Penn State travels for a game against Purdue this week ranked in the AP Top 25 for the first time since 2011. The No. 24 Nittany Lions scored an upset against Ohio State last week on a thrilling (and legal) blocked field goal, and it sure looks like this program is back to being good at football. It was a long time in the wilderness.
Speaking of the wilderness, there's Purdue. Two weeks ago, the Boilermakers fired head coach Darrell Hazell after losing by two touchdowns at home to Iowa. His interim replacement, former receivers coach Gerad Parker, lost his debut game last week at Nebraska, 27-14. The Boilers are a long way from being good again, and the rest of this year is mostly immaterial. That's good, because the next month probably won't be terrific.
So, we've got two teams rolling in vastly different directions. It'd make no sense at all if Purdue were able to win this game, but then, college football can be a weird beast.
How to watch, stream, and listen
TV: Noon ET, ABC/ESPN2. The broadcasters are Beth Mowins, Anthony Becht, and Rocky Boiman.
Radio: Penn State and Purdue
Online streaming: WatchESPN
Spread: Penn State is favored by about two touchdowns at most places.
Make friends: Get to SB Nation's team blog chats for this game at Black Shoe Diaries (for Penn State fans) and Hammer & Rails (for Purdue fans).
Three big things to know
1. Penn State should be able to run wild. The Boilers feature one of the worst rush defenses in the country. They cough up 5.7 yards per carry and have spent a few games getting absolutely gashed – most notably a three-game stretch against Maryland, Illinois, and Iowa in which the Boilers gave up 360 ground yards per game and 7.4 per carry. Penn State's Saquon Barkley is better than any running back on any of those teams and just ran for 8.3 yards per rush against Ohio State. He should be able to do some awful things to the Boilers.
2. Purdue isn't particularly good at anything, really. The Boilers get pushed around on defense. They don't move the needle at all on offense. Punter Joe Schopper is pretty decent, and his field position boosting might be the best thing they've got going for them in this game. I want to speak positively in some fashion about this on-field product, but the entire team has underperformed.
3. Purdue hasn't beaten Penn State in a long while. The teams haven't played since the Big Ten realigned into East and West divisions for the 2014 season. Purdue won back-to-back games against Penn State in 2003 and 2004 but hasn't been back in the win column since, dropping seven in a row. The all-time record is 13-3-1 in PSU's favor, and there isn't a compelling reason to believe the tide will turn on Saturday.