This weekend Bill Lynch and the Indiana Hoosiers will "host" the Penn State Nittany Lions at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland. Sadly, this is the last "home game" for Indiana this year, so I'm sure their seniors are thrilled they sold it away for $3 million. The Hoosiers are winless in the Big Ten and need to win out in order to make a bowl game and likely save Lynch's job. But Indiana is the only Big Ten team that has never defeated the Lions. Let's see how your BSD staff sees this one playing out.
Coming off the rollar coaster Ohio State game, I find it hard not to like Penn State in this game. For starters, they are essentially playing another home game, right smack in the of Larry Johnson Sr.'s wheel house. Matt McGloin will need to rebound from his uncharacteristically bad second half against Ohio State. Robert Bolden should get some reps. At this point, we have already earned a bowl game and the extra practices that come with it. Let both QB's get some more game experience heading into the off-season where they should battle it out for the job of QB1. Look for Evan Royster to have a big game, especially if the Whizzantor, Silas Redd is unable to play. Derek Moye should continue his march towards first team All-Big Ten. If Moye can put together two solid outings to close out the season, he will have a shot.
The defense will start the game already down their best LB (Michael Mauti) and they continue to rotate starters at DE because they haven't found the right i just yet. Indiana likes to throw the rock around the field, so look for Chaz Powell to get tested early. Penn State needs to get a pass rush on Ben Chappell to try and limit his effectiveness. Chappell should be able to put up some big numbers, especially if the Hoosiers are playing from beyond, but numbers won't matter much (think, Denard Robinson- the throwing version). It might not look pretty, but all that matters on Saturday is the Nittany Lions coming away with a win in Landover, MD.
Prediction: Penn State 34, Indiana 17
This is a noon Big Ten game against a crappy opponent in what will reportedly be a half empty stadium following a deflating loss to a rival. Needless to say, I'm looking at this game as a trap for Penn State. With Mike Mauti out on defense and Anthony Fera missing on special teams, the Lions will be missing some important pieces, too. Penn State followed the loss to Ohio State last season by sleep walking through the first half against Indiana. Don't be surprised if the same happens this year.
Hopefully, we'll see some Robert Bolden in meaningful situations. As I talked about over at SB Nation Pittsburgh earlier in the week, regardless of which quarterback you're behind right now, it'simportant for both guys to establish some momentum heading into the offseason. Both have proven they can handle a defense like Indiana's, so both should play.
Prediction: Penn State 31 Indiana 20
Indiana fans have been talking about how badly they are going to get beat by Purdue. To me, that's all I need to know. Anthony Fera is a loss, but it's not like we're losing a Jeremy Boone. Mauti is out, and that's a tough loss, but I don't think Indiana is hiding a Boom in their backfield. While this game in theory is a trap game, Indiana just doesn't have the weapons to take Penn State apart. Ohio State did a number on the defense last week, but they did things 100 times better than Indiana will. In the end it comes down to the numbers, and Penn State has beaten Indiana with worse teams than the one we have this year. Could Penn State lose? Sure. But does it seem likely? Not really.
Prediction: Penn State 42 Indiana 17
BSD Mike Says...
I've seen some talk about this being a trap game. Trap games are when a moderately good to bad team sneaks up on a title contender because they catch a sleeping giant in a hangover or looking ahead. I'm sorry, but when you have four losses on the year there's no such thing as a trap game. Penn State is bowl eligible at six wins, but they are in no position to coast through the rest of the year. Every game is important for bowl position and pride at this point. They can't wait to show people they are better than the team we saw in the second half in Columbus last week. I don't think the Lions will have any problems getting motivated.
I expect Indiana to jump out to a fast start because that's what they do. Their passing game will make Penn State look a little silly in the first quarter and they will score some points. But the Nittany Lion offense will eventually come to life and ground them into submission. Indiana will collapse in the second half, because like starting fast in the first half, that's what they do. Penn State rolls in this one.
Prediction: Penn State 45, Indiana 17
As Mike pointed out in the Indiana By-The-Numbers post, though 0-6 in the Big Ten, Indiana could easily be 3-3. They lost to Iowa, Michigan, and Northwestern by an average of five points. They lost by an average of 40, however, against Wisconsin, Illinois, and Ohio State. I feel confident that the Penn State team that shows up just inside the beltway tomorrow will be the one we've seen more or less since the Illinois Incident. I'm much less certain about which Indiana team shows up: the one that lost by 63 to Wisconsin or the one that was a fluke drop away from beating Iowa.
Regardless of who's under center, Penn State should be able to move the ball against this defense and put points on the board. The defining part of this game will be when Indiana has the ball. When they're on their game, Ben Chappell and an elite cadre of receivers can score. The Hoosiers are 16th in the country in passing yards, but the problem for Indiana is that they've only scored more than 20 points once in Big Ten play--against the swiss cheese that is the Michigan defense. I'm officially worried about this one, but I think ultimately the Hoosiers just don't have the colts to match up.
Prediction: Penn State 35, Indiana 17
Raise your hand if you think Indiana can disguise defensive coverages like Ohio State can. Yeah, me either. (Separate question, which shall go unanswered, is if our McSlinger would make those same mistakes again after having watched the film). The offensive line was pretty good against OSU in the first half, but still lost some battles. Game circumstances put extra pressure on them in the second half and they lost quite a few more. Against this level of talent, I expect second-half Northwestern level domination. Royster and the Rainbow Coalition all practiced this week, so we'll likely see all three RBs, even if they really have to go. Brown and Moye will continue the color theme, get open again and McShooter will find them. I'm thinking deft balance and big points.
Losing Mauti from this year's LBUnit is traumatic (I've read he's still possible vs. Sparty, but it's a dislocated shoulder, right, and he didn't 'travel' this week), since synergy has been an issue all year, and since it also probably means more Bani. With the stakes a little lower, I think we'll see more heavy rotations here and plenty more of Fortt and probably Hodges and even Carson. Last week, Devon Still got shutdown. Granted, as Mike noted in the defensive grades, it was due to double teams (largely his job at LBU), but this week sees a return to his Minn/Mich/NW level dominance. I was interested in JoePa's comments this week on Stanley and Massarro and will look for them to have improved games as well. Captain Ogbu will be just fine, thank you. The secondary is gonna be pressured a little, but not much. They actually fared pretty well last week, considering the time TP had before the launch of arm punts and wrist flicks. They may get beat a few times, but I think Chappell's bum hip is gonna be less protected than Adam Weber was in finding his 6'5" receivers, and his won't get open as often on this day.
Mostly, tho, I'll be looking to have a fine day tailgating at the House of Danny, where we'll see the truly ugly effect when a stadium project goes horribly awry. I've got a few BSD'ers lined up for a meet and greet and I'm very much looking forward to watching PSU bounce back with you fine people.
Prediction: Penn State: 49 Indiana 17