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Staff Predictions: No. 8 Penn State vs. Indiana

We’re almost there, folks.

No. 8 Penn State is set to kick off its season Saturday afternoon with a trip to Bloomington to take on Indiana. With a group of returning veterans and talented young players, the Nittany Lions enter the 2020 season with high expectations.

Last season, Penn State snuck by the Hoosiers with a 34-27 win at Beaver Stadium. The majority of our staff is confident that the Nittany Lions can edge out Indiana again and start their season off with a bang.

Otis Lyons: Penn State 35, Indiana 7

I have heard a lot of cautious optimism about James Franklin’s squad and its chances in Bloomington. Penn State has a history of eking out wins against the Hoosiers, although maybe it is time to debunk those theories. It is 2020, after all!

Yes, the team will be missing KJ Hamler, Micah Parsons, and Journey Brown. Those are huge losses, but I am confident that after an unusual offseason, the Nittany Lions will be ready to go. Enough of these one-score wins in Western Indiana. Let’s get crazy, folks.

Matt Rudisill: Penn State 35, Indiana 17

Losing Micah Parsons to an opt-out and Journey Brown to an undisclosed medical condition, both sides of the ball for Penn State will come out playing with something to prove this weekend.

Although Indiana did average over 30 points per game last year, the Parsons-less defense, like I said, will prove that they can fill that void. Captains Jesse Luketa, Lamont Wade, and Shaka Toney will lead this defense to success and come down with multiple sacks.

The offensive unit, led by Sean Clifford and Pat Freiermuth, will establish the run game early with sophomore Noah Cain to unleash the passing attack later on in the game. Freiermuth, a big red zone target for the Nittany Lions, will score at least one of Penn State’s five touchdowns on the day.

Call me an optimist if you want, but I truly believe the losses Penn State suffered will push it to success this week.

Rory Pelella: Penn State 31, Indiana 10

We’re coming back with a bang, baby. There’s no doubt about it. I fully expect James Franklin’s squad to pick up right where it left off in the Cotton Bowl Classic and take care of business against the Hoosiers. With a strong group of running backs (even without Journey Brown), Clifford at the helm, and his favorite target Pat Freiermuth returning for another season, Kirk Ciarocca’s offense should be good for several touchdowns on Saturday.

Frankie Marzano: Indiana 38, Penn State 35

Penn State is 22-1 all-time against the Hoosiers, and 9-1 in Bloomington. Going back to 2014, Penn State has won by only one score in three out of the last six games. I expect that trend to continue here, to an even further extent. I think you’re going to see the offense come out with good chemistry under new offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca. The defense is a different story. I don’t expect the Micah Parsons loss to be as big as people think, but Indiana’s offense is legit.

The Hoosiers are already returning most of their starters from last year, and the Nittany Lions barely escaped with a 34-27 victory in Beaver Stadium. This game isn’t going to be a blowout by any means, and it’s certainly no game to look past. This will be a great test for the Nittany Lions before they face a tough schedule throughout the rest of the season. The Hoosiers will be looking to make a big statement against Penn State this weekend. This is their Super Bowl. That said, I think Indiana will barely come out on top (I hope this ends up on Freezing Cold Takes). Indiana moneyline!

Samuel Brungo: Penn State 37, Indiana 33

The Hoosiers always show up against the Nittany Lions and cause a bit of a headache for Penn State. This year won’t be any different, as Indiana will come out fighting and feed off a few careless mistakes by Penn State’s offense.

The Nittany Lions will come out strong and score on the first drive. They’ll play well throughout the first half before hitting a wall coming out of the break. They’ll let up in the third quarter and Indiana will find themselves back in the game. The LawnBoyz will show up with a walk-off touchdown on the last drive for their brother Journey Brown. State by four.

Connor Donohue: Penn State 31, Indiana 17

The trend in college football this year has been bad defense. I don’t think the Big Ten, despite a hefty number of quality defenses, will be any different. I’m betting on Indiana’s defense to struggle a lot more than Penn State’s in this game just on sheer talent alone. Even though Micah Parsons is gone, the Nittany Lions still have one of the best linebacking corps in the conference. I think the secondary will take big strides this season starting in Week One. 

The Bloomington factor exists, but I don’t think it will play a role in this game. Most of those close games occurred later in the season and Indiana is as “unprepared” as Penn State will be. Put Clifford down for two touchdowns and expect the LawnBoyz to be cooking despite missing Journey Brown. Don’t sleep on Indiana quarterback Michael Penix Jr., as he has the potential to the next breakout star in the Big Ten.

In the end, the game may be close for large portions, but Penn State will pull away with ease and win 31-17.

