PURDUE: Game Breakdown

The good, the bad and the slippery from Penn State's workman like road victory over Purdue Saturday.

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — After going 1-3 away from home in the Big Ten in 2007, the Penn State football team is of the opinion that any conference road win is a good win.

And so it was after the No. 6 Nittany Lions out-muscled Purdue 20-6 at Ross-Ade Stadium Saturday.

As PSU head coach Joe Paterno addressed the media just outside the team locker room after the game, he had to talk over the racket of his Nittany Lions hooting and hollering behind the door.

Speaking of Paterno, due to the sore right leg that has been giving him problems, he spent the afternoon coaching from the press box. After his press conference, he hobbled down from a small stage, through a back door and into the front seat of a white van which presumably was taking him to the team plane.

As he entered the van, a crowd of Penn State fans began chanting his name. Paterno laughed and waved. Not quite the celebration the team was having inside. But he was obviously feeling good about the day, just the same.

Here is our breakdown of what went down Saturday.

MAN OF THE HOUR: We'll give the nod to Penn State linebacker Josh Hull, who spearheaded the Lion defense with a career-high 11 tackles including two behind the line. Nice job after coming under considerable scrutiny during the week leading up to the game.

CLOSE SECOND: Penn State running back Evan Royster pounded out 141 yards and a score on 18 carries.

TURNING POINT: With the Lions leading 7-0 and the second-quarter winding down, Boilermaker kicker Chris Summers capped an 8-play, 51-yard drive by pushing a 36-yard field-goal try wide left. PSU responded with a long field-goal drive to go up 10-0 at the half and was never threatened thereafter.

SOLID STRATEGY: When it became clear State would have to grind things out in the second half, it did just that, with 22 carries after the break. No sense getting whacky on a day where players were slipping all over the place (see below).

NUMBERS GAME: Penn State was 4 of 12 on third downs, including several short-yardage flubs.

BUSINESS AS USUAL: Lion QB Daryll Clark connected on 18 of 26 passes for an efficient 220 yards. He didn't have a TD, but he didn't have any picks, either.

SPECIAL DELIVERY: Kevin Kelly was good on both of his field-goal tries for Penn State. Though they were both chip shots, the struggles of Summers (see below) pointed out the importance of a reliable kicker.

WHAT'S UP WITH?

• The Penn State players slipping all over the place, yet the field was wet? There was no rain in the area the day before the game nor Saturday. Royster and backup tailback Stephfon Green both changed cleats at halftime and seemed to have better footing from that point. Interestingly, while writers where doing their jobs in the press box after the game, sprinkler heads came up and began spraying the field with more water.

• On second-and-1 from the Purdue 43 early in the game, Clark checked to a quick out pass to Deon Butler. The pass was incomplete. If the play was going to be changed, why not take a deep shot there instead of trying a short-gainer? PSU came up short on third-and-1 and had to punt.

• Summers had a horrible day. He missed two field-goal tries and a late extra point. Funny how the final betting line on this game was 13.5 points. If Summers made the PAT, Purdue would have covered.

• Purdue quarterback Curtis Painter, who went into the season projected as a possible first-round NFL, could not get his offense moving all day. He was benched in favor of fellow senior Joey Elliot late in the game. Elliot led the Boilers on their only scoring drive.

HIT SQUAD: PSU linebacker Navorro Bowman had several solid hits, including a pair in the backfield.

HIDDEN HERO: Derrick Williams had five catches for 55 yards to pace the Nittany Lions.

LOST IN THE SHUFFLE: Purdue managed only 51 yards on three kickoff returns. State's coverage unit has really tightened up since the Temple game.

DID YOU NOTICE?

• Senior cornerbacker Lydell Sargeant was replaced in the lineup by junior A.J. Wallace. Sargeant didn't play until the fourth quarter.

• Senior wideout Jordan Norwood warmed up but did not play for the second straight week due to a hamstring injury.

• True freshman defensive tackle Brandon Ware made the travel roster. He was the only rookie on the trip who had not played prior to Saturday. He did not see action here.

UNANSWERED QUESTION: Is Penn State prepared to take this road show to Madison?


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