Staff Predictions: Penn State Vs. Indiana
Two underwhelming 4-1 Big Ten teams are meeting at noon on ESPN this Saturday. Our staff isn’t necessarily confident in the Nittany Lions, but we’re generally less confident in the Hoosiers.
Kaitlyn Dividock (season record 4-0): Indiana 21, Penn State 13
It breaks my heart to say it, but Indiana is going to spoil Penn State’s beloved Homecoming weekend.
The Hoosiers are coming off of an unbelievable performance against Ohio State, and even though they lost, I feel like the heavy momentum created by that game will carry them confidently into week six. The Nittany Lions, however, are coming into this game with a mediocre (and ugly) win against Army under their belt, which is just making this pick easier for me to deal with.
What I really think it’ll come down to is how well Indiana’s explosive offense will perform against Penn State’s reliable defense. With injuries to the Hoosiers’ starting quarterback Nate Sudfeld and running back Jordan Howard, doubts may arise in regards to their offensive production. But I feel like backup quarterback Zander Diamont won’t have any trouble stringing together big plays if his name is called (evident in his 79-yard untouched touchdown run last week against the Buckeyes). Diamont also has talented receivers in his arsenal that could really stir up chaos for Penn State’s battered secondary. Penn State’s defense will keep this game close, but Indiana will ultimately be too much for the Lions to handle.
Ben Berkman (season record 4-1): Penn State 17, Indiana 13
Before it almost toppled No. 1 Ohio State, Indiana was one of the least convincing 4-0 teams in the nation. Narrow escapes over Southern Illinois, Western Kentucky, and Wake Forest set up its narrow loss to the Buckeyes. Whether the Hoosiers near-upset was a fluke result thanks to the #IUfb4gameday hype or proved they’re a real threat, and whether they’ll have a letdown Saturday or ride the momentum of a loss that felt like a win remains to be seen.
These things are clear, however: Penn State’s won four in a row at a home for the first time in a long time, Saquon Barkley was practicing Wednesday evening after missing the Army game, and Penn State’s defense has proved it has enough juice to make up for the offense’s utter ineptitude. Expect a close, defensive battle Saturday, but a Homecoming crowd, a healthier Nittany Lion depth chart, and a slight skill advantage should tilt the score in Penn State’s favor.
Matt Coleman (season record 3-1): Penn State 21, Indiana 13
Sports are funny. One week, a team may have its best game of the season (Indiana’s performance against No. 1 Ohio State) while another team’s performance against a weak team is greatly concerning to the fan base (Penn State’s performance against Army). You may think Indiana, given its great performance against Ohio State, beats Penn State this week. You are wrong.
It’s a different week for Penn State and Indiana alike. As well as Indiana played against Ohio State, it’s not playing Ohio State this week. It’s playing a worse team in Penn State. As badly as Penn State played against Army, it’s playing Army. It’s playing a better team in Indiana.
All of this boils down to a Penn State victory one way or another. It’s Homecoming. Yes, last year’s Homecoming game was a disaster. This year’s won’t be. Indiana and Penn State are two good football teams.
They’re pretty even. Sometimes, it’s best to just put away the stats and the numbers and just say, “Penn State will win.” As we’ve all seen, there’s no saying how this offense will perform. So, I won’t go into numbers explaining why Hackenberg will throw for 400 yards against Indiana’s secondary or whoever the running back is (thank you James Franklin for the uncertainty of that) will go for 150 yards because I honestly don’t know if they will or won’t. This team is confusing. Penn State wins.
Doug Leeson (season record 4-1): Indiana 16, Penn State 10
Screw it, who cares, I’m buying into the Indiana hype despite knowing full well that both teams actually suck. Indiana looked great against Ohio State and Penn State looked good against Rutgers and (for a little bit) San Diego State. I was fortunate enough to not have to watch last year’s punt-riddled 13-7 affair in Bloomington, but this year I won’t be so lucky.
In all honesty, I’m giving Indiana the nod here because of its momentum from last week, and Penn State’s futility against Army raises too many questions. I mean, James Franklin went crazy trying to answer them at his post-game press conference. If Saquon Barkley is healthy enough to see significant minutes, this game could be fun — but I don’t think that’s the case, and Indiana will win a low scoring, ugly affair that unfortunately will make someone 5-1.
David Abruzzese (season record 4-1): Penn State 21, Indiana 20
The Big Ten slate is finally upon us, and although Ohio State is a week away, don’t discount the Hoosiers. Ezekiel Elliott is the Big Ten’s leading rusher, but Jordan Howard sits 20 yards behind him. He’s one of the most dangerous runners in the entire country, and if he’s a go on Saturday, the game’s dynamic changes completely.
Penn State’s offensive performance was abysmal last weekend against Army, but with Saquon Barkley hopefully in the lineup, Penn State can continue feeding its freshman phenom as it rejuvenates its potent rushing attack.
Hopefully this year’s Homecoming goes a little smoother than last year, but I expect another victory from the Nittany Lions.