4 storylines for Indiana’s game at Penn State

1. Running game response

Morgan Ellison, the Big Ten’s Freshman of the Week, was the star of last week’s rout of Georgia Southern. Penn State’s defense, of course, is in a much different class. It would be shocking if Ellison replicated last week’s stat line of 186 rushing yards and two touchdowns, but Indiana doesn’t necessarily need those gaudy numbers. It simply needs a run game effective enough to win first dow, sustain drives and remove the burden from quarterbacks Richard Lagow and Peyton Ramsey. Indiana’s young and inexperienced offensive line will be put to the test after its best performance to date.

2. Tight end showdown

Penn State’s Mike Gesicki and Indiana’s Ian Thomas are among the most productive Big Ten players at their position. Thomas’ 54.3 yards per game are second-most among conference tight ends, while Gesicki is 277 yards away from matching Ted Kwalick’s Penn State receiving record of 1,343 yards by a tight end. Gesicki holds the team’s longest active receptions streak at 18 games and has four or more catches in 10 of his last 16 contests.

3. Luck and takeaways

This is a series that has been almost entirely one-sided. Indiana has only one all-time win against Penn State — a 44-24 victory at Memorial Stadium in 2013 — and hasn’t played particularly well in State College. The Hoosiers will likely need a little luck and a couple takeaways to make this a ballgame. IU secured its first three takeaways of the season last week against Georgia Southern after coming close to stealing the ball multiple times in the previous game at Virginia. Penn State, meanwhile, leads the Big Ten in turnover margin, having seized six more takeaways than it has lost. Also, keep an eye on IU punt returner J-Shun Harris. After recording special teams scores in each of the past two games, can he do it again?

4. Hurtin’ Hoosiers

Indiana appears to be hobbling into State College this week, with injuries to a number of key defensive players. Starting corners Rashard Fant and A’Shon Riggins are both dinged up, as is starting defensive back Marcelino Ball, who was among a few Hoosiers to leave last week’s game due to an unspecified injury. Starting defensive tackle Nate Hoff is also questionable. IU coach Tom Allen said on his weekly radio show that he expects to have at least a few game-time decisions.

5 comments

  1. PSU’s OL is not as fearsome as OSU’s and probably not much better than UVA. Possible good fortunes for the IU DL. I have great confidence In Hagen having them hungry and well prepared with the game plan scheme. Hopefully there will be no away game shock being at State College. If IU can hold the advantage in turnovers and ST’s it should be a knockdown drag out. Hope Hale is back, should be a big day for IU WR’s. Thomas and Timian’s receiving could really help augment the rushing attack in moving the chains. For the D Covington again could establish another benchmark in improvement.

  2. H4H, I love your prediction and I would be thrilled watching the game and seeing this score at the end. The only thing better would be for the defense to hit their goal and the game finishes 28-17.

    HH I agree about PSU’s OL and Covington stepping it up even more to be a real playmaker on defense coming up with big plays at critical times. The offense needs to target Cobbs and Thomas more while still getting the ball to Timian and Hale to keep the DBs honest. ST and improved OL play would give IU a great shot at winning.

  3. v13-

    In your second paragraph introduction, you accidentally used ‘HH’ instead of ‘HC.’
    Likely a very foolish prediction, but there is something in the air. I think the Ramsey kid at QB is just far more skilled than most know.

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