Game Grades: Indiana
No. 9 Penn State (9-1, 6-1) got back on track with a 34-27 win over the Indiana Hoosiers (7-3, 4-3) on Saturday at Beaver Stadium. The win sets up a top-10 showdown in Columbus next week with the Ohio State Buckeyes that will more than likely be for the Big Ten East title. Here are some game grades for Saturday’s performance:
All year, we’ve seen the Nittany Lions do something that they haven’t been able to do in previous years: sustain long drives using the running game. In the fourth quarter, Penn State had an 18-play, nine-minute touchdown drive that put the game away. Journey Brown had his second straight 100-yard game, and Sean Clifford was productive running the ball as well with a 38-yard touchdown.
We still need to see more from the wide receivers, though. Once KJ Hamler went down with an injury, the passing game became a non-factor. Someone other than Hamler or Pat Friermuth has to step up for this offense to hit its full potential.
It was another rough week for the Penn State secondary, as Indiana quarterback Peyton Ramsey was 31-for-41 for 371 yards. The secondary looked the most out of sorts that it has looked all season in the first quarter, as Indiana receivers were wide open downfield on numerous occasions. Whether it’s a scheme or a talent issue, Penn State has to try to fix the secondary or next week could get very ugly very fast.
At least the defense did force two turnovers, which turned out to be huge. The linebacking corps of Micah Parsons, Cam Brown and Jan Johnson continues to play phenomenally.
Special Teams: A-
Jake Pinegar hit two field goals, one of which was a 47-yarder. Jordan Stout was his normal self with touchbacks, and Blake Gillikin was his normal self in punting for the Nittany Lions. The return game wasn’t a factor, as it hasn’t been for much of the season, but in the Nittany Lions’ defense, once Hamler went down with an injury, they weren’t trying to do much in the return game.
James Franklin’s message the entire week was “don’t let Minnesota beat you twice,” referring to the idea that the Nittany Lions couldn’t dwell on their heartbreaking loss last week during Saturday’s game. That didn’t happen, which is a great look for the coaching staff.
There were still some in-game head-scratchers. The defense looked like it struggled to adjust for the second straight week. However, the fourth-quarter offensive game plan was perfect. Franklin trusted his offense by going for it on fourth down twice, including a fourth-and-goal from the 1, which ended up paying dividends, as it sealed Penn State’s victory.
Kevin McConlogue is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.