5 takeaways from Penn State and Purdue’s barnburner of a season opener

·4 min read

Who said Big Ten Football was boring?! Thursday night, primetime week one with the entire college football world tuning in, or at least flipping the channels between this and the insane Backyard Brawl. Penn State and Purdue delivered a classic game. I feel bad for anyone who turned this off after halftime, because everything went off the rails after the 30-minute feeling out process.

This was a high-scoring 35-31 affair that had everything. With a few star-making performances, a back-and-forth fourth quarter, and a comeback moment from an unlikely candidate, this week one classic is a great way to kick off the week for the Big Ten. Here are the big takeaways.

So that's why Charlie Jones transferred...

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

One of the biggest questions for Purdue this year was at receiver. They didn’t have a bad cast by any means, but who was going to step up as the leader? It just had to be Chuck Sizzle.

Charlie Jones transferring away in the offseason was a massive blow to the Hawkeyes, even more so now with their current lack of depth at receiver. After his 12-catch, 153 receiving yards week one performance against Penn State, it became quickly apparent how wasted he was at Iowa.

He put up nearly half his total from last year in one game with the Boilermakers! This could be a long one for Iowa fans if this is who Charlie Jones really is.

Penn State chose the wrong quarterback... until they didn't

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Boy, was there a lot of freezing cold takes after the game, especially from myself. Before the game, Desmond Howard said he had Penn State specifically because of Sean Clifford. We all laughed at that statement, and laughed some more as Clifford struggled badly.

He nearly threw the game away with a horrendous fourth quarter interception. That was after everyone saw the insane potential backup Drew Allar had for a series.

After all the clowning, the calling for Franklin’s job (those should still not be ignored), Sean Clifford led the game-winning drive. He didn’t really do anything spectacular, but he torched the Purdue defense with a thousand paper cuts. Overall, his stat line suggests a way better game than what was played, a theme for his career. He might be the hero at the end of the game, but he shouldn’t be let off the hook.

A learning experience for Manny Diaz

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It was an up-and-down game for new defensive coordinator Manny Diaz. His defense looked great in the first half, holding Purdue to only 10 points. Then, some cracks started to show in the second half. Purdue stormed ahead in the third quarter on the arm of Aidan O’Connell, the Boilermakers scoring twice to start the third quarter. His defense locked down when it mattered, though, sacking AOC twice through creative blitzes to finish the game.

I’m not so worried about letting up yards through the air for Penn State. Aidan O’Connell is one of the better quarterbacks in the nation, and apparently Charlie Jones is fantastic as well. They still made O’Connell earn every single yard. The run game is something to keep an eye on. While Purdue didn’t put up the best night on the ground, there were holes for the backs to follow. Something to watch for later in the season against teams like Michigan and Minnesota.

Joey Porter Jr. is a star

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

If the college football masses didn’t know about cornerback Joey Porter Jr. before this game, they do now. The son of longtime Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Joey Porter, he carried the load for the Penn State secondary. For some reason, O’Connell kept trying him and it never really worked when targeting him. He should’ve had a pick-six to start the game, too. Watch out for Porter Jr. come draft time.

Purdue is going to be a hard place to play

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This is a pretty obvious one, but it is going to be hard to come into Ross-Ade Stadium and come away with a result. That crowd for primetime Thursday night was electric, and a perfect illustration of why college football is amazing. Purdue isn’t the first name to come to mind for hardest venues to play in as an opponent, but they are definitely a notable one. Iowa plays at Purdue in week nine.

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Story originally appeared on Hawkeyes Wire