Penn State makes their long awaited 2020 debut on Saturday afternoon, on the road, in Bloomington.
Indiana University Bloomington:
Location: Bloomington, IN
Indiana Football Facts:
Home Stadium: Memorial Stadium (52,929)
Head Coach: Tom Allen (5h season, 18-20)
Conference: Big Ten
Conference Titles: 2
Overall Bowl Record: 3-9
Penn State and Indiana have faced each other 23 times with Penn State holding the all-time series lead 22-1. The Nittany Lions have won each of the last six matchups after dropping their first game to the Hoosiers back in 2013, a 44-24 loss under then head coach Bill O’Brien. Since then, the Nittany Lions are 6-0 against the Hoosiers (as mentioned above), beating Indiana by an average score of 33.2-19. That being said, each of the last two matchups have been one touchdown games. All time, the Nittany Lions are 9-1 in Bloomington.
Last Season (8-5, 5-4):
The Hoosiers are coming off their best season in the Tom Allen era and won eight games, the first time doing so since the 1993 season. That being said, the Hoosiers did benefit from an easy schedule early on, defeating Ball State, Eastern Illinois (FCS), and UConn. In conference play, they defeated Rutgers, Maryland, Nebraska, Northwestern, and Purdue while losing to Ohio State, Michigan State, Penn State, and Michigan. They finished their season off with a 23-22 loss in the Gator Bowl to Tennessee.
Recruiting and offseason:
Indiana’s 2020 recruiting class was ranked 57th in the country and 12th in the Big Ten. Their top recruit in the class was four-star wide receiver Rashawn Williams out of Martin Luther King High School in Detroit, Michigan. He’s a former teammate of current Penn State class of 2021 commitment, four-star safety Jaylen Reed. The Hoosiers also added three transfers in TE Khameron Taylor (South Florida), DE Jovan Swann (Stanford) and OG Dylan Powell (Stanford).
The most notable offseason departure for the Hoosiers is quarterback Peyton Ramsey who transferred to Northwestern to finish out his collegiate career. He is the Wildcats current projected starting quarterback.
Overall, in 2019, the Hoosiers 31.8 points and 433.2 yards per game. They were extremely balanced offense throughout the season, averaging about 36 passing and 36 rushing attempts per game. In terms of success, the Hoosiers had a much better deal of success through the air, averaging 302.4 yards per game while averaging just 130.8 yards on the ground.
Indiana’s offense in 2020 will be a dangerous one and is one that will give everyone on their schedule some sort of fits. They have playmakers throughout the offense and have a dynamic dual-threat quarterback in Michael Penix Jr. Last season, he threw for 1,394-yards and 10 touchdowns (just four interceptions) last season while rushing for 119-yards. Perhaps most impressively is his 68.8% completion percentage (110-for-160).
At running back, junior Stevie Scott returns after a solid 2019 campaign that saw him post 845-yards and 10-touchdowns on 178-carries. He also had 211-receiving yards and a touchdown. All in all, on 204-touches, Scott posted 1,056 yards from scrimmage and 11 touchdowns. That being said, we shouldn’t forget about former four-star prospect Sampson James. James didn’t have a great freshman season by any means (81 carries for 275-yards and three touchdowns). But still has the talent to be a high quality running back for the Hoosiers.
In terms of the Hoosiers’ receivers, the two big names to know will be senior wide receiver Whop Philyor and junior tight end Peyton Hendershot. Philyor, had 70 receptions for 1002-yards and five touchdowns while Hendershot had 52 receptions for 622-yards and four touchdowns. While early in the offseason, it looked like the Hoosiers would be without Hendershot stemming from an arrest, the star tight end appeared on the Hoosiers depth chart for Saturday. One additional name to know will be senior wide receiver Ty Fryfogle.
With Tom Allen’s background being on the defensive side of the ball, it’s always an expectation that the Hoosiers will have at least a solid defense. In 2019, that’s what the Hoosiers were on the defensive side of the ball, solid. They allowed 24.4 points per game and 352.5 yards per game.
Opposing offenses didn’t have a great deal of success through the air or on the ground. Through the air, opposing quarterbacks threw for just around 213-yards per game while opposing running backs gained about 138-yards per game on average. That being said, opposing offenses did run on Indiana more so than they passed with the total yardage being more of a result of quantity than quality. Overall, opposing offenses averaged less than four yards a carry against the Hoosiers.
Their defensive line wasn’t extremely dominant but put up honorable stats, finishing the season with 78.5 tackles for a loss and 27 sacks.
Notable players to know include junior linebacker Micah McFadden (60 tkls, 9 tackles for a loss, 1.5 sacks, two INT), senior defensive lineman Jerome Johnson (43 tackles, 7.5 tackles for a loss, 5.0 sacks), fellow senior defensive lineman Michael Ziemba (33 tackles, 6.5 tackles for a loss, two fumble recoveries), and junior corner Jamar Johnson (25 tackles, 4.5 tackles for a loss, 3.0 sacks, two interceptions, one forced fumble, one touchdown).
The Hoosiers would have had fifth-year safety Marcelino Ball on this list as well, however, Ball tore his ACL at the beginning of camp last month and is out for the season.
Special Teams weren’t a strong suit for the Hoosiers last season for the most part. On kick returns, they averaged just 19.1 yards per return and just 3.7 yards per punt return. They lost senior kicker Connor Justus who was very good last season (45-for-47 XP, 18-for-21 FG) with sophomore Charles Campbell most likely taking over. He’s 1-for-1 in extra point opportunities and 2-for-2 in field goal opportunities for his career. Punter Haydon Whitehead does return after posting a quality but not great 42.5 yards per punt average last season.
Overall, this Indiana team is a dangerous Indiana team that is full of experience and is well coached. The Hoosiers over the last decade have played Penn State very well and they’ll give the Nittany Lions a good fight again on Saturday. Will they play at high enough level to make up for the talent gap is the biggest question for the Hoosiers entering Saturday in regards to their upset chances.