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Penn State Football: Previewing The Opponent: Indiana

by on November 11, 2016 3:00 PM

Penn State heads to Bloomington this weekend to face Indiana in what could be the last great test of the Nittany Lions' regular season.

The Hoosiers are 3-3 in Big Ten play for the first time since 2006 and have won their last two games by scoring 30+ points on both occasions. Indiana most recently won a turnover-filled, sloppy game against Rutgers, 33-27, a week after knocking off Maryland 42-36 in another offensive showing. Beyond that it's an overtime win against Michigan State on the resume.

Worth noting though, Indiana nearly upset Nebraska before falling 27-22 and managed 17 points in a road loss to Ohio State in 38-17 Buckeye win.

The Offense: 

A two headed attack at quarterback, it's Richard Lagow handling most of the passing duties to the tune of 2,574 yard through the air with 15 touchdowns but 13 interceptions already this season. Behind him it's the dual-threat of Zander Diamont who runs nearly as much as he throws. 

At running back Devine Redding has 793 yards and three scores to show for his efforts in a fairly pass-happy attack by Indiana coach Kevin Wilson. The Hoosiers have generally been an aerial attack in recent years and Nick Westbrook has taken advantage of that out wide with 41 receptions for 708 yards but only four scores. His 17.3 yards per reception average is worth remembering though.

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Overall Indiana is ranked second in the Big Ten in passing and third in total offense. Lagow's passing numbers are 19th best in the nation in total yards. 

The Defense: 

For as good as Indiana's offense can be when it isn't turning the ball over it's the Hoosier defense that has been a thorn in the team's side recently. Even so, this unit is led by linebacker Tegray Scales, whose 85 tacks and 11 tackles for loss lead the team. His total tackles are first in the Big Ten and second in the NCAA. Marcus Oliver also has put together a solid season so far with 67 tackles and a team-high four forced fumbles. In the secondary, Marcelino Ball has broken up seven passes and has two interceptions to his name so far in 2016.

Indiana is a good third down defense, though, with teams converting just over 31 percent of their attempts, good for 14th in the nation. The Hoosiers also are tied for the national lead in blocked punts with three and second in the Big Ten with two defensive touchdowns this year.

Even so, the Hoosiers are still susceptible to the big play, and when the turnovers are coming on the offensive side of the ball, as Penn State knows, there is only so much you can do with a shortened field.

The Player To Watch:

This is probably the best passing attack down the field that Penn State has faced all season and that makes Lagow the key to the game. Much like the Purdue game, if Penn State can force a few turnovers and get the offense out of sync this game doesn't have to be close. So it comes back to Lagow, who has the tools to challenge Penn State's veteran secondary, but is also not short on his own mistakes to manage. As Lagow's day goes, so does Indiana's.

The Prediction:

This game will probably be close for the first half, but adjustments and a high-powered offense will be too much for Indiana to hang with forever. If Penn State wins the turnover battle and can force a few early mistakes by the Hoosiers it may not need to take until halftime to get in the first few punches. The Nittany Lions will have to avoid special team's mistakes on punting, but in all three phases of the game Penn State is better than Indiana. The Hoosiers have the tools to win, but they haven't shown they're capable of putting it all together, especially as of late against teams not nearly as good as the Nittany Lions.

41-21 Penn State



Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for StateCollege.com. He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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