While the upset over Ohio State was the signature win that had eluded head coach James Franklin for the majority of his three-years at Penn State, the 62-24 win Saturday over Purdue served as a big statement win for both him and the program.
After the emotional high of defeating the then-No. 2 team in the country (and a big rival, to boot), Saturday’s game had the possibility of being a considerable let down. The Nittany Lions were on the road against a team with an interim head coach looking to salvage a season and were playing in front of 70,000 fewer people than the week before.
Penn State came out of the gates fast marching 85 yards down the field in eight plays to put a touchdown on the board. But Purdue matched the Nittany Lions with a touchdown on their first possession and marched down the field on their second possession for another touchdown to take the lead against Penn State.
Then Penn State wide receiver Chris Godwin caught a 38-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Trace McSorley to tie the game at 14 for the Nittany Lions, before the teams traded field goals to enter the half tied at 17.
But after the half it was ALL Penn State — on both sides of the football. A 62-yard touchdown strike from David Blough to DeAngelo Yancey would be the only touchdown for the Boilermakers in the second half.
Brent Pry’s defense limited Purdue to 131 total yards of offense in the second half (only 69 yards outside of the 62-yard touchdown pass).
The Nittany Lions’ offense, taking a page from the defense, exploded for 45 points in the second half, a half where starters played only the third quarter and two minutes of the fourth.
Brandon Smith picked off a Blough pass to set the offense up for Godwin’s second touchdown reception of the afternoon that put the Nittany Lions up 24-17. On the ensuing Penn State possession, the Boilermakers forced a punt, however, a Bilal Marshall fumble on said punt gave the ball right back to the Nittany Lions. Andre Robinson found the endzone for the first of his two touchdowns with a 4-yard rush to put Penn State up 34-17.
Purdue held Penn State’s offense to a Tyler Davis field goal on its next possession before McSorley found Miles Sanders for a 21-yard touchdown reception following the lone touchdown for the Boilermakers in the second half.
Running back Saquon Barkley exploded for 81 of his 207 yards on the ground on his second rushing touchdown of the day in the fourth quarter — all but sealing the deal for the Nittany Lions. Barkley had 70 yards receiving to put him at 277 all-purpose yards on the afternoon.
But the scoring wasn’t over just yet. Penn State recovered a fumble to set up a Mark Allen rushing touchdown that put the Nittany Lions up 55-24. And Christian Campbell intercepted a pass to put the Penn State offense in position for Robinson’s second touchdown of the afternoon on a 19-yard rush to round out the scoring.
When the dust settled, Penn State had 511 yards of total offense (257 yards coming via the running game and the other 254 yards coming through the air).
The 62-point outburst was the most the Nittany Lions scored in a Big Ten game since scoring 63 in 2005 against Illinois. The 2005 team went on to finish third in the national rankings and won a triple-overtime game against Florida State in the Orange Bowl.
With the victory, Penn State is now bowl-eligible for the third season in a row with a 6-2 record. At 3-1 in the Big Ten, the Nittany Lions are in prime shape to play in a New Year’s Day bowl game or later barring any significant setbacks in the next four games.
More information pertaining to bowl games involving Penn State can be found here.
Penn State welcomes Iowa to Beaver Stadium this Saturday for a prime-time match-up beginning at 7:30 p.m. EDT, which will air on the Big Ten Network.
Image credit: Michael Conroy/AP