Penn State vs. Indiana Preview
Coming off their first of two bye weeks this year, the Penn State Nittany Lions (3-1) will travel to Bloomington this weekend to open their Big Ten schedule against the Indiana Hoosiers (2-2).
The Nittany Lions last played two weeks ago, in a rain-soaked contest against the Kent State Golden Flashes in Beaver Stadium. A strong run game, including three touchdowns from running back Zach Zwinak, together with a stellar defensive performance, propelled Bill O’Brien’s squad to their third win of the season, shutting out the Golden Flashes 34-0.
Indiana, who is also coming off a bye week, lost their last game, 45-28, at the hands of the Missouri Tigers on September 21. Missouri’s offense had a field day with Indiana, throwing for 343 yards, and rushing for 280.
Saturday will mark the 17th time these two teams meet, with Penn State never losing a game. The last meeting between these two resulted in a 45-22 victory for the Nittany Lions, last November in Beaver Stadium.
Indiana’s defense has been unimpressive so far this season, ranking 97th in the FBS in average points allowed. However, the Hoosier offense has exploded this year. Using a new, two-quarterback system, head coach Kevin Wilson’s offense is averaging 45 points a game this year, good for 11th in the FBS.
Penn State’s offense should have no problem with the Hoosiers defense. The dynamic running back trio of Akeel Lynch, Bill Belton, and Zach Zwinak (each with well over 200 yards on the year), should be too much for Indiana’s struggling defense to handle. Couple that with the lethal aerial duo of Christian Hackenberg and Allen Robinson, which has accounted for 448 yards and three touchdowns this year, and we could see some huge numbers being put up by the Nittany Lions this week.
The Nittany Lion defense however, has a much harder task this week. The Hoosiers’ offense is more comparable to Central Florida’s than Kent State, Eastern Michigan, or Syracuse. Indiana’s two quarterbacks, sophomores Nate Sudfeld and Tre Roberson, have torn up opposing defenses all year. Sudfeld, the more heavily used of the two, has thrown for 1,146 yards, and 11 touchdowns (which ranks second in the Big Ten), and has a 65.3% completion percentage.
The Hoosiers like to spread the wealth in their receiving game, evidenced by their four pass-catchers with over 150 yards and two touchdowns. On the ground, sophomore running back Tevin Coleman has rushed for almost 400 yards, and six touchdowns. The Hoosiers offense hasn’t scored less than 28 points in a game all year.
In order to stop such a potent offense, the Penn State defense must play at the top of their game, like we’ve seen in three of the four games. If they turn in a performance like the UCF game, this game could turn into an absolute offense vs. offense slugfest.
A win for Penn State would bring them to 4-1 for the first time since 2011, and a loss would drop them to 3-2, exactly where they were through five games last year.
For Indiana, a loss would drop them under .500, where they have finished every season since 2007. A Hoosier win would bring them to their first 3-2 start under third year coach Kevin Wilson.
Listen to Penn State’s match-up with Indiana Saturday, Oct. 4th, at 12 p.m. on ComRadio.
John McHugh is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.