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Three takeaways from Penn State’s 34-27 win over Indiana

The Nittany Lions clinched the win with a 9-minute drive that included 18 plays, 16 of them runs. Journey Brown rushed for 100 yards and a touchdown.

Penn State tight end Nick Bowers (83) catches a touchdown pass as Indiana defensive back Jaylin Williams (23) defends in the first quarter.
Penn State tight end Nick Bowers (83) catches a touchdown pass as Indiana defensive back Jaylin Williams (23) defends in the first quarter.Read moreBarry Reeger / AP

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – Three takeaways from No. 9 Penn State’s 34-27 victory over No. 24 Indiana Saturday before a crowd of 106,323 at Beaver Stadium:

Most clutch drive of the season?

The Nittany Lions (9-1, 6-1 Big Ten) saw a 27-14 lead trimmed to three points after Peyton Ramsey’s 1-yard quarterback sneak with 10 minutes, 45 seconds to play. After taking over at their own 25, the Lions proceeded to milk nine minutes off the clock with an 18-play drive that was capped by Sean Clifford’s 1-yard run on fourth and goal with 1:44 remaining. The Lions converted two third downs and a pair of fourth downs during the drive. Sixteen of the 18 plays were runs, including 11 in a row after Pat Freiermuth caught a 15-yard pass from Clifford to get the ball down to the Indiana 33. The drive included backup quarterback Will Levis, who ran on back-to-back plays on third and fourth downs, picking up three yards for a first down at the 21. Journey Brown, who gained 100 yards in 21 carries, also had some big runs during the drive.

Lions helped by poor special teams play

The Nittany Lions capitalized on two special teams miscues by Indiana (7-3, 4-3), leading to 14 points. The first came in the opening quarter when the Hoosiers’ Whop Philyor muffed a bouncing punt and linebacker Jan Johnson recovered at the Indiana 27. The Lions scored in five plays on a 12-yard pass from Sean Clifford to tight end Nick Bowers. Later, on their initial possession of the third quarter, the Hoosiers had fourth and one at their own 44, called timeout and lined up in an extremely spread out punt formation. The snap went to tight end Peyton Hendershot, the up back, but he bobbled it and was buried for a loss by Garrett Taylor and Antonio Shelton. Journey Brown dashed 35 yards for a touchdown two plays later. As for Penn State’s special teams, Jake Pinegar kicked two field goals in as many attempts, and Blake Gillikin nailed two punts inside the 10.

Ten games in, Penn State still misses tackles

The Hoosiers dominated time of possession in the second half, and one huge reason was that missed tackles kept the Nittany Lions’ defense on the field. Indiana ran 20 plays and held the ball for nearly 12 ½ minutes in the third quarter, getting just a field goal out of it, but Penn State might have averaged one tackle per play over that stretch. One of the more egregious tackling example came on a short flanker screen to David Ellis, who broke two tackles near the line of scrimmage and ran for 39 yards. The Hoosiers went on to score to cut the Penn State lead to 27-24 with 10:45 left to play. Ramsey put continued stress on the Penn State secondary, and finished with 31 completions in 41 attempts for 371 yards and one touchdown.