Penn State Football: Purdue Provides Nittany Lions With Rebound And Risk
Penn State hasn't been great this year, but the Nittany Lions have lost two straight games only once under O'Brien, meaning the Nittany Lions don't let losses snowball, which counts for something.
This week, the rebound du jour comes in the form of the Purdue Boilermakers. Sitting at 1-8, Purdue could provide Penn State's offense with a much needed spark as the Nittany Lions look to complete the final three game stretch of the season.
So far this year, Purdue has give up 40 or more points five different times while maxing out offensively at 24 points twice during 2013. Even as Penn State has struggled to produce on offense on a consistent basis, the Boilermakers are the perfect target for a late season revival after losing 3 of the last 5 games. Purdue's defense has been poor (37 points per game ranked 112th nationally) and the offense has not done much better at 11 points per contest. A perfect opponent for a team looking for a win.
But playing Purdue also comes with an undeniable risk. Lose, and only questions follow.
Penn State and O'Brien face hurdles on a regular basis -- some of them thanks to the NCAA. But at the end of the day Penn State has talented players on both sides of the ball and has at times under performed with those players.
Youth, inexperience, and depth are a real factor on Penn State's roster, but if the Nittany Lions' struggles continue into this weekend's meeting with Purdue tougher questions will and should be asked of O'Brien and his staff.
There is little doubt that what O'Brien has done for the program has gone far beyond the expectations of many. His efforts off the field alone have helped hold the program, and in some respects the university at-large, together. Those sorts of things cannot be discredited.
But at the end of the day, even burdened with sanctions and youth, Penn State should win this weekend's game. A 13-point favorite in Vegas is as scientific as one can get while picking a favorite in any sporting contest.
So there is little doubt that this weekend is as much an opportunity for victory as it is a must-win situation for O'Brien and his program.