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Know Your Foe: Indiana Hoosiers

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The Nittany Lions look to bounce back against a top-25 ranked Indiana Hoosiers.... wait, did I just say a top-25 Indiana Hoosiers?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 02 Northwestern at Indiana Photo by James Black/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

After seeing a potential perfect regular season come to an end last weekend in Minneapolis, the Penn State Nittany Lions will look to bounce back this Saturday afternoon when they take on the top-25 ranked Indiana Hoosiers. Yes, you’ve read that right, at the time of this being published, the Hoosiers are ranked in the top-25 of the AP Poll, they’re positioning in this week’s playoff poll, will be found out later this evening.

Indiana University Bloomington

Location: Bloomington, Indiana
Enrollment: 48,514

Indiana Football Facts:

Home Stadium: Memorial Stadium (52,656)
Head Coach: Tom Allen (3rd season, 16-17)
Conference: Big Ten
Conference Titles: 2
Overall Bowl Record: 3-8

Series History:

This is a series that has been dominated by Penn State with the Nittany Lions winning all but one of their 22 matchups against the Hoosiers. That one loss came in 2013, a 44-24 loss to the Hoosiers in Bloomington. Outside that one game, it’s been all Penn State.

Last Season (5-7, 2-7)

In Tom Allen’s second season as the full-time coach of the Hoosiers, Indiana started off hot but struggled over their last nine games. After starting the season 3-0 with wins over FIU, Virginia, and Ball State, the Hoosiers won just two of their last nine games. Those wins came over the always struggling Rutgers Scarlet Knights and Maryland Terrapins.

Recruiting and offseason:

The Hoosiers put together a strong 2019 recruiting class that was 37th nationally and eighth in the Big Ten. It was headlined by a trio of four-stars in ranked RB Sampson James, DE Beau Robbins, and LB Cameron Williams.

What they did last week: BYE WEEK

This past week, the Hoosiers were on a bye week after taking care of a struggling Northwestern Wildcats program easily, the week before. Despite the 34-3 win over Northwestern, the Hoosiers lost starting quarterback Michael Penix Jr.

Offense:

The Hoosiers are averaging 34.0 points per game this season, best for 34th in the country entering this week. A rather balanced offense, the Hoosiers are averaging about 72 plays a game with a rather 50/50 attack between the pass and the run. That being said, most of their offensive damage has come through the air this season.

Quarterback Michael Penix Jr was having a tremendous season but with a collarbone injury, he’s out for the remainder of this season, giving Peyton Ramsey the reigns as the starting quarterback. Ramsey in his limited work this season has been strong, completing 113-of-157 passing attempts for 1,302-yards and nine touchdowns. He’s also thrown just three interceptions on the season. Ramsey had a tremendous performance a few weeks back against Nebraska, passing for 351 yards and two touchdowns.

Ramsey’s top target this week will be without a doubt junior wide receiver Whop Philyor (WHAT A NAME!). Philyor has already totaled 59 receptions for 813 yards and three touchdowns. So far this season, he has three games of 10+ receptions and three-games of 100+ yards. The Hoosiers have four other receiving threats with over 300+ yards for the Penn State secondary to keep a track of including always dangerous tight end Peyton Hendershot.

On the ground, the Hoosiers are only averaging 139-yards of rushing per game and are led by sophomore Stevie Scott. Scott this season has 148 rushing attempts for 737 yards, an average of five yards per carry. He also has nine touchdowns on the season.

Defense:

The Hoosiers defense has improved every season under head coach Tom Allen and 2019 has been no different. This season, the Hoosiers are only allowing 20 points per game but they’re probably not that good. That being said, when facing top-25 teams, they’ve struggled, allowing 40-points to Michigan State(!) and 51 points to Ohio State. In addition to that, four games against Rutgers, Eastern Illinois, Northwestern, and Connecticut where they allowed a total of six points has shaped that number quite a bit.

Opposing offenses are averaging just 310.6 points per game this season. Teams have had slightly more success through the air with 176.3 yards on average while opposing rushing attacks have been a little bit more in check with 134.2 yards per game.

Like last week with Minnesota, there is no one dominant player on Indiana’s defense but is more of a collective group effort.

Special Teams:

The Indiana special teams unit this season has been strong especially their kicking game. Sophomore Logan Justus has missed just one kick all year, going 34-for-35 in extra points and 12-for-12 in field goal attempts. For his career, he’s 66-for-68 and 27-for-30 with a career long of 50-yards. Punter Hayden Whitehead has been strong as well, averaging 41.9 yards per punt over 36 punting attempts.

Their return game isn’t extremely dangerous, their best returner only averaging 19.6 yards per kick return while they’ve struggled in punt returns, averaging just five yards per return.