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Penn State-Indiana Game Preview

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Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

Penn State will do its best to halt a four-game Big Ten losing streak against the struggling Indiana Hoosiers.

Penn State (4-4, 1-4) vs. Indiana (3-4, 0-4)

Kickoff: Noon, Memorial Stadium, Bloomington, IN

The Line: PSU -7

TV: BTN Eric Collins (play-by-play), Chuck Long (analyst) Lisa Byington (sideline)

Weather: Mostly cloudy with temperatures in the low 40s, with a slight chance of rain. 

COACHES:

James Franklin:

PENN STATE RECORD: 4-4, 1st Year

OVERALL RECORD: 28-19, 4th Year

VS. INDIANA: 0-0

Kevin Wilson:

INDIANA RECORD: 13-31, 4th Year

OVERALL RECORD: Same

VS. PENN STATE: 1-2

...NOW THE FUN PART

INDIANA OFFENSE VS PENN STATE DEFENSE
Tevin Coleman. That's the name to know heading into this week's game against the Hoosiers. The junior running back should be near the top of the list of Heisman candidates, yet is often forgotten while toiling away on a team with a losing record that gets no national attention. Coleman already has 1,300 yards rushing in just eight games, and is averaging an eye-popping 8.0 yards per carry. He's also a solid option out of the backfield. While Coleman does the majority of his damage on the ground, he can also hurt the defense with a few timely catches each game. While Penn State has the best running defense in the nation, they have yet to line up against a running back of Coleman's caliber yet. Senior running back D'Angelo Roberts is also a capable back when giving Coleman a much-needed breather. Roberts has picked up 435 yards rushing and six touchdowns on the season, including two 100-plus yard efforts this fall.

Indiana's offense took a major hit when quarterback Nate Sudfeld was lost for the season with a shoulder injury against Iowa. In his place is freshman Zander Diamont, an undersized yet athletic player with very limited experience. Diamont has struggled in his first two starts in blowout losses to Michigan State and Michigan. In his only two games of playing experience, he's completed just 43.5 percent of passes for a measly 1.52 yards per attempt. Diamont has yet to throw a touchdown pass, but also has not turned the ball over either. He is capable of taking off and making plays with his legs, so it may be wise for Penn State to keep an eye on him to avoid giving up any unnecessary big plays. If Indiana is able to get the passing game going again, Shane Wynn is the teams best receiver. However, he has just two receptions for 12 yards since Sudfeld's injury.

INDIANA DEFENSE VS PENN STATE OFFENSE
The Hoosiers defense is once again far from stingy this season, giving up 446 yards and just under 35 points per game. That doesn't mean, however, Penn State's offense will finally find success against a Big Ten opponent. The Nittany Lions have scored five offensive touchdowns in five Big Ten games (with one of those coming in overtime). Several of those games had teams that matched up similarly to the Hoosiers defense statistically, yet still struggled to move the ball. At this point, we may be forced to come to the realization that it we'll have to wait until 2015 to witness any type of improvement.

In an indication of the quality of Indiana's defense, the team leader in tackles is a defensive back, sophomore safety Antonio Allen. Senior defensive end Bobby Richardson is a legitimate force off the edge, and should be primed for a big day against Penn State's struggling offensive line.

Indiana is much better at stopping the run than the pass, but if they can manage to get consistent pressure on Christian Hackenberg, they should have no problem limiting the production of the Penn State offense.  It is absolutely crucial for the Nittany Lion offense to find some type of rhythm against the Hoosiers. If they struggle once again to move the ball with any consistency, six wins and a bowl game will be awfully hard to come by.

SPECIAL TEAMS:
Freshman kicker Griffin Oakes is off to a solid start of his collegiate career, connecting on five of seven field goals with a long of 58. He's no Sam Ficken though.  The Penn State senior has one of the best stories in the nation. After struggling mightily throughout the career, he is now 17 of 19 on the season, with both misses coming as the result of blocks. Junior Erich Toth is a valuable weapon for the Hoosiers, averaging more than 40 yards per punt. Toth also has a knack for placing the ball inside the 20.

Wynn is a very dangerous returner, and could cause major problems for Penn State's kick units. In what should be a low-scoring affair, a big return by the Hoosiers could easily make the difference.

PREDICTION

INDIANA-16 PENN STATE-10
Based off what I've seen from Indiana, especially with the lack of productivity following Sudfeld's injury, it should be conceivable that Penn State's defense will once again play lights out and the offense will be able to put up enough points for a victory. But I thought the same thing against Northwestern. And Michigan. And Maryland.

It's becoming clear that while the root of the offenses' woes are caused by a young and inexperienced line, this unit is becoming more dysfunctional by the week. The defense should have another fantastic outing, and once again do everything it can to help carry the team to victory. But in the end, too much time on the field for the Penn State defense and a couple second half turnovers by our offense will allow the Hoosiers to escape with their first Big Ten victory of the season.