Thursday night was the big opening night for Big Ten Football as The Penn State Nittany Lions traveled to West Lafayette to take on the Purdue Boilermakers from Ross-Ade Stadium.
Both teams would be led by their experienced 6-year quarterbacks, with O'Connell under center for the Boilermakers and Clifford for the Lions. Clifford, who was out to start the second half with a leg injury, would come back in making the game's biggest mistake but later deliver a masterful game-winning TD drive in the waning seconds.
The game had seven lead changes between the two teams. Penn State would build on a 14-10 lead before the half with an unbelievable 67-yard TD pass to Brenton Strange with just 2 seconds remaining in the half.
This could have left the Boilermakers deflated and the home crowd subdued. However, Purdue would take control in the third quarter by scoring two unanswered TDs. The first was from King Doerue on a 2-yard run where he would lose his helmet. And the second on a 7-yard TD pass from O'Connell to Charlie Jones.
However, Penn State could answer with a 29-yard TD pass to KeAndre Lambert-Smith, where he nearly cartwheeled and eluded several Purdue defenders on his way to the end zone.
Purdue could not respond and had to put their defense back on the field, trailing by 4 with 8.5 minutes remaining. With no success in the running game that had averaged 3.1 yards per carry, the Nittany Lions continued to take it to the air. This is where Clifford made the biggest mistake of the game. He overthrew his open receiver in the middle of the field, intercepting it by Chris Jefferson, who took it 72 yards to the house for the TD.
Both teams would get very little going on offense on the following four drives. The Boilermakers also had their own troubles running the ball. So instead, they put the ball in their 6-year Quarterbacks hand to help run the clock out. However, several incompletions would stop the clock and give the ball back last time to the Nittany Lions on their own 20 with 2:22 to play.
This is when Clifford took over. He would complete 6 of 7 on the final drive and finish it off with 10 yard TD pass to Keyvone Lee with only 57 seconds remaining to take the 35-31 lead and win.
Purdue takes on Indiana State next Saturday afternoon from Ross-Ade stadium as they look for their first win of the year. They will return to Big 10 play on October 1st as they travel to Minnesota to take on the Gophers.