Owen Abbey: Penn State 20, Indiana 13

Football is finally back, folks! It’s a day that I honestly did not expect to see, and boy am I happy that I am wrong. However, this is not an easy game for the Nittany Lions, as Indiana is a solid team to open against.

I think we will see a lot of rust being shaken off by both teams, leading to a closer game than it might have otherwise been. I expect Noah Cain to shine with a higher workload, and the rest of the LawnBoyz will be the reason Penn State stays ahead in this game.

We will finally have a chance to see new groups at wide receiver and in the secondary, which means we will get answers as to who is going to step up from the unknown. Those groups are still very concerning to me, but I think they’ll make some key plays that keep Indiana at bay and give the Nittany Lions their first victory of the season.

Connor Krause: Penn State 31, Indiana 24

In the past, games in Bloomington have had the typical feel of a trap game. But for different reasons, Penn State will struggle early Saturday.

Bringing the energy should not be an issue for the Nittany Lions in their first game of the season, but expect to see some rust out of the gate. The new offense has not seen any in-game reps, which could pose Sean Clifford and Co. with challenges in the early going.

The defense may take some time to adjust to Indiana’s game plan with Michael Penix Jr. at the helm of one of the Big Ten’s most underrated offensive attacks. Expect Penix to target the young secondary in the early going, leading to a slim halftime advantage in favor of the Hoosiers.

As Nittany Lions fans have become accustomed to in the James Franklin era, expect a convincing second-half effort from the squad. After a couple of explosive drives to take the lead, Kirk Ciarocca will ride the Noah Cain train until the final whistle. The final score will be close, but the second half execution from Penn State should give fans optimism for next week’s date with the Buckeyes.

Ryan Parsons: Penn State 38, Indiana 24

Honestly, no one really knows what to expect here. The offseason’s been weird, as some players have left, others have stepped up, there’s been limited practice time, no spring ball, among other things. I think if Indiana gets hot this season, they can put together a solid run behind quarterback Michael Penix Jr. Although I haven’t necessarily been impressed with what I’ve seen of him, there isn’t much film at the college level.

Penn State will likely be the better prepared, ready-to-play team, and that’s what will edge them out over the Hoosiers. Clifford has been here before and will be able to put together drives while getting supported by a scrappy defense.

Gabe Angieri: Penn State 34, Indiana 24

Penn State will open its season up on the road this Saturday for only the 30th time in program history. Despite the recent close games in Bloomington, I expect the Nittany Lions to win this one without too much of a sweat.

I expect new offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarocca to take the offense to the next level, especially with Sean Clifford, who’s entering his second season as the starting quarterback. Clifford has two of his top targets from last season, Pat Freiermuth and Jahan Dotson, back for another year with more experience. Even without Journey Brown, Ja’Juan Seider’s running back room is still looking strong headed by Noah Cain and Devyn Ford. Expect the offense to come out strong against Indiana’s defense.

Penn State’s defense will rely on a lot of young talent to fill the holes left by offseason departures. Against a talented Indiana offense led by quarterback Michael Penix Jr. and wideout Whop Philyor, expect the defense to have its fair share of struggles throughout the first half while it continues to gel together.

However, the defense will buckle down in the second half and hold off the Hoosiers, allowing Penn State to leave Bloomington 1-0.

Will Pegler: Penn State 35, Indiana 10

There’s been a lot of discussion about Penn State’s recent struggles in Bloomington. While I think that’s an interesting storyline, it’s only going to be bulletin board material for James Franklin’s squad entering this weekend. I expect this new and improved Kirk Ciarrocca offense to come out firing on all cylinders against a somewhat suspect Hoosier defense.

As for slowing Indiana down, there’s no doubt Tom Allen’s offense is talented. Michael Penix Jr. and Whop Philyor pose a serious threat in the passing game, but, call me crazy, I have faith that Penn State’s secondary will surprise some people. Jaquan Brisker and Lamont Wade are both talented players, and I think a mix of young and experienced cornerbacks will be the right formula for Penn State’s defense. That’s all before we even mention Penix will be pressured constantly by the Nittany Lions’ always-solid defensive line.

The offense will come out hot, and the defense will do its job. Penn State comes home with a 1-0 record and a Halloween date with Ohio State on the horizon.

Matt DiSanto: Penn State 38, Indiana 35

Look, I couldn’t care less how Penn State wins (or loses) this game. I’m just happy to have something to do on a Saturday afternoon.

If you actually want to hear me talk some football, Penn State is the better team on paper. The Nittany Lions will get off to a hot start against Indiana but wind up in a tie ballgame down the stretch thanks to some shoddy defense. Luckily, a perfect last-minute Jordan Stout field goal will save the day and send Penn State home with a win.

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