Penn State (5-4, 2-3) vs. Purdue (1-8, 0-5)
When: Noon, Saturday
Where: Beaver Stadium
Series: Penn State leads 12-3-1
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Last meeting: Penn State won 34-9 last season
Coaches: Purdue — Darrell Hazell, first season, 1-8 (17-18 overall); Penn State — Bill O’Brien, second season, 13-8 overall.
Television: BTN (commentators: Eric Collins, Chuck Long, Jon Jansen)
Radio: WQWK 1450, WBUS 93.7 (Announcers: Steve Jones, Jack Ham)
The skinny: Penn State hasn’t won back-to-back games since the first two weeks of the season. It’s been a little longer since the Boilermakers accomplished that feat, nearly a year in fact. While Penn State has struggled to play consistently, posting solid performances in some facets of the game while tailing off in others, Purdue has been outmatched in nearly every phase each weekend this season. The Boilermakers rank at the bottom in nearly every major statistical category among Big Ten teams and will have to snap a six-game losing streak against Penn State — and a seven-game skid this season — if they want to earn their second win under Hazell.
Boilermaker player to watch: True freshman wideout DeAngelo Yancey has already raised eyebrows around the Big Ten as a player who can develop into a difference-maker for the Boilermakers. He’s shown signs he can be dominant. He posted the first back-to-back 100-yard receiving games for Purdue since 2009 and pulled in Purdue’s longest play of the season — a 55-yard, one-handed touchdown grab — against Nebraska. He also has a 50-yard catch and is a threat down the field. At 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds, Yancey is a solid, physical target in the passing game.
Nittany Lion player to watch: Penn State has run the ball at will in its last two games. Can the Nittany Lions’ passing game return to form? Redshirt freshman Geno Lewis could be able to help that effort by providing quarterback Christian Hackenberg with another reliable target down the field. Allen Robinson was added to the team’s injury report with a sore shoulder this past week and needs help stretching the field.
Key matchup: Purdue doesn’t do anything particularly well, so as long as Penn State doesn’t beat itself, the Nittany Lions should roll. But Penn State has been adept at providing opponents with opportunities in games that have slipped away. The Nittany Lions have seven turnovers, have failed to convert eight fourth downs and missed two field goals in their four losses. Meanwhile, opponents have taken advantage with 45 points off turnovers.