STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — The Penn State football team will look to rebound from its first loss of the season when it hosts Indiana at noon Saturday in a Big Ten matchup.
Here are our Penn State writers’ predictions.
The combination of Penn State possibly still reeling from last week’s loss at Minnesota and Indiana coming in loose and confident and with its first top-25 ranking in 25 years will make this more of a competitive game than the oddsmakers think.
The Nittany Lions must get their rhythm and their confidence back. QB Sean Clifford needs to shake off last week’s three interceptions and play as mistake-free as possible, and the secondary has to get its swagger back after a brutal outing a week ago.
The guess is that Penn State will start fast on offense, but it can’t afford the lulls that have marked some of their games this season. They also have to convert their red-zone opportunities and, most importantly, win the turnover battle.
After some rough patches early, the defense will establish itself as the game goes on and secure a Nittany Lions’ victory.
Prediction: Penn State 31, Indiana 21
Expect this Penn State team, after getting punched in the mouth in the first quarter at Minnesota last week, to come out and throw some early haymakers Saturday against Indiana — something the Nittany Lions have done multiple times this season.
This Lions defense will face a much different offense than the one that beat Penn State last weekend, and will be out to re-establish itself as one of the best defenses in the country. This is also a big game for quarterback Sean Clifford. He turned the ball over three times in his first loss as a starter, and it’s on him to help Penn State find its mojo in the red zone once again.
But even though I’m expecting the Nittany Lions to burst out to an early lead, there’s a reason Indiana is 7-2. Quarterback Peyton Ramsey deserves a lot of credit for sticking around after being beaten out by Michael Penix Jr., and he’s done a solid job running the offense in Penix’s absence. The Hoosiers like to throw the ball a ton and will give Penn State a bunch of different looks it hasn’t seen all year.
Indiana will make things interesting in the second half, but Penn State will jump out to a comfortable lead in the first half.