College football Thursday night winners and losers: Penn State, Pitt prevail; Purdue’s missed opportunity

Penn State has spent the last two seasons in the second or third division of the Big Ten, trailing conference heavyweights Ohio State and Michigan on numerous occasions while being passed by Michigan State, Iowa, and Wisconsin.

College football Thursday night winners and losers

The Nittany Lions’ 35-31 victory over Purdue, one of the top teams in the Big Ten West, on Thursday doesn’t necessarily confirm expectations that they will return to the top of the conference this season and be a contender for the New Year’s Six.

However, by avoiding what would have been a catastrophic setback to begin the season, PSU maintained its position as a contender for a major bowl, avoided a growing quarterback controversy, and managed to pull off the kind of close victory that escaped the squad from the previous year.

The Nittany Lions and coach James Franklin can instead concentrate on an upcoming slate of games against Ohio, Auburn, Central Michigan, and Northwestern that might keep the club undefeated going into a crucial meeting against Michigan in October.

Sean Clifford, a senior quarterback, threw a pick-six to put Purdue ahead 31-28 early in the fourth quarter. PSU then took the lead with an 8-play, 80-yard drive that took just under a minute to complete.

Clifford’s 282 throwing yards, four touchdowns, and late heroics—while not flawless—should quell some of the clamour to transfer the offence to true freshman and top prospect Drew Allar.

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