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Open Thread: Big Ten Football Game of the Week

The Indiana Hoosiers travel to Happy Valley as they try to add a marquee road win against a ranked foe to their breakout season

NCAA Football: Northwestern at Indiana Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Penn State is returning home after their close loss last week to Big Ten West favorite Minnesota. The Nittany Lions have been discussed in a few game threads before including last week’s. It’s worth mentioning still that this team is still very strong offensively but showed some holes with Sean Clifford’s poor decision making or inaccuracy on a handful of costly plays.

The Penn State secondary struggled to keep up with Minnesota’s long and strong receivers as there were a few physical catches made by that group that were huge plays. As they try to regroup back in the friendly confines of Happy Valley, the Lions will need to combat another strong offensive unit in the Indiana Hoosiers.

Indiana lost their talented starting quarterback, Michael Penix Jr., but haven’t missed much of a beat as Peyton Ramsey has filled in. Ramsey has a great deal of experience as a Junior that started several games for Indiana in both his freshman and sophomore seasons. He was in a bit of a quarterback battle with Penix for the starting job this season. Penix eventually won out after a few games but now Ramsey has been called back into action. Indiana has a great deal of talent and production at their skill positions.

Indiana’s starting running back, Stevie Scott, has been on a tear this season with 737 yards rushing and 207 yards receiving. He is a very physical runner but also has great cutting ability which allows him to make a man miss and get into the second level of the defense. Also, a credit should be giving to Indiana’s offensive line who have been very solid in run blocking.

The talent pool continue’s with Indiana’s deep receiving core. Junior slot receiver Whop Philyor is having a career season with 59 receptions for 813 yards and 3 TDs. Philyor is very quick and shifty with great hands. Indiana likes to send him across the middle of the field and get him out in space to make plays. They also work him off of screens quite a bit.

Indiana’s defense will be key in this game. The secondary has made steady improvements throughout the season but the Defensive line has to be able to break through and put pressure on Sean Clifford. That will be key for Indiana to help out their secondary and hopefully keep guys like Penn State’s KJ Hamler from getting open and in space. Indiana’s star linebackers Micah McFadden and Reakwon Jones will loom large in plugging holes on Penn State’s run plays as well has covering the initial read of the Lions RPO offense.

The battle of the trenches, specifically for Indiana’s offensive line and Penn State’s defense line will be key to this game. It feels like Penn State will get their points on Indiana’s defense. The game will be decided on Indiana’s pass protection against a talented and physical Penn State defensive line. The Hoosiers’ talented receiving pool will look to exploit the holes in Penn State’s secondary, much like Minnesota did last week.

  • Prediction: Penn State 31 Indiana 28