It's difficult to guess what to expect from Penn State this week. The Nittany Lions came off a bye week, had an excellent week of practice by all accounts, and put up only 17 points against Michigan State last Saturday. After winning 16 straight at home, they dropped back-to-back games to Ohio State and the Spartans at Beaver Stadium.
So now what? The Lions go on the road for the first time in nearly a month to an environment that's a little more sedate than the usual away venue. Indiana does some things well. The Hoosiers are tied for 11th in FBS in takeaways with 14. Dual-threat quarterback Peyton Ramsey is tough when he's on and his offensive line does a good job of protecting him. Stevie Scott is the top freshman rusher in the Big Ten, although he was limited to 29 rushing yards last week by Iowa.
Penn State averages 252 yards a game on the ground and should be able to run against the Big Ten's 10th-best rush defense. But can the Lions, after sputtering through the air in the first half of the season, get their passing game untracked? Coaches and players vow every week that they're working extra hard at it but the results last week were not good. Trace McSorley played one of his worst games and an exhausted defense couldn't hold off Michigan State at the end.
What seemed like a gimme for Penn State a few weeks ago is now a must-win. After dropping two straight, and with Iowa, Michigan and Wisconsin coming up in the next three weeks, the Lions need to get their confidence back. Everyone on the team, from veterans to young players, must play as close to mistake-free football as possible.
They will but it won't be pretty: Penn State 31, Indiana 21.