Wednesday, October 26, 2016

No. 24 Penn State's preparation remains even-keeled as Purdue comes calling

                       Photo Credit: The Blueprint Michigan

NOTE: Penn State cornerbacks coach Terry Smith took head coach James Franklin's place on Tuesday's Big Ten teleconference because of a funeral.

For the first time in the James Franklin era, the Penn State Nittany Lions (5-2, 3-1 Big Ten East) are ranked in the AP Poll at No. 24 as a road trip to West Lafayette, IN against the Purdue Boilermakers (3-4, 1-3 Big Ten West) takes place on Saturday (Noon ET, ABC Sports or ESPN2).

Despite scoring 17 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to upset No. 2 Ohio State, 24-21 on Oct. 22, the game week preparation remains the same as Penn State looks to snap a seven-game road losing streak, dating back to Nov. 22, 2014.

"We are going to approach it as business as usual," Terry Smith said on Tuesday's Big Ten teleconference. 

"We work on the belief that the next game is the most important game, no matter who the opponent is. There is more excitement given our kids are buying into the process all year and after a game like this past weekend, the buy-in becomes even greater. We have not won on the road, so this will be a good test for us to get our first road victory."

Boliermakers interim coach Gerad Parker's debut witnessed a four-point halftime lead fizzle as the then-No. 8 Nebraska Cornhuskers scored 17 unanswered points in a 27-14 loss on Oct. 22.

Even in losing, Parker knows the culture change will not come overnight and used Penn State's win against Ohio State last Saturday as an example.

"We're fighting and trying to change the future and do things like Penn State did to Ohio State last week," Parker said.

Purdue's offense leads the Big Ten in passing yards per game at 306.0 and quarterback David Blough's stats have been gaudy as he is responsible for two of three 400-yard passing games this season in the Big Ten.

Smith knows Penn State's defense could be in for a long day if the Blough can find a groove on Saturday.

"[Blough] can really throw and has some really good receivers on the perimeter who are athletic and create challenges for us," Smith said. "He has thrown for over 300 yards the last two weeks and we have our work cut it and have to figure out a way to keep the pass game to a minimum."

Parker knows its stiffest test could come Saturday as reigning Big Ten Player of the Week Brandon Bell finished with a career-high 18 tackles (seven solo).

"More than anything for us, we want to find out where [Brandon] is going to be and how he gets there and it is not an easy answer, but you have to put your best schemes together to find a way to get him blocked," Parker said. "I think there is a big piece of that in the run game to find ways to get our best players the ball first hand."

Series history:

Penn State leads the overall series at 13-3-1 and rides a seven-game winning streak over Purdue.

In the last meeting on Nov. 16, 2013, running back Zach Zwinak amassed three touchdowns in Penn State's 45-21 route of Purdue at Beaver Stadium.

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Follow Geno Green on Twitter @TheGenoGreen.