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Staff Predictions: No. 9 Penn State vs. Indiana

No. 9 Penn State football (8-1, 5-1 Big Ten) will try to right the ship against Indiana (7-2, 4-2 Big Ten) 12 p.m. Saturday at Beaver Stadium.

The Hoosiers are currently unranked in the College Football Playoff top 25 rankings, but sit at No. 24 in the AP Top 25 poll. Tom Allen’s squad is coming off a 34-3 victory over Northwestern, while Penn State just suffered its first loss of the season to Minnesota. Our staff expects the Nittany Lions to respond to the emotional loss with a big win over Indiana.

Andy Mollenauer (5-1): Penn State 27, Indiana 13

After a heartbreaking loss on the road, Penn State will undoubtedly come into this matchup with a chip on its shoulder. Indiana is no joke, however, with a respectable 7-2 record and one of the best offenses in the Big Ten. I think the difference maker in this game will be the home environment. What better confidence boost after a tough loss than to be back in front of the #107kStrong? The Nittany Lions will prevail in a two-touchdown victory to improve to 9-1.

Samuel Brungo (4-1): Penn State 31, Indiana 23

Last week I said State by 28. I predicted that Minnesota was just like Iowa or Michigan, when in reality the Gophers came out and smacked Penn State in the mouth. I was wrong. There, I said it. So was (almost) everyone else. Minnesota made me sad, but good for them. All the Nittany Lions can do at this point is win out and smack ‘em back in the Big Ten Championship.

That being said, James Franklin’s Penn State teams have a history of coming off their first heartbreaking loss of the season, playing flat, and losing to a slightly above-average team like Michigan State. That week is now. Indiana comes in at 7-2 and is ranked No. 24 in this weeks AP Top 25.

Can I say I’m completely confident the Nittany Lions will come out of this week with a win? Yes. Would I be surprised if they came out and looked like they had no interest in playing and lost to Indiana? No. But I’m excited to watch a great game. This one might be close. Expect a one possession game, potentially overtime. I could see this game looking a lot like last year’s season-opener against Appalachian State. Time to get back on track. State by 8.

Matt Noah (4-1): Penn State 42, Indiana 10

Yes, Indiana is now a ranked team. Yes, Penn State just suffered its first lost of the season. However, this is a wake up call for the Nittany Lions and they will respond in a home game that will have major bowl implications.

While there is a possibility that Penn State will overlook Saturday for the Ohio State game, I expect this team to stay focused on the task at hand and understand that Indiana is a solid team. The key for the Nittany Lions will be for Sean Clifford to stay confident and make good throws under pressure.

For the Hoosiers, Peyton Ramsey and Whop Philyor will play a key role on offense, but I expect Brent Pry’s unit to slow them down. Penn State remains to be my favorite in this one, and a win on Saturday will say a lot about the resiliency of this team.

Jared Raggi (3-1): Penn State 38, Indiana 24

The Nittany Lions will bounce back this week against a very solid Indiana team. It won’t be as easy as many hope it will be, but they will get the job done. This year still feels different than past years, and the season certainly isn’t over. This is why I believe the Nittany Lions won’t slip up, as the College Football Playoff is still a very real possibility for this team.

Scoring shouldn’t be very difficult. Although Indiana is only allowing a solid 20 points per game, in contests against Michigan State and Maryland the Hoosiers surrendered a whopping 68 points in total. For context, the Nittany Lions gave up a combined seven points in the same two contests.

Sean Clifford will have his best performance as a Nittany Lion Saturday, and silence any doubts that may have arisen due to his performance this past weekend. Indiana’s offense will produce points, but I believe the secondary will step up after being embarrassed against Minnesota, and the Wild Dogs will return to wreak havoc in the backfield.

Although the game will never become a blowout, I believe the Nittany Lions will cruise to their ninth win of the season. They will stay focused, and not look ahead (like the rest of us are) to next weekend.

Matt DiSanto (8-1): Penn State 37, Indiana 24

Penn State is 22-1 all-time against Indiana, and I can’t think of a better opponent for the reeling Nittany Lions to take on than the Hoosiers. Sure, they’re ranked for the first time since the 90s. So what? They’ve never won at Beaver Stadium, and Penn State is certain to make sure it stays that way.

I expect Sean Clifford to look much-improved compared to last week against Minnesota when he threw three costly interceptions. As long as the Nittany Lions’ pass rush can generate pressure and keep Indiana’s offense in check, we should hear plenty of rings from the Victory Bell come Saturday afternoon.

Jarod Kutz (2-1): Penn State 44, Indiana 14

Penn State’s defense will come to play on Saturday against Indiana after giving up 460 yards to Minnesota last week.  The defensive-line will have four sacks and the defense as a whole will give up less than 80 yards on the ground. 

After throwing three interceptions last week, Sean Clifford will bounce back with a great game. Instead of three picks, he will throw for three touchdowns. Hopefully, Noah Cain will be healthy enough to see some action, as he will contribute immensely to the ground game. Maybe, just maybe, Dan Chisena will find the endzone on Saturday.

Penn State needs to play a well-rounded game on Saturday to gain some much-needed confidence heading into The Horseshoe next weekend.

Will Pegler (8-1): Penn State 41, Indiana 20

James Franklin’s squad has been in this situation before — a game against a solid Big Ten opponent after an emotional loss the week before — and it hasn’t ended well. Despite what fans have seen from the Nittany Lions over the past two seasons, I expect them to handle the Hoosiers fairly easily Saturday.

Sean Clifford is going to enter this game pissed off. While entering a game overly-emotional isn’t always a recipe for success, I think the redshirt sophomore will channel his emotions well against the Hoosiers. I see at least three touchdown passes from the young quarterback, and I expect him to find Justin Shorter on at least one of them. The redshirt freshman needs a bounce back performance in the worst way after a disappointing day against the Gophers, and I think he’ll come through with one.

Outside of the passing game, we’ll likely see big days from both Journey Brown and Noah Cain. The Indiana defense is allowing 133.9 yards per game on the ground, and the Nittany Lions should be able to smash this number on Saturday morning. I also predict that both of these #LawnBoyz will both find the end zone at least once.

Indiana’s passing offense certainly can’t be ignored, as it’s currently averaging a Big Ten-best 308 yards per game. Despite this impressive stat, Penn State’s defense knows quarterback Peyton Ramsey well, and I don’t expect Brent Pry to struggle to find a way to stop him. While I see the Hoosiers putting up some points early, they won’t be able to keep pace with the Nittany Lions.

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