Indiana (4-6) at Penn State (6-4)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 17, 12 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Beaver Stadium (106,572) -- University Park, Pennsylvania. Television: Big Ten Network. Home Record: IU 2-4, PSU 3-2. Away Record: IU 2-4, PSU 3-2. Neutral Record: IU 0-0, PSU 0-0. Conference Record: IU 2-4, PSU 4-2. Series Record: PSU leads, 15-0.
GAME NOTES: The Indiana Hoosiers will try to capture their first-ever win over the Penn State Nittany Lions when the two meet up on Saturday afternoon for a Big Ten tussle at Beaver Stadium.
Penn State has won all 15 meetings in the head-to-head series, which began in 1993. The Nittany Lions notched a 16-10 victory when these teams met up last Fall in Bloomington, and the Hoosiers would go on to finish their 2011 campaign with a 1-11 record.
However, IU has turned things around this season and can become bowl eligible by winning its final two games, although both are on the road. Coming off back-to-back Big Ten wins for the first time since 2007, the Hoosiers were dealt a 62-14 setback to Wisconsin this past weekend. Following this tilt, they'll travel to Purdue in next week's regular-season finale.
With two losses over its last three contests, Penn State has fallen two games back of Ohio State in the Leaders Division. One of those losses came against the Buckeyes, while the other came at Nebraska last week in a 32-23 final. Ineligible for postseason play due to NCAA sanctions, the Nittany Lions will stay on campus to wrap up their season next Saturday against Wisconsin.
Indiana has found some success moving the football under new offensive coordinator Seth Littrell (Arizona) and second-year head coach Kevin Wilson, who previously served as the offensive coordinator at Oklahoma. The Hoosiers had set a school record by scoring 24 or more points in 10 straight games, which just came to an end against Wisconsin. In fact, they managed to eclipse last season's points total with four games to spare. IU enters this tilt atop the Big Ten in passing offense (293.2 ypg), while ranking third in both total offense (431.4 ypg) and scoring offense (31.2 ppg). Cody Latimer, Shane Wynn and Kofi Hughes are all in the top-10 in the conference in receptions. That trio was mostly held in check against Wisconsin as quarterback Cameron Coffman had an up-and-down day, finishing with 233 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions on 25-of-46 passing.
Whereas Indiana has really made some strides on the offensive side of the ball this season, the team ranks dead-last in the Big Ten in both total defense (445.8 ypg allowed) and scoring defense (32.2 ppg allowed). Last week, Wisconsin's rushing attack gashed the Hoosiers for big gain after big gain, racking up a ridiculous 564 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground. The Badgers managed a staggering 8.8 yards per carry as a team, nearly averaging a first down per tote. With IU rendered completely ineffective against the run, Wisconsin quarterback Curt Phillips attempted only seven passes. That gameplan also took away the Hoosiers' strength defensively, as they lead the Big Ten in tackles for loss and rank third in sacks. Sophomore safety Mark Murphy matched a career-high with 13 tackles in the loss, including a personal-best nine solo stops.
Similar to their counterpart, the Nittany Lions have also undergone a bit of an offensive makeover under new head coach Bill O'Brien, who was previously the offensive coordinator for the New England Patriots. After ranking ninth in the conference in passing offense a year ago, PSU currently ranks second in that department. Under O'Brien, the team has made that leap in the passing game with the same quarterback as last season in senior Matt McGloin, and despite losing a handful of key players and recruits in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal. In 10 games, McGloin has averaged 267.6 passing yards (60.7 percent) with 19 touchdowns and only four interceptions, compared to last season when he averaged 130.9 passing yards (54.1 percent) with only eight touchdowns and five picks. His primary target, sophomore Allen Robinson, leads the Big Ten in receptions (63), receiving yards (786) and receiving TDs (8).
Linebacker U is alive and well in Happy Valley, where the Nittany Lions boast one of the nation's premier linebacking trios. Michael Mauti (93 tackles), Gerald Hodges (90 tackles) and Glenn Carson (65 tackles) have each played integral roles on the defensive side of the ball. Mauti has also collected three interceptions and three forced fumbles, while Hodges has racked up 7.5 tackles for loss. However, the defense was certainly not free from blame in last week's loss, as Nebraska erased a double-digit deficit in the second half. Granted, PSU's offense was shut out over those final 30 minutes, even taking a key safety late in the fourth quarter. But after keeping Nebraska out of the end zone in the first half, the Nittany Lions gave up three TDs and a field goal after halftime. Mauti, Hodges and Carson each finished with double- digit tackles in the loss.
Although the Nittany Lions have dominated this head-to-head series, they aren't likely to simply walk all over the Hoosiers, who are fighting for a possible bowl berth. Look for both teams to put some points on the board in this one, although PSU should ultimately prevail at home.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Penn State 38, Indiana 28
11/14 10:34:12 ET