Quick 2018 Recap: It was a pretty standard year for the Hoosiers. They were somewhere around mediocre- far from greatness, but much better than the many years they spent as the Big Ten’s punching bag. They had a promising victory against Virginia early in the season, but only managed a 2-7 record in the Big Ten, besting Rutgers and Maryland. The Hoosiers had a shot at a bowl game, but could not muster win #6 as the season ended with back-to-back losses against Michigan and Purdue.
Offensive Player to Watch: RB Stevie Scott
Scott exploded on the scene as a true freshman, rumbling for 1,137 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground. Scott was the Hoosiers best running back from the start, but really came into his own during the second half of the season, rushing for 580 yards in the final five games. Scott is an imposing back at 6-2 and 233 lbs. who also has outstanding versatility for his size. He’s the type of back who can keep the clock churning and wear down a defense in the second half.
Defensive Player to Watch: S Marcelino Ball
Ball enters his senior season in what has been a very productive career with the Hooisers. He finds ways to make plays all over the field, whether it’s in coverage or behind the line of scrimmage — think of an even more athletic version of Marcus Allen. Ball was fourth on the team with 59 tackles in 2018, while also contributing 7.5 TFLs, 2.5 sacks, an interception and a forced fumble.
Penn State Wins If: Recent history of this series has toggled back and forth between the Nittany Lions under-performing in Bloomington with near-disastrous results, but playing mostly exceptional ball against the Hoosiers at home. Fortunately, this year’s contest is in Happy Valley, so hopefully this trend continues. If Penn State plays to their ability they should win comfortably. If they make regular mistakes and allow the Hoosiers to capitalize, they could easily let this game slip away. The biggest key will be to limit Scott and force a likely inexperienced quarterback to beat them with his arm in a raucous environment.
Indiana Wins If: Indiana finds success converting third downs while keeping Penn State’s offense on the sidelines with a steady dose of Stevie Scott. The Hoosiers will also need to find opportunities on special teams and defense, but history has proven they can rise to the occasion and make game-changing plays against major competition.
Major Changes for 2019: While incumbent starter Peyton Ramsey returns, Indiana will likely have a new starting quarterback this fall. Michael Penix Jr. returns from injury, and four-star transfer Jack Tuttle will be in the mix after his exit from Utah. The Hoosiers will also have two new coordinators under head coach Tom Allen, who is heading into his third full season at the helm. Kalen DeBoer will lead the offense after two seasons as offensive coordinator at Fresno State. Kane Wommack, one of the best names on the college football coaching scene, has been elevated to defensive coordinator in addition to his responsibilities a linebackers coach.