Penn State vs. Purdue College Football Week 1 Betting Guide: Odds, Picks, Predictions for Thursday’s Game

Penn State vs. Purdue College Football Week 1 Betting Guide: Odds, Picks, Predictions for Thursday’s Game article feature image

Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Aidan O’Connell (Purdue)

Penn State vs. Purdue Odds

Thursday, Sept. 1
8 p.m. ET
Penn State Odds
-110o / -110u
Purdue Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

A Big Ten clash headlines Thursday night, as Penn State travels to West Lafayette to take on Purdue.

Penn State is coming off of a 7-6 season and is 11-11 over the past two seasons, which is not where James Franklin would like his program to be.

This season, the expectations are a bit muted. Sean Clifford is back at quarterback, but the gap between the Nittany Lions and Michigan and Ohio State has widened.

A trip to West Lafayette to take on a giant slayer like Purdue will be a really tough game for the Nittany Lions.

Purdue is coming off of one of the most successful seasons in program history, as it went 9-4. The Boilermakers beat Tennessee in the Music City Bowl and knocked off two top-five teams in the process.

It will be tough to replicate that type of season, though, especially with a lot of Aidan O'Connell's weapons gone and some key pieces gone on the defensive side of the ball.

Penn State Nittany Lions

Nittany Lions Offense

This will now be Clifford's fourth year as the starting quarterback. In the past three years, he's failed to finish a season with a PFF passing grade over 70, and he has more than 10 turnover-worthy plays. The 2019 season was the only campaign in which he averaged over 7.5 yards per attempt.

This year, he loses his favorite target and an All-American in Jahan Dotson, but everyone else is back.

The program added Western Kentucky's Mitchell Tinsley, who had an 80.8 PFF receiving grade and 1,402 receiving yards in a pass-happy offense.

That means Clifford shouldn't have any excuses. However, this was an offense that was 95th in EPA/Play and only gained 4.9 yards per play (105th in FBS) last season.

The running back room gets back leading rusher Keyvone Lee, but the likely starter is going to be five-star true freshman Nicholas Singleton.

Nicholas Singleton tape is so much fun to watch. Kid is special man.

— Kevin (@Daboys_22) January 25, 2022

With how below average Clifford has been, the running game has to improve on 3.3 yards per carry. It's not going to get any easier, too, because Penn State is losing three starters on the offensive line from a unit that was 124th in Offensive Line Yards last year.

Nittany Lions Defense

Boy, oh boy, does Penn State have a lot of holes to fill on the defensive side of the ball, as only four starters return from last season. The Nittany Lions are going to regress from ranking fourth in Finishing Drives on defense, which was a big reason why they started out 5-0.

The defensive line loses three starters but returns four players who have at least started a game. Last season, Penn State was 51st in Defensive Line Yards and 101st in Havoc, so I can't see it drastically improving after losing three starters.

The biggest losses come on the back end. The Nittany Lions lose their top two tacklers at linebacker and two starters in the secondary, including First Team All-Big Ten talent Jaquan Brisker.

The good news is they get back NFL-caliber cornerback Joey Porter Jr. and Ji'Ayir Brown, who led the team in interceptions last year.

Penn State was 15th in college football in EPA/Pass Allowed and 16th in Passing Success Rate Allowed. Even though it loses Brisker, having Porter and Brown back will be huge against Purdue's Air Raid attack.

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Purdue Boilermakers

Boilermakers Offense

O'Connell is back in 2022 to build off an incredible 2021 season. The senior finished last season with a 90.0 PFF passing grade (9th in FBS), averaged 8.5 yards per attempt and had a whopping 36 big-time throws (3rd in FBS).


Purdue (+2.5) strikes first!

— Action Network (@ActionNetworkHQ) November 6, 2021

The problem coming into this season is he will not have the weapons he did last year. Star wideout David Bell, Milton Wright and Jackson Anthrop — who were the top three pass catchers — are all gone.

Purdue did bring in a pair of Iowa transfers in Tyrone Tracy and Charlie Jones, who were victims of playing in a run-heavy offense with a below-average quarterback.

Broc Thompson is also back. He was the hero of the Music City Bowl last season, putting up 217 receiving yards and two touchdowns when Bell and Wright opted out.

Purdue throws the ball on 61% of its offensive plays, which makes the run game become somewhat non-existent. The Boilermakers do have top back King Doerue, but he only averaged 3.9 yards per carry.

Purdue loses two starters on the offensive line, but did bring in a couple of transfers to fill the void. This unit was bad last season, though, ranking 107th in Offensive Line Yards and 88th in Havoc Allowed.

Boilermakers Defense

The most underrated part of the Purdue team last year was its defense. The Boilermakers finished the season 36th in Success Rate Allowed, 34th in Finishing Drives and 20th in the EPA/Play Allowed.

Purdue does only bring back seven starters, with one of the losses being edge rusher George Karlaftis, which is massive considering he was a First Team All-American.

The linebacker core was a big part of the improvement of the defense last year, as well. They do lose their top tackler Jaylan Alexander, but everyone else is back, which should prevent Purdue from completely falling off a cliff.

The secondary loses both starting corners, Marvin Grant and Dedrick Mackey, but they do return Cory Trice after he suffered a season-ending injury in the second game of the season last year.

Trice has started 13 games since 2019 and is one of the best tacklers on the team, as he posted a 86.8 PFF tackling grade in 2020.

Penn State vs. Purdue Betting Pick

Penn State being a -3.5 favorite with a below-average starting quarterback, a worse offensive line and a worse front seven than last year is a tad too high.

Even though Purdue has to replace a lot of its weapons, O'Connell is a significantly better quarterback than Clifford, and the Purdue defense shouldn't be taking a massive step back from being 20th in EPA/Play Allowed.

I only have Penn State projected as a -0.4 favorite, so I like the value on Purdue at +3.5 (FanDuel) or better.

Pick: Purdue +3.5 

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