Following a bye week for each team, the Hoosiers will host the Nittany Lions at home this Saturday to open conference play for both squads.
Penn State is coming off a one-sided 34-0 win over Kent State that saw the Nittany Lions rush for 287 yards in wet and rainy weather. They used the bye week to get guys like Kyle Carter and Mike Hull healthy for Big Ten play but will be without safety Ryan Keiser, who injured his hand against the Golden Flashes.
Indiana's most recent contest was a 45-28 home loss to Missouri in prime time. The Hoosiers amassed 475 total yards in the game but threw three interceptions and gave up 623 yards to Mizzou.
The Hoosiers (2-2) hope that the 17th time will be the charm as they failed to find victory over Penn State (3-1) in each of their first 16 contests. In last year's matchup, the Nittany Lions defeated Indiana by a score of 45-22 at Beaver Stadium.
Time: 12:00 p.m. ET
Place: Memorial Stadium, Bloomington, Ind.
TV: Big Ten Network
Radio: Penn State Network Affiliates
Spread: Penn State is a four-point favorite, per VegasInsider.com.
Run the Ball
Indiana wants to speed up the pace and run as many plays as possible. Penn State can counter that by controlling the clock and keeping the defense off the field. The Hoosiers allowed 280 yards on the ground to Missouri, who doesn't have the talent that the Nittany Lions possess in their backfield.
Get After the QB
Penn State's defense has has some issues in coverage this year and will be without Ryan Keiser, who had an interception against Kent State. The front four will need to put pressure on the Hoosier quarterbacks to take some of the pressure off the secondary.
Avoid the Big Play
Against Missouri, the Hoosiers had three wide receivers average over 17 yards per reception and completed passes of 77, 68 and 31 yards. The Nittany Lions have been caught off guard against the deep ball this year, but Malcolm Willis and Adrian Amos will need to keep the receivers in front of them this week to slow down an Indiana passing offense ranked 11th in the nation.
Play Some Defense
Through four games against lackluster competition, Indiana has allowed 131 points and it has yet to face offensive talent on par with Allen Robinson and Penn State's stable of running backs. Being able to put points on the board isn't enough when you possess the nation's 98th-ranked scoring defense.
Get Tre Roberson Involved
Indiana will give a couple looks from its quarterback position. Nate Sudfeld is the better passer and has seen most of the action this year. Tre Roberson is a dual threat and can cause damage with his legs. Indiana should look to mix it up and get Roberson scrambling around to keep the PSU defense on its toes.
Utilize the Trick Play
Penn State hasn't seen many unconventional plays thus far in 2013. A fake kick or some variety of reverse might catch the Nittany Lions off guard and lead to a big play for the Hoosiers.
DE Deion Barnes
Barnes may have had his coming-out party against Kent State when he recorded his first sack of the year. Indiana will give him ample opportunities to add to that total and the Hoosiers offensive line shouldn't be enough to contain him all day.
RBs Zach Zwinak, Bill Belton and Akeel Lynch
At least one of these guys should have a 100-yard performance on Saturday. In three of Indiana's games, they have given up at least 97 rushing yards in a game to five different players. Zwinak will likely add to his national-best eight touchdowns.
CBs Jordan Lucas and Trevor Williams
The two Nittany Lions who have faced the most scrutiny (some earned, some unearned) should have their hands full on Saturday. Indiana will spread out the defense and throw the ball around all day. Lucas and Williams will have an opportunity to quiet some of the criticism.
QB Christian Hackenberg
With four games under his belt and a bye week to reflect, it should be interesting to see what changes/improvements the young quarterback has made. With the blend of talent and coaching in this equation, Hackenberg may mature even quicker than expectations would suggest.
See full depth chart HERE.
RB Tevin Coleman
The sophomore from Illinois has added a new dimension to the Hoosier offense, rushing for 96 yards per game and six touchdowns on the season. He's also a threat to catch the ball out of the backfield.
WRs Shane Wynn and Cody Latimer
After combining for 118 catches and 12 touchdowns in 2012, the junior duo is back at it with 33 receptions and and six touchdowns through the first four games of 2013.
CB Tim Bennett
While he doesn't yet have an interception, Bennett is third on team with 28 tackles and has defended a whopping 10 passes. It's just a matter of time until he forces a turnover.
See full depth chart HERE.
Kevin Wilson on Allen Robinson: "I don’t know if I would call him a big guy. ... He’s got great leaps and great speed and very dynamic."— ZachOsterman (@ZachOsterman) September 30, 2013
Bill O'Brien says he's impressed by Indiana as a balanced offense and by its depth at the skill positions.— Dustin Dopirak (@DustinDopirak) October 1, 2013
Wilson said Hackenberg not "reading at a third-grade level," that the Penn State QB acts mature for his age.— David Woods (@DavidWoods007) September 30, 2013
Zach Zwinak says O'Brien's offense is fun "because you never know what’s going to happen. He’s always got something crazy going on." #PSU— York Daily Record (@YDRPennState) October 1, 2013
Wynn says Penn State does a lot of corner blitz and a lot of "backside things that the quarterback wouldn't recognize."— Dustin Dopirak (@DustinDopirak) September 30, 2013
O'Brien on a possible shootout with the Hoosiers: "I don't think we can come out of this game with a bunch of field goals."— Derek Levarse (@TLdlevarse) October 1, 2013
O'Brien on the Indiana offense: "They have what I call really good space players, guys that can make plays with the ball in space."— Josh Moyer (@ESPNJoshMoyer) October 1, 2013
Wilson says he's impressed by "balance" in Penn State WR corps, ability to bring a lot of different types of players into offense. #iufb— ZachOsterman (@ZachOsterman) September 30, 2013
What's coach O'Brien watching in his free time? "I love watching the @Saints offense."— Penn State Football (@PennStateFball) October 1, 2013
Wilson said it's true that IU has never beat Penn State in history but "this team has never beat this team'' and that will be his message.— Terry Hutchens (@FoxSportsHutch) September 30, 2013
O'Brien: "Bye weeks are very important. I think we had a very good bye week but the proof’s in the pudding on Saturday against Indiana."— Onward State (@OnwardState) October 1, 2013
Penn State will bring the Big Ten's second-ranked scoring defense (14.5 ppg.) to Bloomington to face Indiana's second-ranked scoring offense (44.5 ppg.)
Something has to give.
In last year's contest, Allen Robinson caught 10 passes for 197 yards and three touchdowns. Zach Zwinak rushed for 135 yards and a touchdown. In all, the Nittany Lions gained 546 yards en route to a 45-22 win over the Hoosiers.
Statistically speaking, the Indiana defense has improved slightly from last season. However, it hasn't faced an offense as dynamic as Penn State's.
The young corners from Penn State will have their hands full with the veteran Hoosier wideouts, but a stout pass rush will give them the support that they need.
On the other side of the ball, look for Bill O'Brien to control the clock with a heavy dose of Zwinak before letting Hackenberg air it out.
Penn State has too much talent on both sides of the ball and it makes it 17 in a row against Indiana. For entertainment purposes only, take Penn State and give the points.
Prediction: Penn State 41 - Indiana 30