Best in Big Ten?
Penn State has been nearly unbeatable at home in recent years. It's still waiting to carry that success to the road.
After playing four of their first five games at home, the sixth-ranked Nittany Lions will try to reverse their recent road woes starting Saturday at Purdue, where they'll begin a grueling stretch of four of five contests away from Happy Valley.
Penn State (5-0, 1-0 Big Ten) has won 24 of its past 26 home games, but it hasn't been nearly as successful playing outside of Beaver Stadium. The Nittany Lions are 9-16 overall on the road since the start of the 2003 season, and have lost four of their last five road games against Big Ten opponents.
Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made Penn State -13 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Saturday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 94% of bets for this game have been placed on Penn State –13 (View College Football bet percentages).
"Obviously, we've been beaten on the road a lot recently, but we've played some good teams," coach Joe Paterno said. "Whether it was us not being good enough or being beaten by a better team, I don't think about it."
Penn State is 12-20 on the road within the conference since 2000, and faces an intimidating stretch over the next month that includes visits to No. 14 Ohio State and No. 18 Wisconsin. The Lions' only road win came on Sept. 13 at Syracuse, 55-13 over an Orange team which has yet to beat a Bowl Subdivision opponent.
"Right now we're not worried about the next four games," said senior wide receiver Derrick Williams. "We're worried about the next game against Purdue."
Williams should have plenty of confidence heading into West Lafayette. The nation's No. 1 recruit out of high school in 2005, Williams scored just 12 touchdowns in his first three seasons at Penn State, but last Saturday against No. 22 Illinois, he scored three times in just over 30 minutes.
Williams became the first Nittany Lions player in Paterno's 43 years on the sidelines to catch a touchdown pass, run for a TD and return a kick for a score, taking one back 94 yards in Penn State's 38-24 win.
"This is the first time he's really had a chance to break out," Paterno said. "Derrick's been in tough games and made big plays ... He's a heck of an athlete."
Williams caught six of Daryll Clark's passes for 75 yards, stepping up while fellow wideout Jordan Norwood was out with a hamstring injury. Paterno said Norwood, who had 18 catches for 318 yards and four touchdowns in his first four games, is expected to play against Purdue, "but don't hold me to it."
Clark, who leads the Big Ten and is 11th nationally in passer rating (168.3), will be facing a struggling Boilermakers defense. Purdue (2-2) is allowing 439.3 total yards per game to rank last in the conference and 108th in the country.
The Nittany Lions are fourth in the country in scoring (49.8 points per game) and ninth in total offense (515.2 ypg).
The Boilermakers gave up 476 total yards in a 38-21 loss to Notre Dame last Saturday, getting outscored 31-7 over the game's final 35 minutes.
"Defensively, I don't know if we need to take more chances or what, but we can't have a team control the ball that much against us and expect to be successful," coach Joe Tiller said after Notre Dame held the ball for more than 35 minutes.
On offense, Purdue needs more production from quarterback Curtis Painter.
The senior had 15 touchdown passes and two interceptions in non-conference play last season as the Boilermakers averaged 45.5 points to go 4-0. Heading into the conference opener in 2008, Painter has five touchdowns and four interceptions.
In three career games against Penn State - all Purdue losses - Painter has not thrown a touchdown pass in 104 attempts.
He was 27-for-48 for 255 yards last season in a 26-19 loss in Beaver Stadium. Williams starred for the Lions in that game, catching 10 passes for 95 yards and a touchdown and also running for a score.
Purdue hasn't scored an offensive touchdown in its last two games against Penn State, including a 12-0 loss at Ross-Ade Stadium in 2006.
All games in this series since 1992
PENN ST is 7-4 against the spread versus PURDUE since 1992
PENN ST is 9-2 straight up against PURDUE since 1992
8 of 10 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL since 1992
Games over the last 3 seasons
PURDUE is 1-1 against the spread versus PENN ST over the last 3 seasons
PENN ST is 2-0 straight up against PURDUE over the last 3 seasons
2 of 2 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
All games played at PURDUE since 1992
PENN ST is 3-2 against the spread versus PURDUE since 1992
PENN ST is 4-1 straight up against PURDUE since 1992
3 of 5 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL since 1992
Games played at PURDUE over the last 3 seasons.
PENN ST is 1-0 against the spread versus PURDUE over the last 3 seasons
PENN ST is 1-0 straight up against PURDUE over the last 3 seasons
1 of 1 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
[DL] Abe Koroma missed last game, upgraded to probable. - Suspension Serve
[TE] Mickey Shuler upgraded to probable - Ankle - 09/24/08
[OL] Doug Klopacz is out for the season - ACL - 09/24/08
[OL] Mike Lucian upgraded to probable - Ankle - 09/24/08
[OL] Ako Poti missed last game %27?%27 - Knee - 09/21/08
[DL] Maurice Evans missed last game, upgraded to probable. - Suspension Se
[DT] Phillip Taylor dismissed from team. - Dismissed - 08/01/08
[DT] Chris Baker dismissed from team. - Dismissed - 08/01/08
[DT] Devon Still is out for the season. - Ankle - 09/10/08
[LB] Jerome Hayes out for the season - ACL - 09/07/08
[S] Nick Sukay is expected to miss entire season - Foot - 09/01/08
[RB] Jaycen Taylor is expected to miss the rest of the season. - Knee - 08
[TE] Kyle Adams missed last game %27?%27 - Knee - 09/20/08
[LB] Jason Werner downgraded to expected to miss - Back - 09/22/08
Did you like this article? Subscribe to our College Football news feed for the fastest updates delivered right to you - Click here to Subscribe