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Everything you need to know about Penn State's prime-time season opener tonight at Purdue

The Nittany Lions take on the Boilermakers in a prime-time showdown on FOX43, beginning at 8 p.m. in West Lafayette.

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Penn State opens its 2022 season tonight, jumping right into conference play with a prime-time road matchup against Purdue in West Lafayette, Ind.

The game will kick off at 8 p.m. on FOX43, with pre-game coverage beginning at 6:00 p.m.

Here's what you need to know about the game.

Penn State vs. Purdue

THE ODDS: While both teams are unranked in the preseason Top 25 polls and Purdue has the home-field advantage (and it's a Black Out game in Ross-Ade Stadium, to boot), Penn State is a 3.5-point favorite tonight. The over-under for the game is 53.5.

THE SERIES: The Nittany Lions have a 15-3-1 all-time record against Purdue. They last time they faced the Boilermakers was 2019, when they rolled to a 35-7 victory in Beaver Stadium.

Penn State has won the last eight matchups against Purdue, dating back to 2004.   

JUMPING RIGHT IN: Tonight's game is the fifth time Penn State has started the season against a Big Ten opponent. The first was against Minnesota, a 38-20 win, on September 4, 1993 in Beaver Stadium in Penn State's first game as a Big Ten conference member. 

The following year, the Nittany Lions began the season with a 56-3 win at Minnesota. The 2020 shortened season started with a matchup at Indiana, a 36-35 overtime setback. The Nittany Lions came out on top, 16-10, against No. 12/15 Wisconsin last season in Madison. 

STRONG START: Penn State has won 17 of its last 20 season-opening contests and five of its last six. The Nittany Lions are 111-22-2 all-time in season openers. 

ABOUT PENN STATE: The Nittany Lions start the season unranked for the first time in six years. Sean Clifford will kick off his sixth season at Penn State and make his 34th start under center. The 6-2, 212-pound redshirt senior is one of three Penn State players to reach 8,000 yards of total offense and one of three PSU quarterbacks to eclipse 7,500 career passing yards. 

He returns to lead an offense that has several prominent holes to fill -- but still looks loaded. The offensive line is a recurring project and is replacing three starters, but Clifford will have a number of targets to choose from in the passing game, led by veteran Parker Washington and Western Kentucky transfer Mitchell Tinsley. 

While the elements for success through the air are there, Penn State will also try to revamp its rushing attack. Last year's top rusher, Keyvone Lee, is back in the fold, but it's a pair of freshmen RBs -- Governor Mifflin grad Nick Singleton and Kaytron Allen -- who are expected to have fans in Happy Valley buzzing this season.

The Penn State defense faces a test against Purdue QB Aidan O'Connell, who like Clifford is starting his sixth season under center. An All-Big Ten selection, the 24-year-old O'Connell brings a wealth of experience that will test Joey Porter Jr. and the rest of the Lion secondary.

ABOUT PURDUE: The Boilermakers are coming off a 9-4 season under coach Jeff Brohm, who is trying to build a consistent winner. Purdue tied for second in the Big Ten West in 2021, helped by a pair of Top 5 victories over No. 2 Iowa and No. 3 Michigan State.

O'Connell finished the 2021 season with 3,708 yards passing and 28 touchdowns. He enters this season as Purdue's unquestioned leader and focal point of the offense.

The Boilermakers have some holes to fill, but expect O'Connell to find Iowa wideout transfers Charlie Jones and Tyrone Tracy, who appear poised to play big roles in the pass game.

The Purdue defense brings back LB/safety Jalen Graham (64 tackles, two INTs and seven pass break-ups last year) and safety Cam Allen, whose four picks led the defense last season.

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