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Penn State Nittany Lions

Game Preview: No. 18 Penn State Nittany Lions VS. Indiana Hooisers

It’s been a tough few weeks for Penn State. The Nittany Lions travel to Bloomington looking to keep their New Years Six bowl hopes alive.

  Penn State Indiana
2018 RECORDS 4-2 (1-2) 4-3 (1-3)
HEAD COACHES James Franklin (64-34, 40-19 with Penn State) Tom Allen (9-11, 9-11 with Indiana)
KICKOFF 3:30 PM ET
TELEVISION ABC
STREAM WatchESPN
SPREAD Penn State -15

Righting the ship

As mentioned above, Penn State desperately needs a win here. The Nittany Lions have bounced back from consecutive losses before, beating Rutgers by 29 points after losing to Ohio State and Michigan State last season. If James Franklin’s team is going to repeat that trend, they’re going to need to play a more inspired game on offense.

Trace McSorley has thrown for over 300 yards in each of his two games against Indiana. After his underwhelming performance last Saturday, that would be a welcome sight. Miles Sanders could have himself a good day as well, as the Hoosiers are allowing 156.8 YPG on the ground.

Figure out the Defensive tackle rotation

With Ellison Jordan’s status up in the air and the announcement that Fred Hansard is done for the year, Penn State is razor thin at defensive tackle. For a unit that was seen as a weakness for the lack of depth at the beginning of the season, this is basically the worst case scenario.

As Dan pointed out in snap counts, Kevin Givens was forced to play more snaps than any other d-tackle has played in the Franklin era. He was clearly gassed by the end of the game and that was an obvious factor in Sparty’s comeback. Sean Spencer needs to find at least one guy who can take on a larger role so the starters aren’t gassed by the third quarter. Whether that’s Antonio Shelton, PJ Mustipher, Damion Barber, CJ Thorpe, or Yetur Gross-Matos playing inside a bit more, remains to be seen. 

Avoid the chaos team

For the past few seasons, Indiana has been seen as a Chaos Team. They’ve often flirted with a major upset but just can’t seem to get over the hump. With the Nittany Lions coming off two heartbreaking losses, this game looks the perfect opportunity for Tom Allen to finally get that signature win.

James Franklin needs his team to be focused. Whether it was the bye week or the lingering effects of the Ohio State game, the Nittany Lions looked flat all day on Saturday. Peyton Ramsey is a good enough quarterback to make you pay for your mistakes. Everyone will need to be up if they want to escape Bloomington with a win.

Get crazy and buy that oversized inflatable Halloween decoration you secretly want if…

  • Trace McSorley goes for 300 yards again. It’s hard to imagine Indiana can keep it close if McSorley plays the way he did at the start of the season.
  • Someone shows enough at defensive tackle to the point where we can all breathe a little bit easier. My bet is on PJ Mustipher having himself a game.
  • Jake Pinegar connects on two field goals. The staff has to realize that they need a kicking game if they’re going to have a successful season. It’s time for Pinegar to get his confidence back.

Throw a chair into your neighbor’s pool à La bobby knight if…

  • Peyton Ramsey is able to take advantage of an aggressive Penn State defense and has a career-best day through the air. Ramsey’s favorite target Nick Westbrook could have a Felton Davis-esque game.
  • Penn State suffers another injury along the defensive line. You hope it doesn’t happen but with the way this season is gone, I wouldn’t be surprised if another guy gets bitten by the injury bug. 
  • The Hoosier defense forces three or more turnovers. Tom Allen was one of the best defensive coordinators before being promoted to head man. Indiana could walk away with a win if they win the turnover battle, leading to a long flight back to State College.

prediction in gif form

Back on Track

Let’s get this thing back on track, shall we?

Penn State will come out and play the way we expected them to after the Ohio State loss: angry. Trace McSorley will have an inspired performance and keep his 300-yard streak against the Hoosiers alive. Juwan Johnson will put together a 100-yard performance and score at a pair of touchdowns. I’ve predicted that for Johnson like three times already, but I’ve got to be right eventually, right? Miles Sanders will rip off another big run but will be held relatively in check overall. The Hoosiers defense will force Penn State to settle for a few field goals but the Nittany Lion defense continues to play well and keeps the Hoosiers off the board in the first half. Both offenses come more alive after the break but Penn State eventually pulls away to 31-10 win.

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