Penn State and Purdue won't start the 2022 season slowly. Two Big Ten teams coming off different seasons in 2021 will open the season Thursday night.
Purdue surprised the Big Ten. After going 6-12 in 2019 and 2020, the Boilermakers went 9-4 and 6-3 in the Big Ten last season, tying for second in the Big Ten West with Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Penn State went 7-6 (and 4-5 in conference) after going 4-5 in 2020, losing to four ranked teams and Illinois in nine overtimes.
Simply reaching the postseason is never the goal in State College, Pennsylvania. Not for an 11-2 Big Ten East champion.
Penn State beat Purdue 35-7 in 2019 at Beaver Stadium. Penn State has won 15 of 19 matchups.
Purdue's success in 2021 was due in part to receiver David Bell (93 catches, 1,286 yards, 6 TDs) and defensive end George Karlaftis (41 tackles, 11.5 TFL, five sacks, three fumbles forced).
While neither will be easy to replace, the Boilermakers have Aidan O'Connell back.Once O'Connell won the starting QB job in 2021, he kept it. O'Connell had 3,708 yards and 28 touchdowns.
He enters 2022 as the unquestioned starter, and some wonder if he's the league's second-best QB behind C.J. Stroud.