(WHTM) — Penn State opens its 2022 season on the road against Purdue on Thursday, September 1. The Nittany Lions finished the 2021 season with a 7-6 record after a loss in the Outback Bowl to Arkansas.

Penn State begins Big Ten play on the road for the seventh straight season, and 12th time in 13 years. The Blue and White are playing on a Thursday night for the first time in program history.

Here’s what you need to know before kickoff on Thursday, September 1 at 8 pm on Fox Sports.

Battle of sixth year quarterbacks

Both Aidan O’Connell for Purdue and Penn State’s Sean Clifford enter their sixth season’s in their respective programs. To have two highly experienced quarterbacks in both offenses is a unique side effect of the COVID-19 pandemic and extra year of eligibility.

James Franklin is paying attention to O’Connell who broke Purdue’s completion percentage record at 72 percent.

“I don’t care if you’re throwing on air, that’s impressive,” Franklin said.

Clifford heads into his fourth year as the Penn State starter and fourth year as captain for the Nittany Lions. Penn State has talked at length about not over-taxing Clifford and expecting him to put the weight of the offense on his shoulders. Another year older and wiser, offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich says Clifford knows his limits and will be more poised.

Plenty of focus on that duo of Yurcich and Clifford, as it is the first season the QB will play under a returning OC.

Manny Diaz Defense Debut

Here’s what we want to know about Penn State this season: How does the Manny Diaz defense compare to Brent Pry’s style of defense?

Pry was a prominent part of PSU’s identity for the past eight seasons before taking the head coaching job at Virginia Tech. Pry’s was a bend don’t break style of defense that allowed a lot of yards, but was one of the best in the red zone.

Diaz is different. He pressures the quarterback more, looks for turnovers and is relentless against the explosive plays… or at least that’s what we’ve been promised.

Against sixth year quarterback O’Connell, limiting his accuracy is essential if Penn State expects to win.

Series vs. Purdue

This is the first time since 2019 Penn State and Purdue will play each other; Penn State won that game 35-7 on Oct. 5, 2019 where the pass rush tallied 10 sacks. The Nittany Lions hold a 15-3-1 lifetime series lead over the Boilermakers and have won the last eight consecutive meetings dating back to 2004.

Kickoff Forecast

Dry, dry, dry. Early September football usually features a little bit of warmth which could test the Nittany Lions conditioning. But it is nothing compared

Game kickoff is set for Thursday, September 1 at 8 p.m. Plus join the abc27 sports team after the game for a full recap and analysis.