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An Emotional Drain

Penn State looked drained for a good portion of its game against Indiana.

Penn State cornerback Kalen King (4) celebrates with safety Jaylen Reed (1) after Reed intercepted a pass in the first half of a NCAA football game against Indiana Saturday, Oct. 28, 2023, in State College, Pa. Dan Rainville / USA TODAY NETWORK

It’s a tale as old as time. Penn State plays Ohio State, loses a hard fought battle, and goes on to lay an egg the next week. This has been the script for as long as James Franklin has been the coach, with the exception of one season*. On Saturday, that script played out largely the same way it has been for the past 10 seasons.

Indiana, a team that desperately needs to stack wins if it wants to make a bowl game, came into the game with a plan in mind. Attack the Nittany Lion offense, force Drew Allar into uncomfortable situations, and get the ball out quickly to the outside. It worked to near perfection.

Penn State had allowed one play of over 40 yards coming into this contest. Indiana had two in the first half alone. And so, the Hoosiers kept within arms’ reach of the Lions, one quick strike after the next.

This, of course, outlines how the defense had by far its worst performance of the season, at least from a statistical standpoint. The absence of Chop Robinson, even if from an emotional standpoint was felt throughout the game. Brandon Sorsby was pressured plenty, but he did just enough to take two leads, then tie the game, down the stretch.

The Lions, on the other hand, looked just as hopeless on offense as they did a week ago against Ohio State. For close to 55 minutes, every yard was intensely fought for. Nicholas Singleton and Kaytron Allen spent the majority of the game grinding out each and every yard, to the tune of 132 for the game (81 of which were Allen’s). Then, in those five minutes, the three-yard runs turned into eight yard runs, and, after their backs were against the wall with a tied game, the Nittany Lions finally did what everyone had hoped they could do. They had an explosive play, and would take the lead for good.

The tale is old as time. The result, however, hasn’t always been positive. Part of it can be attributed to the level of competition. Part to Penn State’s own determination. But, no matter how you look at it, by avoiding the loss (something other teams around the country can’t say), the Lions get to hope for another week.

Stats and Storylines

301 - The number of passes Drew Allar threw without an interception. That’s the most by a quarterback in his starting career.

57 - The ensuing touchdown pass by Allar. The first explosive play of 40+ yards since the West Virginia game.

10 - The tied score of the Ohio State/Wisconsin game with a little over 7 minutes left in the third quarter. Ohio State also struggled with their post-Penn State opponent(s) in 2022, 2021, 2018, and 2017. One wonders if it’s just a big game with big emotions for both teams.

Big emotions - If you look hard enough, you’ll see a tweet floating around with Allar ringing the victory bell with a purpose. After last week’s tear-filled postgame conference, no one can claim Allar isn’t lacking in that department. That may serve him well moving forwrad.