Big Ten Bets Week 1: Penn State Nittany Lions at Purdue Boilermakers

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September 1

Big-time college football is back, as the Penn State Nittany Lions visit the Purdue Boilermakers in an early-season conference game.Penn State Nittany Lions Breakdown

2021 Record: 7-6 (4-5); Big Ten Finish: 4th in B1G East

A.P. Poll: NR | Coaches Poll: NR | PFF: No. 16 | SP+: No. 13

Head Coach: James Franklin: 67-34 (42-28) | 9th Season | Overall: 91-49

Offensive Coordinator: Mike Yurcich (2nd Season)

Defensive Coordinator: Manny Diaz (1st Season)

Purdue Boilermakers Breakdown

2021 Record: 9-4 (6-3); Big Ten Finish: T-2nd B1G West

A.P. Poll: NR | Coaches Poll: NR | PFF: No. 35 | SP+: No. 34

Head Coach: Jeff Brohm: 28-29 (20-22) | 6th Season | Overall: 58-39

Offensive Coordinator:  Brian Brohm (6th Season)

Co-Defensive Coordinator: Ron English (2nd Season) | Mark Hagen (1st Season/2nd w/ Purdue)

Penn State Nittany Lions at Purdue Boilermakers FanDuel

Penn State -3.5 (-110) | Purdue +3.5 (-110)

Total: 53.5 OVER -106 | UNDER -114

ML: Penn State -178 | Purdue +146

Penn State Nittany Lions at Purdue Boilermakers Preview

Time: 8:00 p.m. ET | TV: FOX

There’s a lot of optimism in West Lafayette. Why not? With quarterback Aidan O’Connell back, the Boilermakers are coming off their best season in nearly two decades. The senior quarterback threw for 3,712 yards and 28 touchdowns while completing 71.6% of his passes and averaging 8.4 yards per attempt—all impressive numbers. 

However, he will have to make do without his top three targets from 2021, notably David Bell. One cannot overstate Bell’s value to the offense.

  • Purdue averaged 33 PPG when Bell had 70+ receiving yards

  • Purdue averaged 22 PPG when Bell was below 70 yards

Don’t expect much help from the running game, either. Theirs is not a balanced offense needed to test PSU’s potential weakness at linebacker. 

  • Purdue was last among the Power 5 in Rushing Efficiency per PFF

Tonight is a tough matchup for the Boilermakers because Penn State brings with them one of the top secondaries in college football, led by potential first-round pick Joey Porter Jr. He has elite size and is physical. An emerging star joins Porter Jr. in sophomore Kalen King. 

Junior coverman Daequan Hardy didn’t allow a single TD last season as a slot defender, and the return of Ji’Ayir Brown to safety was a big boom for the defense.

While O’Connell has been getting flowers all offseason, Penn State’s Sean Clifford is among the most maligned quarterbacks in college football. Is he going to be All-Big Ten? Probably not, but let’s not forget he was playing very well, had PSU 5-0 (two wins over ranked teams), and with the early lead in Iowa before he was injured. 

  • Before Injury: 67% completions, 11 TDs, three INTs

  • Post Injury: 57% completions, 10 TDs, five INTs

This season is also the first time since he arrived at Happy Valley that Clifford has the same offensive coordinator from the previous year. The hope is superstar freshman Nick Singleton gives a burst of playmaking ability the run game lacks.

PSU’s offensive line remains a cause for concern, but without star defensive end George Karlaftis, Purdue doesn’t have the edge rushers to expose potential faulty cracks. The loss of Karlaftis might be even more significant than Bell’s. 

If you can’t tell by now, I’m laying the points with the Nittany Lions tonight.

They’re the better team, and part of me likes that Purdue might be a bit overhyped as a B1G West contender, while many seem to be overlooking the third-most talented team in the Big Ten, who come into the season unranked for the first time since 2016.

B1G Bets – Week 1

Penn State -3.5 (-110)

I will pick B1G games all season, broken up into B1G, B1GGER, and B1GGEST Bets. File PSU -3.5 as a B1G Bet. 

 

 

Thumbnail photo via Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

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