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5 storylines: Purdue vs. Penn State

10/31/2012

Every week, NittanyNation takes a look at five storylines that stand out: What should fans keep an eye on? What's the bigger picture? What might be on display Saturday?

Here are NittanyNation's Week 10 storylines:

1. Purdue changing quarterbacks. Caleb TerBush has started the last seven games, but Purdue coach Danny Hope has decided to try something different. The Boilermakers need some kind of spark, so Robert Marve will get the nod Saturday. The move seems obvious; Marve's quarterback rating is 17 points higher than Terbush's and the Boilermakers have dropped four straight. Penn State is preparing for both signal-callers, and the Boilermakers are hoping the switch leads to a change in their fortunes.

2. PSU'S OL vs. Purdue's interior. Kawann Short and Bruce Gaston will be among the biggest tests for Penn State this season, and they seem to be playing Penn State at the right time. The Lions struggled picking up the extra blitzer against Ohio State, and the Boilermakers definitely have a blueprint for success now. John Urschel and Miles Dieffenbach will have their hands full against Purdue, and running up the middle with Zach Zwinak could prove problematic.

3. Is the third-down defense back? The Nittany Lions seemed to revert back to their old ways against Ohio State, allowing the Buckeyes to go 5-of-6 in the second half -- including converting their last five third-down attempts. Penn State will have to tighten up its secondary, especially the middle of the field, to show Saturday was an exception and not the renewal of an early trend.

4. Field goals. Short has blocked four -- yes, count 'em, four -- kicks so far this season. Sam Ficken tends to knuckle-ball a lot of kicks, so this matchup does not bode well for Penn State. Ficken is one of the least-accurate kickers in the nation, and a close game here would not at all make O'Brien feel comfortable with Ficken warming up on the sideline. The sophomore kicker has apparently been nursing a minor quad injury, and Short has a knack for the big play.

5. Improving communication. Most Penn State players pointed to a breakdown in communication for the problems with Ohio State, and Bill O'Brien is focusing on shoring that up this week. Matt McGloin will usually give a silent cadence in loud atmospheres and, while it might be quieter at Purdue, the Lions are trying to make sure they don't see a repeat of Saturday. If the communication doesn't improve, Penn State's offense could struggle again.