Penn State vs. Indiana
When: Noon Saturday
Where: Memorial Stadium, Bloomington, Ind.
Series: Penn State leads 16-0
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Last meeting: Penn State won 45-22 at Beaver Stadium (Nov. 17, 2012)
Coaches: Indiana — Kevin Wilson, 3rd season, 7-21 overall; Penn State — Bill O’Brien, second season, 11-5 overall.
Television: Big Ten Network (commentators: Matt Devlin, Glen Mason, Jon Jansen)
Radio: WQWK 1450, WBUS 93.7 (Announcers: Steve Jones, Jack Ham)
The skinny: Both Penn State and Indiana are coming off bye weeks and it remains to be seen which squad used the time off more wisely. The Hoosiers have never beaten the Nittany Lions in 16 tries and will likely have to win a shootout in the conference opener to do so this time. Indiana’s offense is leading the Big Ten in total offense with just over 547 yards per game. But the Hoosier defense has been suspect, especially against good running teams. Indiana is surrendering just over 247 yards per game on the ground this season, and has given up a combined 724 in two losses to Navy and Missouri. Meanwhile, Penn State’s running game has heated up as Zach Zwinak, Bill Belton and Akeel Lynch have all been equally effective running behind a physical offensive line that is getting better with each game. Expect a large quantity of plays to be run in this game as both teams — the Hoosiers especially — utilize up-tempo offenses.
Hoosiers player to watch: At 5-foot-7, Shane Wynn is Indiana’s smallest receiver but he’s also the most slippery. Wynn’s 20 yards per catch leads the team and also shares the team lead with four touchdowns along with tight end Ted Bolser. Wynn does a lot of his damage from the slot but is a threat each time he touches the ball. He’s quite nimble in the open field and has also scored punt return and kickoff return touchdowns this season.
Nittany Lion to watch: Kevin Wilson attributed his team’s struggles against the run to poor positioning. But the Hoosiers also haven’t tackled well. Penn State’s tough-to-tackle Zach Zwinak must be salivating to get a chance to pound the football early against the Hoosiers weak run defense. Expect Zwinak’s average yards per carry (4.4) to go up after this game.
Key matchup: In order to disrupt Indiana’s quick passing attack, Penn State’s defensive line must generate a more consistent pass rush than it has in its four previous games. Look for Penn State’s defensive front four to utilize an active hands strategy. They’ll need to time jumps just right to get their hands up in passing lanes as Indiana uses a lot of three-step drops.