A week after an emotional letdown midway through the fourth quarter, the Lions need to get back on their feet. Unlike after the loss to Michigan, Penn State won’t be back at home under the lights, but instead visiting Bloomington. Luckily the Lions avoid the dreaded noon kick, but I still expect the team to be a bit sleepy to get started.
Ultimately, however, I expect PSU to do to Indiana what OSU did to them. A less talented team may hang out for a bit, perhaps even into the fourth quarter, but the skill disparity takes hold and the Lions pull away.
Penn State 35, Indiana 21
Familiar refrain - how can Penn State shake off last week’s disappointment? The Lions have played their two best games of the year the past two weeks, so can they keep that momentum going? Memorial Stadium has been an irritating place to play over the years, dating back to the famed 35-29 game in 1994.
Indiana has big issues too and could be debuting a new quarterback. Whatever shows up on offense, Tom Allen has long gained the respect of Big Ten coaches for putting together gameplans to slow down running games and neutralize star players. That means Parker Washington will draw a lot of attention and Penn State could struggle running the ball, especially early and with a patched together offensive line. I think it’s ugly for a half - much like Michigan’s win in Bloomington - before Penn State wins, but doesn’t cover.
Penn State 27, Indiana 17
It would not be a surprise to see Penn State start slow on Saturday. It’s Bloomington, where they seemingly always start slow. Indiana has hung with most of their opponent through the first 2-3 quarters most weeks, and the Nittany Lions tends to battle an emotional hangover and start slow the week following Ohio State.
That said, Penn State is head and shoulders better than Indiana. This week what you want to see most is Penn State take care of business against an inferior Hoosiers team, as well as young players who could play a big role in 2023 and beyond continue to play well and take steps forward in their progression/development. Hopefully that means plenty of Drew Allar on Saturday.
James Franklin is just 3-5 ATS the week following Ohio State during his Penn State tenure. Saturday afternoon, he improves that number to 4-5 as Penn State, despite a potential slow start, and rolls to victory.
Penn State 35, Indiana 17
While I don’t like how Penn State could potentially be working with a patchwork O-line due to injuries piling up, this is not your older sibling’s Indiana team that is usually talented enough in key spots to give PSU a real scare in Bloomington.
The Hoosiers might be replacing their starting quarterback who has been riding the struggle bus lately, don’t have a run game, and just lost their No. 1 receiver for the rest of the season. Not to mention, Indiana’s defense hasn’t exactly been up to Tom Allen’s standards this season.
Look for PSU’s defense to feast while the offense slowly but surely grinds down the Hoosiers D. I also expect to see a larger dose of Drew Allar at QB beginning with this game, as it’s time to have an eye towards preparing him to be the man for next season.
This has the feeling of a game that may be uncomfortable for a while, but not one where you feel like PSU is truly in danger of blowing it.
Penn State 31, Indiana 14
Punt Week is here! The team that will be participating the most will be the home team. With that said, Penn State may have a slow start given how last week played out. Look for Kaytron Allen to help control the clock, and Nicholas Singleton has another big run as well.
Oh, and the Allar kid gets sizeable playing time as Penn State pulls away in the second half.
Penn State 28, Indiana 10
(Originally appearing in the Game Preview)
The first half of this game seems to foreshadow the reminder of the season. If the team comes out motivated, they should be able to reel off four wins to close the season, getting to 10-2 and a likely NY6 Bowl destination. If they come out listless, there could be another loss or two ahead, and yet another late-season collapse.
I’m going with the former for two main reasons - this team seems to have outstanding leadership and resolve and will show up ready, despite the previous week’s heartbreak. The other is that this is a total match-up nightmare for the Hoosiers, especially with their pass-heavy offense that also gives up turnovers and sacks way too often. Despite the regular slow starts in Bloomington, the tenacity of the defense should be contagious, getting the team in the right headspace to play to their ability and easily take down the Hoosiers.
Penn State jumps out to an early lead, the Hoosiers do enough to make it competitive heading into the half, before Clifford, Washing, Allen, Singleton, etc., put together some big plays to put the game out of reach in the third quarter.
Penn State 31, Indiana 13*
*If the conditions are like the Northwestern game I’m going 21-7, good guys.