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5 X-Factors for Penn State Football to beat Purdue

Penn State Football kicks off the season in a hostile environment, at Purdue, and will need big performances from key players

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Penn State Nittany Lions Wide Receiver Parker Washington (3) runs with the ball after making a catch during the first half of the College Football game between the Auburn Tigers and the Penn State Nittany Lions on September 18, 2021, at Beaver Stadium in University Park, PA. (Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire)

The Penn State football season is inching closer and closer.

Thursday night, the Nittany Lions kick off the 2022 campaign at Purdue, against a Boilermakers squad with upset on its mind.

There’s a high number of returning starters for Penn State Football this fall, but who are the X-factors?

If Penn State Football is going to beat Purdue, the following the players need to have big games: 

OT Olu Fashanu 

Fashanu is responsible for protecting quarterback Sean Clifford’s blindside all season long.

Purdue’s edge rushers aren’t the best he will face in 2022, but they’ll be amped up to get after Clifford in the front of a Black Out at Ross-Ade Stadium.

Fashanu needs to hold the fort down and keep Penn State’s quarterback clean on Thursday night.

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QB Sean Clifford 

Clifford had a good year, statically, in 2021. Last season, Clifford passed for 3,100 yards with a 21-8 touchdown-to-interception ratio.

The sixth-year super-senior has shown he’s more than capable of putting up big numbers through the air and with his legs.

I expect Clifford’s experience to serve him well in a hostile environment. I think he’ll play well, and it’s imperative that he does, in order for Penn State to come away victorious. 

WR Parker Washington

Parker Washington was a bit overshadowed last season due to the outstanding play of Jahan Dotson.

However, that did not keep him from being incredibly productive as he hauled in 64 receptions for 820 and 4 touchdowns.

Against a rather weak Purdue secondary, Washington needs to get open consistently in order to keep drives going. His big-play ability will need to be on display as well. 

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S Ji’Ayir Brown 

Ji’Ayir Brown led the nation in interceptions in 2021.

Purdue rushing attack was terrible a year ago, so look for Jeff Brohm’s offense to involve a ton of shots through the air against the Nittany Lions. This spells trouble for the Boilermakers, in my opinion.

Penn State’s secondary in loaded with NFL talent and Ji’Ayir Brown might be the best of the bunch. He’ll need be a ball-hawk in order to contain the high flying-Purdue offense. 

DE Adisa Isaac 

Isaac missed all of 2021 with an unspecified leg injury.

However, if seen any practice clips of him this preseason, he looks very explosive in his movements.

Isaac will likely be the stater opposite Nick Tarburton at DE, but Isaac is the only one who possess the quick twitch pass rushing ability.

Getting pressure in the face of Aidan O’Connell is going to be critical Thursday night, and Adisa Isaac needs to come through. Isaac has 3 sacks in his Nittany Lion career. 

READ NEXT: Penn State Football game-by-game predictions for 2022

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