Neutral site? Not exactly. Home game? Not that, either.
Tomorrow's Big Ten matchup between Penn State (6-4, 3-3 Big Ten) and Indiana (4-6, 0-6) at Fed-Ex Field technically is a "home" game for the Hoosiers, who struck a deal with Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder to switch the venue from Memorial Stadium in Bloomington, Ind., to Landover, Md., for monetary reasons (Indiana is being paid $3 million to do so) and to provide more exposure for the IU football program in the talent-rich District of Columbia/Maryland/Virginia region.
But if Indiana coach Bill Lynch and his players are expecting to see a lot of red in the stands of the 91,704-seat NFL facility, they're apt to be sorely disappointed. Although FedEx Field might be located in the heart of Atlantic Coast Conference country, Penn State has long had the strongest presence in the area among schools not located along or in close proximity to Tobacco Road.
For this game, at least, just think of FedEx Field as Beaver Stadium South. Or is that Beaver Stadium East?
Penn State has a whopping 15 players from the Washington/Maryland/Virginia pool, including such key figures as school career rushing leader Evan Royster, linebacker Bani Gbadyu, tackle Chima Okoli, wide receiver Devon Smith, safety Malcolm Willis and defensive end Sean Stanley.
Indiana, on the other hand, lists just two players from the area on its roster.
And it's not just Penn State's current D.C./Maryland/Virginia players who have established that pipeline that always seems to be pumping high-caliber recruits to Happy Valley. Such recent former Nittany Lions standouts as Derrick Williams, Deon Butler, Aaron Maybin, Navorro Bowman, Tony Hunt, A.J. Wallace and Jeremy Kapinos were imported from there.
"I think we've done a pretty good job recruiting out of that area the past couple of years," Royster, who hails from Fairfax, Va., said of his return to familiar territory. "There are a lot of Penn State fans back home. There are more of them than most people would think. It'll be exciting playing in front of so many of my family members and friends."
Okoli, whose hometown is Virginia Beach, Va., concurred, saying, "I was talking to Devon Smith and some of the other guys and we're all going to need a lot of tickets."
The man most responsible for Penn State's high visibility in the area is defensive line coach Larry Johnson Sr., a tremendous recruiter whose ties to the area have proved to be a major plus.
Johnson, who has been a member of coach Joe Paterno's staff since 1996, formerly served as head coach at T.C. Williams High (forever immortalized in the 2000 movie, "Remember the Titans") in Alexandria, Va., and McDonough High in Pomfret, Md. He is a six-time Coach of the Year in Washington Metropolitan high school football and guided McDonough to three Maryland state championships while compiling a 139-36 record.
"You've got to give credit to the high school coaches over there," Johnson said. "They do a great job of developing players in Maryland, in Virginia. Every year, there are eight, nine, 10 big-time players in those states that everybody's chasing."
So to what does Johnson attribute his success in snagging his share and more of those blue-chip prospects?
"It's not just me," he said. "It's Penn State and coach Paterno. The advantage I have is that I coached in Virginia and Maryland for so many years and developed some great relationships with a lot of the high school coaches. When I got the job here, I tried to get in contact with everyone I knew down there. And whenever I'd be in the area, I shook a lot of hands and told the coaches, 'If you have a player we'd be interested in, give me a call.'
"But it's not just having a good relationship with somebody. High school coaches want to send their kids to a place where they can trust the guy that recruited them and trust the head coach. Trust is something that needs to be developed over time. And kids want to go where they can get a great education and play a high caliber of football. Penn State gives them all that, and more."
More than a few ACC schools probably wish Penn State didn't conduct such frequent and successful recruiting raids. Excluding relatively recent ACC additions Boston College, Miami and Florida State, the Nits are 40-6-1 vs. ACC teams, including a 24-0-1 mark against Maryland and 12-2 against North Carolina State.
3 things to look for
-- Indiana quarterback Ben Chappell has sufficiently recovered from the hip injury that knocked him out of much of last week's 83-20 embarrassment at the hands of Wisconsin, meaning the Hoosiers will provide a much sterner test. "I've never seen a game change that much with a guy being hurt," Indiana coach Bill Lynch said of the drop-off to true freshman Edward Wright-Baker when Chappell, a fifth-year senior, went out.
-- Both teams have been socked with more injuries than can be expected at this point in a season. Joe Paterno said 13 of his players won't be available tomorrow, including five to six who were, or would have been, starters. The Hoosiers are also banged-up, particularly at tailback where three freshmen - Antonio Banks, Matt Perez and Xavier Whitaker - all have been lost with torn anterior cruciate ligaments.
-- Evan Royster, bruised left knee and all, should find running room against an Indiana defense that was gouged for 338 rushing yards last week by Wisconsin, despite the absence of the Badgers' injured star tailback, John Clay.
Penn State 38, Indiana
Who: Penn State vs. Indiana
When: Tomorrow, 12:01 p.m.
Where: FedEx Field, Landover, Md.
TV: Big Ten Network
Radio: WNTP (990-AM), WNPV (1440-AM)
Records: Penn State (6-4, 3-3 Big Ten); Indiana (4-6, 0-6)
History: The Nittany Lions have won all 13 games in the series, including last year's 31-20 victory in Beaver Stadium, but the Hoosiers have lost by seven or fewer points five times.
Coaches: Joe Paterno (45th year, 400-133-3); Bill Lynch (4th year at school, 18-29; 18th year overall, 99-99-3)
About Penn State: In the first six games this season, the Nits averaged 18.2 points per game and scored six touchdowns in 20 possessions into the red zone. In the last four games, they've averaged 30.7 points and have scored 12 TDs in 15 red-zone tries. But Penn State's biggest advantage is on the other side of the ball as it gives up only 21.9 points a game to 33.6 for IU. . . The Nits' leading career rusher, Evan Royster, is wearing a protective sleeve on his bruised knee as a precautionary measure, but he insists he'll be healthy and ready to run by game time . . . Sacks might be hard to come by, as the Hoosiers, who throw the ball a lot, incorporate a lot of three-step drops in the passing game. "We've got to get a solid pass-rush going," defensive end Pete Massaro said.
About Indiana: Redshirt freshman defensive end Javon Cornley is the younger brother of Jamelle Cornley, who led the Penn State basketball team to the 2009 NIT championship and was the tournament MVP . .. The Hoosiers' top three wide receivers (Demarco Belcher, Terrance Turner and Tandon Doss) have combined for 165 catches, 1,801 yards and 10 touchdowns this season . . . Quarterback Ben Chappell served as an instructor at the Manning Passing Academy in Hammond, La., during the summer . . . Tyler Replogle, a 6-2, 237-pound senior linebacker, is Indiana's second-leading tackler and co-captain as well as the "big" brother of 6-3, 295-pound sophomore defensive end Adam Replogle.