Quick 2019 Recap: In their third season under Tom Allen, the Hoosiers finally broke through after a pair of 5-7 seasons, going 8-5, which marked the first time since 1993 that the team finished a season with eight wins. As a result, #9WINDIANA became a hashtag that got serious run on social media heading into a Gator Bowl matchup against Tennessee.
With a little over ten minutes to play in the Gator Bowl and Indiana leading 22-9, it appeared as if #9WINDIANA was on its way to becoming reality. However, the final four minutes saw Tennessee score a touchdown and extra point to cut the lead to six, recover the ensuing onside kick, and score another TD and extra point to take a 23-22 lead, which would end up being the final score. It was a heartbreaking finish in what was otherwise a highly successful season for Tom Allen’s crew.
Offensive Player To Watch: QB Michael Penix Jr.
Penix took over as the team’s starter last season, tossing ten TD’s to only four interceptions for a total of 1,394 yards, before suffering a season-ending injury, which led to Peyton Ramsey reclaiming the starting gig. Ramsey has since grad transferred to Northwestern, meaning that this is Penix’s job to lose.
Penn State did not have to face Penix last season and instead went up against Ramsey for what appeared to be the seventh time (they will likely get an eighth dance with Ramsey when PSU hosts Northwestern to open Big Ten play). Penix poses a strong arm and with his top two receivers returning in Ty Fryfogle and Whop Philyor, as well as tight end Peyton Hendershot, look for the Hoosier passing attack to give PSU’s back seven one of their toughest tests of the season.
Defensive Player To Watch: LB Micah McFadden
He may not be nearly as talented or heralded as the Micah who suits up for Penn State, but IU’s middle linebacker has a real nose for the ball and puts himself in position to make plays, and it showed last year with his 60 tackles, which included ten tackles for a loss and one-and-a-half sacks. McFadden even added in two interceptions, to boot. If he can improve on his numbers from a year ago, it could go a long way towards making Indiana’s defense more respectable after a shaky season last year.
Major Changes for 2020: Besides Ramsey bolting for Evanston, the biggest changes in Bloomington come on the coaching side, as offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Kalen DeBoer took the head coaching job at Fresno State. This resulted in tight ends coach Nick Sheridan being promoted to OC/QB coach. The Hoosiers also lost strength coach David Ballou, who left to take the same position at Alabama. Replacing Ballou will be Aaron Wellman, a former assistant strength coach at Indiana.
Penn State Wins If: They are able to live by James Franklin’s “1-0 this week” mentality, because they sure as hell are going to need it coming off a season-defining game against Ohio State. PSU no doubt has the edge in talent here, but Bloomington is a place where PSU has historically found itself in dogfights with the Hoosiers, and it’s hard to see this one being any different. Did I also mention this game is being played on Halloween?
Indiana Wins If: They catch an emotionally spent Penn State team lacking in focus and are able to take full advantage of it, as Penix and the Hoosier passing attack carves up the Nittany Lions secondary, while the defense plays above their heads and come up with a few turnovers, creating shorter fields for the offense to be able to convert into touchdowns.