IU will head to Happy Valley to face Penn State on Saturday. The Hoosiers, 4-6 (2-4), are in desperate need of a win after a beating suffered at the hands of Wisconsin last weekend. Penn State, 6-4 (4-2), lost last week at No. 16 Nebraska 32-23.
IU needs to win at Penn State and at Purdue in order to get a bowl bid.
Here's what fans should be watching for:
- Bounce back. Can the Hoosiers bounce back from last weeks 62-14 loss? IU was ineffective at every phase of the game. They couldn't run the ball, or stop the run (an understatement), and they failed to find a rhythm in the passing game. They looked completely unprepared last week, hopefully coach Kevin Wilson will have this team in a more competitive mood this week.
- Balanced attack. In recent weeks, IU has faced a number of opponents that are one-dimensional on offense. They all had solid rushing attacks and IU struggled against them culminating in last weeks failure. Penn State has balance on offense. They are fourth in the Big Ten in offense, right behind IU. The Nittany Lions will probably go run heavy, seeing as IU just gave up all the yards rushing in a single game and then use this to set up the play action. IU will have it's hands full on defense.
- 564 yards. IU gave up 564 yards rushing in a single game. The defense looked completely beat by the third quarter. But it wasn't all the defenses fault, IU had the ball for just 20 minutes of the game. The defense barely had a chance to catch it's breath before they had to go on the field to give up another long touchdown drive. IU has to possess the ball more against Penn State, which will be difficult as IU is dead last in time of possession in the Big Ten.
- Bend don't break. Penn State will give up a lot of yards but not very many points. So far, they give up an average of 344 yards per game, but have held opponents to just under 19 points. They are they 20th best scoring defense in the country and have the best red zone defense in the Big Ten. If IU can move the ball, they have to finish drives with touchdowns.
- Turnovers. Penn State is second in the Big Ten in turnover margin at +8 and have forced 19 turnovers. IU is tied for sixth and is dead even in turnovers, the Hoosiers have only forced 10 turnovers all season. Expect Penn State to be aggressive on defense to get the ball back often. Winning the turnover battle would be huge for IU and a short field for the Hoosiers would be a difference maker.
- Quarterback? Both Cam Coffman and Nate Sudfeld, well, looked like poop. Sudfeld fumbled a snap and turned the ball over and Coffman missed wide open receivers while throwing two interceptions. Coffman looked good on a quick touchdown drive near the end of the first half, but that would be the only time. Generally when one of them has been bad, the other has been good but as the season has worn on, they both have started to regress. Hopefully, one of them will decide to show up on Sunday.
This is the definition of a must win game for IU. Penn State has nothing to play for and the Hoosiers would love to go to a bowl game in coach Wilson's second year.
Unfortunately, IU has never beaten Penn State. We don't expect the Hoosiers to buck that trend. IU looses 31-24.
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