Even in a normal year, you’re never quite certain how the team will actually start the season. Throw in the new coordinator, assistants, lack of spring practice and *gesturing at everything in general* it makes it even more difficult. If that wasn’t enough, instead of a mid-major cupcake, you’re facing a chaos team capable of exploding at anytime, whether they detonate you or themselves in the process is the unknown. So, instead, I’ll address what I hope to see out of this game. How well does Sean Clifford and the offense take to Kirk Ciarrocca’s scheme and how much do they really roll out as the Buckeyes are already in the queue next week? What can we expect from the receivers under Taylor Stubblefield? How will the Wild Dogs look without Sean Spencer at the helm and how much has the secondary improved over last year? While Journey Brown will be missed, there’s plenty of talent in the room and we should see plenty of freshman everywhere getting work with the free year to play with. This should be a Nittany Lion victory, but Indiana never seems to make it easy.
Penn State 31, Indiana 20
IT’S FINALLY TIME FOR PENN STATE FOOTBALL BAY BAY!
Off to Bloomington to start the season. For whatever reason, Indiana always seems to give Penn State all they can handle and then some. Saturday will likely be no different.
This is a good Indiana team. In my opionion, next to Ohio State, this is the best offense Penn State will face all season and this is at worst their third most difficult game. Throw in Penn State breaking in a new offense without a full, normal offseason to install it and no Journey Brown, and the offense could scuffle a bit, at least early on, in this game.
The biggest factor in this game will be in trenches. Penn State returns an experienced offensive line that is their best offensive line since at least 2013, while the Hoosiers are breaking in multiple new starters on their offensive line. Even without Brown, look for Penn State to run the ball well on Saturday and for the defensive line to have a big day in John Scott Jr.’s debut as James Franklin’s defensive line coach. Penn State will also need Sean Clifford and the passing game to make at least one or two clutch plays in this game.
It won’t be easy, and may take a turnover or two as well as a big play or two from the passing game, but the Nittany Lions survive and start the season 1-0.
Penn State 30, Indiana 28
Penn State has historically struggled with the Hoosiers, especially over the last decade. Tie in the fact that this is the season opener, and on the road, and it’s a recipe for a potential letdown. Not so fast, my friend.
Sean Clifford won’t have to outduel Michael Penix in this one. As is often the case on the road, look for Noah Cain, Devyn Ford, and the freshmen backs to shoulder the majority of the burden for victory, but don’t be surprised if the defense forces a few turnovers to relax the Nittany Lion faithful.
Penn State gets a hard-fought 34-24 win.
Penn State 34, Indiana 24
Let me start by saying that I expect the first half of this game to be WEIRD. Lots of emotions, on the road, no one in the stadium, missing players, lack of practice/prep time to learn a new offensive playbook. I think the first half is gonna be rust city.
As a result, I expect the score at halftime to be something like 14-14 or maybe even Indiana with a slight lead. But I think Penn State shakes the rust off, and takes it to the Hoosiers in the second half, pulling away for an ultimately convincing victory.
Penn State 42, Indiana 21
Cowards, you’re all a bunch of cowards! Except Chris Lucia who is decidedly not a coward. All month I’ve heard about how great Michael Penix is and how this is the best Indiana team yet. Guess what? Doesn’t matter. Penn State is better than the Hoosiers at every single position on the field and will show as much on Saturday. The Nittany Lions will top 250 yards on the ground as well as through the air and Parker Washington will prove to be college ready from the first snap.
Penn State 38, Indiana 20
Seeing Indiana become a trendy upset pick in the college football media landscape has set me off. I’m ready to be a non-conformist and say that PSU not only avoids the upset, but they win in a more comfortable than usual fashion in Bloomington.
Yes, the Hoosiers may lead early on, but once the team shakes off the rust, look for Kirk Ciarrocca to unleash holy hell on a shaky Hoosier defense with a combo of Noah Cain/Devyn Ford pounding the rock and Sean Clifford hitting his receivers for some big gains (h/t to Taylor Stubblefield’s technician work on a unit that has underachieved the last couple of years).
The defense will have their hands full initially figuring out Michael Penix (he ain’t Peyton Ramsey, folks) but I think that D-line ultimately wins the battle in the trenches and forces Penix to run for his life, while the front seven keeps Stevie Scott in check. Good guys get the road dub to open this long-awaited, abbreviated, season.
Penn State 41, Indiana 24
When Penn State plays at Indiana, it is almost always weird. This year will be no different — except it will be the good weird.
Penn State: 37, Indiana 17
It’s finally here! The season gets started for the Nittany Lions, who, outside of losing their best player to op-out, returns a big core of players back from a team that was pretty good in its own right. Indiana, on the other side, won eight games for the first time since the 90s, so the Hoosiers will be feeling pretty good when they take the field. Indiana quarterback Michael Penix Jr. feels pretty good about the Hoosiers’ chances, so this game should be fun, if anything.
Penn State 56, Indiana 17
Predictions for a season opener/early-season games have always been a crapshoot. That is exponentially compounded this year considering the lack of spring ball, several scheduling shuffles, recent departures, and the roughly 783,291 external factors that are impacting the lives of players and coaches. This just seems to be a year where chaos reigns supreme both on and off the field.
For these reasons, and the fact that Indiana plays well against ranked opponents at home, I expect a tight contest on Saturday. Indiana has a capable offense that will be difficult to shut down, and the Penn State offense may need a couple series or so to get off the ground. I’m expecting a tied game at halftime, with Penn State taking the lead in the third quarter and holding on to it, with a crucial fourth quarter clock-churning drive led by Cain.
Cain leads the way for the ground game with 90 yards and a score, while Ford and Holmes each pick up 50+ yards on the ground. Clifford starts off strong with 250 passing yards and two scoring strikes, going to Washington and Freiermuth.
On defense, Ellis Brooks matches his tackles to his jersey number with a team-leading 13 stops, while Jesse Luketa helps the cause with eight stops and a key interception. Antonio Shelton gets down and dirty in the trenches with three TFLs, while Shaka Toney continues tormenting teams from the state of Indiana with two sacks and a forced fumble.
Penn State 34, Indiana 24