The Nittany Lions are hoping to bounce back when they return home to face the Hoosiers.
No. 10 Penn State (6-1, 3-1) vs. Indiana (2-5, 0-4)
Kickoff: Noon, Beaver Stadium, State College, PA
TV: CBS, Noon - Tom McCarthy (play-by-play), Jason McCourty (analyst), Tiffany Blackmon (sideline)
Weather: A very pleasant day, with a high of 72 with some sunshine and little chance of rain.
PENN STATE RECORD: 84-37, 10th Year
OVERALL RECORD: 108-52, 13th Year
VS. INDIANA: 8-1
INDIANA RECORD: 32-45, 7th Year
OVERALL RECORD: Same
VS. PENN STATE: 1-5
Penn State leads the all-time series with Indiana 24-2, and have won eight of the last nine contests...the Nittany Lions have yet to lose to the Hoosiers in Beaver Stadium, posting a 12-0 record at home...Penn State enters this week ranked first in the nation in total defense, sacks and time of possession...the Nittany Lions are 12-4-2 in games played on October 28, including a 27-24 victory against the Hoosiers in 2000 and a 45-21 win in 1995.
INDIANA OFFENSE VS. PENN STATE DEFENSE
Indiana will be leaning on backup quarterback Brendan Sorsby as starter Tayven Jackson, a Tennessee transfer, is expected to be out with an injury. Sorsby is a big quarterback at 6-3, 230 lbs. who can move surprisingly well, and is showing some promise during his freshamn season. He is completing just over 50 percent oh his passes, but has tossed three touchdowns without an interception thus far. He can also use his legs to keep defenses on their toes, as well as elude pressure, which will come in handy against a Penn State defense that leads the nation in sacks. In his first full game of action, Sorsby went 15-of-31 for 126 passing yards with a touchdown against Rutgers, along with 49 rushing yards that included an 11-yard score.
Jaylin Lucas is the primary weapon on offense, leading the team in both rushing yards and receptions. Lucas also splits carries with senior Christian Turner, who is more of a bruising north-south runner. Cam Camper is the Hoosiers biggest playmaker at receiver, and is looking to return to form after dealing with some injury issues. Camper leads the team with a 16.8 yards per catch average, although he has only found the end zone once this season. The Hoosiers also look to 6’5’’ wide receiver Donaven McCulley often, using his size to try to create mismatches.
Indiana has struggled to find productivity as a unit this season, entering the week ranked at 100th or worse in the nation in most offensive categories, including passing offense (100th), rushing offense (110th), total offense (116th), and scoring offense (122nd), which is putting up a paltry 17.9 points per game.
Despite the loss, Penn State’s defense had an outstanding game against Ohio State, who were able to rely on getting the ball to Marvin Harrison, Jr. just enough to secure a win (especially when the Penn State offense contributed next to nothing). They will likely be without Chop Robinson, who left the Ohio State game in the first half with an apparent concussion. The Nittany Lions may also be without defensive end Amin Vanover, who left the game late with an injury.
PENN STATE OFFENSE VS. INDIANA DEFENSE
There’s no nice way to say this — Penn State’s offense is coming off an all-time clunker against the Buckeyes. While Ohio State possessed the best defense the Nittany Lions have faced this season by a wide margin, other teams have found moderate success moving the ball on the Buckeyes ‘bend don’t break’ style. Penn State could not get them to bend, and were helpless to scheme anything to move the ball. The pass-heavy attack resulted in balls either having to be forced into tight coverage or just thrown away with no open man in sight.
Now the question is — can they bounce back? While the level of defense won’t be the same this week, and every other game outside of Michigan, it seems that the offense has been regressing over the course of the season. Saturday will be a huge test to see if they can continue to impose their will against most defenses with long drives that produce points without big plays, or if the offense will continue to falter.
Indiana’s defense has performed well this season, and if not for the lack of production from the offense causing a 2-5 start, would be getting more recognition. The Hoosiers allowed just 23 points to #3 Ohio State, and held #18 Louisville to 21 points. They have done especially well at pass coverage, allowing just 191.7 yards per game through the air, making this a tough week for Drew Allar and the passcatchers to bounce back.
Indiana has a more difficult time stopping the run, allowing 174.4 yards per game which puts them at 106th nationally. This could hopefully result in big days for Nicholas Singleton and Kaytron Allen, who played well but had very limited carries last week.
Penn State’s offensive line will need a strong performance as the Hoosiers do a good job of getting in the backfield. Linebacker Aaron Casey is especially disruptive — not only does he lead the team in tackles by a wide margin, he also is the team leader with 8 TFLs and co-leader with three sacks. Western Michigan transfer Andre Carter has picked up where he left off after a successful stint with the Broncos, and has seven TFLs and two sacks, and regularly provides pressure from the edge. Indiana is hoping that its top defensive back, Phillip Dunnam, is available to play on Saturday. Dunnam is a rising star for the defense who excels in both coverage and run support. Not only does he lead the team with three interceptions, he is also second in tackles with 43.
Indiana kicker Chris Freeman has yet to miss this season, going five-for-five on field goal attempts with a long of 42 yards, and has made all 13 extra point attempts. Punter James Evans has a huge leg, averaging 45.4 yards per punt and blasted a season-long 70 yarder against Rutgers last week.
Penn State-30, Indiana-10
It’s hard not to imagine a little bit of a hangover after a disappointing loss in such a highly-anticipated game. While this team gives maximum effort each game (and to be clear, a lack of effort was not a problem last week), they are human after all.
Indiana’s defense is capable of getting the offense off track, especially if they come in discombobulated. The Hoosiers are capable of making plays in the backfield, which could easily doom drives if the Nittany Lions are expecting to go methodically drive the length of the field.
I’m expecting a tight first half, but Penn State pulls away after halftime as the defense takes over and the offense can get things moving more easily against a tired Indiana defense.