really good at punting and Purdue's needed him desperately this season. Where would it be without him?

Advantage: Even

Intangibles

Penn State's the only team in the Big Ten with a worse turnover margin than Purdue, having given it away seven more times than it's taken it away. … The Nittany Lions move the ball on offense but have really had a hard time cashing in in the red zone, being just 7-of-12 in the past three games, for example. … The Lions are now down another linebacker after Ben Kline was lost for the season after he's started the past two games. … Purdue has registered just four sacks through five Big Ten games.






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