After a 4-0 start to the James Franklin era, the tables have turned on the Penn State Nittany Lions who are now on a four-game losing streak, looking for a game where their dominant defense is finally supported by a competent offense. Indiana boasts one of the nation's best running back in Tevin Coleman, but have been forced to call freshman Zander Diamont into duty after a mid-season injury to stud signal-caller Nate Sudfeld. Will Penn State snap their losing streak and become one win away from bowl eligibility or will Indiana get their first Big Ten win of the season in front of their home fans? To the predictions!
Nick Page: Penn State's defense is too stout to allow Tevin Coleman and IU to get anything of significance going. Hull and Co. will not let him run like he normally does, and the freshman QB they have won't be able to play well enough to overcome that. PSU's offense likely struggles, but the D and Sam Ficken win the game for us.
Penn State 16-6
Nick Polak: I don't think I'll be predicting Penn State to put up more than 20 points anymore this season. Until the offense shows that they can move the ball effectively for at least a full quarter, the only way they will reach the 20 point threshold will be if the defense scores twice.
That being said, Indiana is not good. They've had moments of brilliance, like their win over Mizzou, but overall they are not a good football team. The potential their offense always has to break out is slightly scary, but anyone who doubts this Penn State defense is a fool. Thankfully, Indiana's defense is arguably the worst Penn State has faced all season. One can only hope that Hackenberg will FINALLY look at least a little bit like the guy who tore up UCF, and the offensive line will continue to take small steps forward as they have been the last few games.
As far as stats, Hack goes for 216 yards and a touchdown to Jesse James, who was recently discovered to still be a member of the team. DaeSean Hamilton has a big day with 128 yards, and continues to build on his new Penn State freshman record. Akeel Lynch has a modest day on the ground to the tune of 81 yards, but fumbles away a ball in the redzone. Marcus Allen continues his fantastic debut with 9 more tackles and a pair of pass breakups, Mike Hull brings down a whopping 17 ball carriers, and the space eating monster in the middle of the field known as Austin Johnson picks up a sack. Finally, $am Ficken continues building up his Groza resume with field goals of 28, 41, and 49.
Penn State 16-13
bscaff: Are you ready for some ugly football? GREAT!
Indiana QB Z(ool)ander Diamont finished 5-of-8 for 23 yards passing last week against Michigan. That showed dramatic improvement from just one week prior, when he torched Sparty for 11 yards passing on 16 attempts. The Hoosiers haven't eclipsed 225 yards of total offense since Nate Sudfeld left the Iowa game three weeks ago (/sad trombone noise), despite fielding an awfully solid O-line. Nevertheless, I think RB Tevin Coleman's streak of 100-yard games ends on Saturday.
And, of course, the Indiana defense is still, more or less, the Indiana defense. Some things never change. They puked up 632 yards to Sparty, and another 404 to Michigan. That's right, friends: Michigan gained over 400 yards of offense against these Hoosier defenders, without, as far as I can tell, any help from offensive players from other, better teams. Best of all for John Donovan, Indiana's tiny little cornerback #16 can't tackle very well. BRING FORTH ALL THE SMOKE ROUTES! Our Lions might just zoom past the 20 point barrier this week. No, probably not. But I'm telling you there's a chance.
Penn State 22-13
Matt: This game scared me a little back in September. Indiana had knocked off Missouri in Columbia, Tevin Coleman was running over everyone, and Nate Sudfeld was playing well at quarterback. The last part there is key. Nate Sudfeld was at quarterback. Since then, the Hoosiers have been hit by the injury bug, including a shoulder injury that has Sudfeld out for the year, and an ACL tear that knocked out backup Chris Covington. Since then, the Hoosiers offense has been all Coleman. He has been great, but with ZANDER Diamont at QB, they have thrown for just 35 yards and scored 27 points. A one dimensional offense that relies on the run has to have Mike Hull, Anthony Zettel, and Austin Johnson licking their chops.
On the other side, PSU will face one of the worst defenses in the country. Sure, PSU's offense is one of the worst as well, especially on the ground, but things should get at least somewhat easier against a Hoosier defense giving up nearly 35 points per game, and 145 over their last 3. It won't be pretty, and there will be more $am Ficken field goals than touchdowns, but PSU will taste victory for the first time since September 20th.
Penn State 26-14
Nick Blonde: Traditionally, Penn State has played notoriously close games on the road in Bloomington, even if its merely an illusion of the scoreboard like '94, and last year's game was the nadir of Bill O'Brien's coaching tenure. With Indiana down to its third string quarterback, Tevin Coleman will be much easier to handle. The "chaos team" can't fully embrace its title without an offense that can keep up in a track meet. Penn State's offensive line, Hackenberg, playcalling, and any combination of the three has made some pretty bad defenses look good, but this week just feels different as the Nittany Lion defense should be able to give the offense short fields and maybe some points toward the effort.
Penn State 38-9
Tim A: Another tough outing is in the cards, here. The game starts out as a giant derp-fest reminiscent of matchups between two teams trying to end lengthy losing skids. PSU commits a couple of turnovers, giving a short field to the Hoosiers, which they take advantage of for a TD and a field goal. In addition, QB14 throws a pick-six as well. However, this same QB14 pulls a Taylor Swift (shakes it off) and leads a couple of lengthy TD drives in the second half to give PSU a six-point lead midway through the 4th quarter. Needing one final stop stop to end the game, PSU's defense suffers a momentary lapse and allows IU to complete a 10-yard pass that ends up going for a lot more, but comes up just short of a TD, when the IU receiver is tackled at the one yard line. The defense stiffens when it absolutely has to, stuffing two straight runs up the gut, stifling a Zander Diamont option run on third down, and another run up the gut on 4th and goal. Bob Shoop jumps out of the coaches booth and onto the field to high-five his guys for putting up their greatest stand of the season, persevering the victory, and ending a nightmarish past couple of months for the team. I know, sounds improbable, right?
Penn State 22-18
Chad: [to be read in the voice of English soccer commentator Martin Tyler]
The in-form Sam Ficken bangs in a hat-trick and the Nittany Lion defense keeps a clean sheet in a rather dire affair, though it's an impressive feat considering the class star man Tevin Coleman brings for Hoosiers. Penn State have a tough time generating any biting attack of their own as the struggles of Christian Hackenberg continue, however they'll comfortably win the possession battle with Akeel Lynch and the fullbacks controlling the tempo. Come on you Lions!
Penn State 9-0
Dan: Normally when previewing a game, I wonder how Penn State is going to score enough to beat whatever opponent that week gives us. This week, I'm struggling to do find points for the Indiana side. Sure, Tevin Coleman is the nation's leading rusher, but outside of the Ohio State game, have you seen Bob Shoop's defense? (Side note: How was he not elected to some office on Tuesday?) After Nate Sudfeld's unfortunate injury, it seems as though Indiana has lost all semblance of an organized attack.
The Hoosier front seven may be the softest we see for the rest of the season which means we should see a lot of Akeel Lynch and time for Christian Hackenberg to hit his core of freshman receivers. I still don't expect a blowout as John Donovan is still running the Penn State offense, but I like the Lions to stop the skid and gain a bit of confidence before games against Temple and Illinois and a shot at bowl eligibility.
Penn State 23-7
FROM THE INTERVIEW:
Devon: Penn State 20-17
FROM THE PREVIEW:
Jared: Indiana 16-10
FROM THE PODCAST:
Cari: Penn State 21-10
Bill: Penn State 31-10
Adam: Penn State 27-6