Written By: Nick Holmes (@HoosierHolmes)
For the first time since 2012 the Hoosiers are making the trip to State College, Pennsylvania. Wilson and his crew fought valiantly last week, but came up short against the number one team in the land, the Ohio State Buckeyes. This week has the potential to go one of two ways, the Hoosiers could come out with the same amount of intensity and fire as they had last week and stun the Nittany Lions. Or, the team could still be reeling from the close loss and might come out flat. Additionally, two of the team’s top offensive players are also questionable heading into Saturday’s matchup, Jordan Howard and Nate Sudfeld. But let’s take a look inside the numbers that matter against Penn State.
54 - Temperature at kickoff in State College, PA. Absolutely perfect football weather.
0-8 – The Hoosiers have made the trip to State College eight times, leaving winless each visit. Is the season Penn State fans leave Happy Valley unhappy after facing Indiana?
2013 – This was the first and only time the Hoosiers have knocked off the Nittany Lions, 44-24.
16 – Before that 2013 victory, Penn State had rattled off 16 straight victories against the Cream and Crimson, all since the Lions joined the Big Ten in 1993.
107,282 – This isn’t the first time the Hoosiers have played homecoming guest this fall. But unlike their trip to Winston-Salem where they were playing in front of announced crowd of 22,508 (that's generous), the Hoosiers will have to contend with over 100,000 screaming, rabid fans looking to extend their win streak
4-1 – After dropping their first game of the season against Temple, who is 4-0, Penn State has rattled off four straight wins. The Hoosiers saw their four-game winning streak come to an end last week at the hands of number one Ohio State. There’s quite a bit riding on these game for both squads. Penn State needs the win to keep pace with other traditional blue bloods in the conference. And for the Hoosiers, they are out to prove that their effort against the Buckeyes is now the norm, not an aberration. Plus another win would draw them to within one victory of bowl eligibility.
24.4 – For as much as perceived offensive talent this team has, it’s not translated much on the field so far. Averaging just 24.4 points per game, which is no. 95 in the country. If the Hoosiers get their offense on track, can Penn State keep pace?
+9 – The Hoosiers have won the turnover battle in every game so far this season, most recently 3-0 (two fumble recoveries and one interception) over the Buckeyes last weekend. Continuing this trend will greatly improve Indiana’s chances of making it of Happy Valley with a win. However, forcing the Nittany Lions into errors won’t be as easy as it seems.
3 – Through their first five games, Penn State has turned the ball over just three times. So despite their offense being fairly inept, they have done a good job of taking care of the ball.
284 - For the third straight week the Hoosiers are facing a top 15 defense, as Penn State allows just 284 yards per game. Can the Indiana offense get things going early on, even with the potential absence of Sudfeld and Howard?
11.7 - In three losses against Penn State, the Kevin Wilson led Hoosiers have loss by an average of just 11.7 points. However, even that number is somewhere misleading, as the team lost by just six points in both 2011 and 2014, but got beat by 23 in 2012.
3 - The Hoosiers offensive line continues it's dominance against the pass rush, giving up just three sacks on the year. However, Jason Spriggs, Dan Feeney and company will have their hands full against a talented Penn State defensive front.
21 - The Nittany Lions have gotten to opposing quarterbacks 21 times this season, an average of 4.2 times per game, third best in the nation.
15 - One glaring weakness for Penn State's offense is keeping Christian Hackenberg upright, as they've given up 15 sacks in total through five games, an average of three per game, which is tied for 108 out of 127 FBS teams. Just like when Indiana played Wake Forest, this is another great opportunity for the Hoosiers pass rush to wreak havoc and get to the quarterback early and often. Getting the Nittany Lions off schedule, or forcing Hackenberg into bad throws, could be the difference in the game.
There are so many unknowns going into this game, it truly is difficult to make a prediction. With the potential absence of Sudfeld and Howard, along with possibility that Penn State could be without key play-makers, your guess is as good as mine. If the Hoosiers defense can continue to force turnovers, which won't be easy against this offense, then their chances of coming out on top raises significantly. Just as important is giving either Sudfeld or Zander Diamont plenty of time to survey the field and find their open options. This game certainly has the potential to be a lower scoring affair than what Hoosier fans have been accustomed to so far this season.