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2023 Opponent Snapshot: Indiana

Punt Week comes to Happy Valley in late October

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: APR 15 Indiana Scrimmage Photo by Jeffrey Brown/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

EDITOR’S NOTE: This continues a series of 12 posts doing a quick “snapshot” preview of each of Penn State’s upcoming 2023 football opponents in order of the schedule. Today, it’s a look at division foe Indiana who will visit Beaver Stadium on October 28.

Quick 2022 Recap

The charmed 2020 season is a distant memory in Bloomington. Since that magical (by program standards) season that started when Michael Penix almost reached the pylon, Indiana is 6-18. Last year, the Hoosiers started 3-0 including what wound up being a suprisingly good win against Illinois. But, there was a 7-game losing streak that followed, ending with blow out losses to Penn State and Ohio State. Tom Allen has been forced to shuffle his coaching staff the last couple years in order to keep himself off the hot seat. Injuries were another major issues for Indiana in 2022 and, in general, there’s very little buzz around the program that figures to finish at the bottom of the division again.

Offensive Player to Watch: WR Donaven McCulley

McCulley is a junior wide receiver who has now made the full-time switch to the position after coming to Bloomington as a quarterback. Last year, he had 16 catches for 169 yards and figures to be one of Indiana’s top playmakers, especially with Cam Camper - their best receiver last season - recovering from a torn ACL. Indiana is an absolute mess at the quarterback position with Dexter Williams, who played well in mopup time against the Lions last year, out with an injury he suffered in IU’s final game. So, the battle is between redshirt freshman Brendan Sorsby and Tennessee transfer Tayven Jackson (half brother of IU basketball All-American Trayce Jackson-Davis). Whoever winds up behind center will likely try to get the ball to McCulley, who is a dynamic athlete.

Defensive Player to Watch: LB Aaron Casey

Indiana’s defense has a ton of newcomers with nine of its top 10 tacklers from 2022 having departed. But the top tackler of that group is back - and Casey was rated by PFF as one of the top pass rushers from the linebacker position. He will be counted on for leadership and production in a group that will try to use a lot of new faces to be the typical thorn-in-the-side that IU’s defenses have typically been under Tom Allen.

Indiana Wins If

Penn State is still hungover after the Ohio State game from the previous week. Last season in Bloomington, the Lions were fresh off an emotional loss to the Buckyes, but shook off a slow start to roll to a 45-14 win against Indiana. That would almost certainly have to be part of the recipe for Indiana to pull the late-season shocker and earn its first ever win in Beaver Stadium.

Penn State Wins If

They avoid the letdown, lookahead spot. As noted, this game follows a trip to the Shoe and the two weeks after are a road game at Maryland and then a home showdown against Michigan.

Meanwhile, Penn State is 24-2 all-time against the Hoosiers and they’ve won every game in Happy Valley by at least a score. This should be a game where Penn State’s defense can rattle what will still be an inexperienced quarterback and the Lions should get a chance to go down the depth chart before facing its final big challenges of the season.