UNIVERSITY PARK -- Purdue gave Ohio State a tougher challenge than Penn State did, yet got destroyed by Minnesota.
Purdue gave undefeated Notre Dame a big scare (20-17 loss), yet gave up 41 points in a close win over Marshall.
Purdue has lost four in a row and appears to be dead in the Big Ten water, yet it also could be dangerous because it has a talented roster and a coach who could be fired if he doesn't finish strong and must try anything he can to stop his team's bleeding.
There's no telling which Boilermakers team will show up to play Penn State on Saturday. That's what makes this kind of game dangerous for the Nittany Lions, who not only have to worry about avoiding a letdown after losing their biggest game of the season, they also have no idea what to expect from their incredibly inconsistent opponent.
"They've played some teams very well this season and could easily have a few more wins than they have," PSU quarterback Matt McGloin said. "We know they're a dangerous team."
Purdue had Ohio State beaten two weeks ago before squandering a seven-point lead on a last-second touchdown and losing in overtime, 29-22.
Any team that can go on the road and challenge the Buckeyes like that must be tough. Right?
That same Purdue team came out this past weekend and fell behind at Minnesota, 44-7, before losing, 44-28. The Gophers entered the game winless in the Big Ten.
"The game got away from us really fast, and that's unfortunate," Hope said before later adding, "Throughout the course of the season, many times we've been a greatly improved football team. We didn't demonstrate that this past Saturday."
The Boilermakers' defense hasn't demonstrated much at all in the past month, allowing 39.2 points over the last five games. They're hoping standout defensive tackle Kawann Short will be able to play this week after suffering an ankle injury against Minnesota.
Purdue was in pretty much the same situation last week that Penn State is in this week.
The Boilermakers suffered a crushing loss in letting a huge game slip away against Ohio State. Then they had to go on the road the next week against a Minnesota team many people believed was not very good.
The Nittany Lions are coming off an emotionally draining loss in their biggest game of the season against the Buckeyes and now go on the road to face a Purdue team that some believe is not very good.
Notre Dame and Ohio State, however, would disagree.
"We lost a little momentum as a football team, and maybe some confidence as a football team, and those are the things that we're working on the hardest right now," Hope said.
If the Boilermakers figure those things out, they very well could add a second straight blow to what has been feel-good Penn State season.
"We'd better match their intensity, or we can get beat," PSU cornerback Adrian Amos said.
"We know it's going to be a tough game," McGloin said. "You have to have the mindset that they're going to do things you're not going to expect to see."
Lion coach Bill O'Brien will have to get his team prepared for a Purdue team that has its back against the wall and will be playing for pride. Just like the Penn State kids are playing for pride with no bowl game or conference title to compete for.
"This team only has four games left, and every game is a bowl game for us, every time we go out there," O'Brien said.
He later added, "Regardless of whatever is going on with any team that you play, and vice versa, we've got to go out there, and our players, I believe, understand that we have only four more opportunities. We only play once a week, that's all we have. So we're going to put it all out there hopefully on Saturday."