Statistically speaking, this was the last game on Penn State’s schedule they could realistically lose. While that chance was low, Indiana has managed to play close games, especially at home, against the top teams in the Big Ten. Unfortunately for the Hoosiers, this was another one in the long list of close games against top opponents that went the other team’s way.
As they have in their recent surge, the Nittany Lions started the game with a touchdown drive. More importantly, they stopped the Indiana offense from answering on their own first drive. Penn State’s offense was unable to do much for the rest of the half, but the defense was able to keep Penn State in the game still.
Credit the defense for doing another good job today. In the first half, Indiana consistently started drives with very good field position. The defense was still able to hold the Hoosiers to 14 points. Indiana realistically should have had more. Seven straight possessions starting inside the 40 (or better), but only yielding 24 points, is pretty freaking good. Yes, they gave up a ton of yards and ended up allowing 31 points, but when the Lions needed a stop, the defense was there to deliver it.
The offensive line keeps getting banged up, with Paris Palmer now out as well. Luckily for the Lions, the remainder of their games are against the bottom of the league. I’m not ready to hit the panic button just yet, but it’s starting to get real close. If you ask me, it feels a little similar to what we experienced on defense early in the season. In turn, the offense started sputtering. Running plays no longer had the effectiveness they’ve had in the previous weeks. Pass catchers weren’t able to haul in crazy throws from McSorley (who was himself hurt early in the game), and unfortunately, McSorley’s run without another interception is now over. Having thrown only three interceptions all season, he had two in this game.
The Nittany Lions were unable to take full advantage of Indiana’s four turnovers in the first half, coming away with only 7 points off turnovers. Once again, credit the defense for keeping them in this game. Some of the ineffectiveness on the offense was due to the injuries on the offensive line. Some of it was on McSorley, but a good chunk of it was on the wide receivers not being able to haul in easy balls that they would otherwise catch. They need to catch these if they don’t want to find themselves in similar situations the rest of the way.
There’s really not much else you can say of these Nittany Lions that hasn’t already been said. They came back in the second half of Minnesota, determined to win, and did everything in their power to come away with the game. They’ve had the same determination since, and no matter what is placed in front of them, no matter how many mistakes they’ve made, they’ve been able to overcome the adversity and come out on top.
Today was just another step in that determination. Penn State’s defense did everything it could to allow the Nittany Lions to win the game, but couldn’t hold Indiana all game. Think of the disaster that could have ensued after that botched snap in the first punt of the game. Think of the disaster that could have ensued by losing yet another lineman. Think of the disaster that could have ensued by throwing from their own end zone on 3rd and 20. Think of all of these little things. Many of these are things we have been taking for granted in the stretch, even though they’ve continued to pop up thoughout the season. These Nittany Lions would shrug off and get past these roadblocks as if there were nothing wrong. And once again, with their backs against the wall, these Nittany Lions just found a way to make it work.
Three Key Takeaways
1) You wanted adversity? You got it. - Penn State has made some of these wins look easy during their run, and some thought they’d need a little bit of a challenge on the road to confirm the team’s resolve. Challenge accepted.
2) Injuries are mounting again. - We don’t know how severe some of these are, but Penn State’s players are starting to show the wear and tear of the season, with several offensive players missing time in this game. Hopefully none of these guys miss much time.
3) Let’s never have Brock Huard again. - It seems Penn State plays like garbage every time Huard is on the call. Let’s not do that again thanks.
Penn State travels to New Jersey to take on Rutgers. Game is at 7:30, with BTN getting the broadcast. Unless armageddon happens, the Lions are going to win.