Penn State might have the best player in the country but that doesn't mean everyone else is easy to deal with. The Nittany Lions will get a first-hand look at this fact as Penn State faces Indiana and receiver Simmie Cobbs.
"I think Simmie Cobbs is the difference-maker for them that they missed last year," Penn State coach James Franklin said on Tuesday.
"You're talking about a guy who is 6-4, 220 pounds, averaging 12.7 yards per catch I think, two touchdowns. The plays they made against Ohio State were just fantastic, the two of them. The back-shoulder fades, the over-the-shoulder fade balls, making the catch on the sideline, contested catches, guys hanging all over him and coming down with circus catch after circus catch."
That will be the real task for Penn State's secondary and corners on Saturday. Cobbs is exceptionally talented in the air, an Allen Robinson of sorts playing for the Hoosiers. His 11 receptions against Ohio State were only a portion of the targets he saw as Indiana leaned on him to move the ball down the field in the first half.
For Penn State, the good news comes in the form of what the Nittany Lions are going up against each and every day. Big receivers on their own roster.
"The fortunate thing for us is our defensive backs are used to going against wide receivers that size in practice," Franklin added. "When you go against Irvin Charles and Juwan Johnson every single day (Both 6-foot-4)."
"I think those guys, having to defend those guys in practice all the time, I think helps. Does that mean that we are going to be completely prepared and ready for Simmie Cobbs? We'll find out Saturday. But I do think the accumulated reps that our guys have gotten going against big receivers in practice through camp and through the season so far, I think helps."
Of course only having one option tends to be a difficult formula to win with. That's where the rest of Indiana's receiving corps will come in handy if the Hoosiers are going to pull off the shocker. Luke Timian's 17 catches are just one shy of Cobb and tight end Ian Thomas' 71-yard touchdown is the longest of the year for Indiana.
Will it be enough to beat the Nittany Lions? Maybe not, but much like Saturday in Iowa City, Penn State will have to earn it, and Cobbs will make sure it isn't easy.