2019-11-14 18:25:261 Oct 2018 01:53 AM EST
-by TJ Inman, Contributing Writer; Image: Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford. (Image Source: GoPSUSports)
Bloomington, IN—Here’s a breakdown of No. 9 Penn State:
Head Coach: James Franklin
Overall: 6th Season, 53-21 (.716)
Bowl Appearances at Penn State: 5
2018 Record: 9-4 (6-3, Big Ten East)
Bowl Appearances Since 2000: 13 (6-7)
Mascot: Nittany Lion
Colors: Blue and White
National Titles: 2
Conference Titles: 5
Heisman Winners: 1
2019 Record: 8-1 (5-1)
Last Week: LOST 31-26 @ Minnesota
Passing Sean Clifford (157-259, 60.6 Comp %, 2271 Passing Yards, 21 TD, 6 INTs)
Rushing Journey Brown (65 attempts, 421 yards, 6.5 avg, 5 TDs)
Receiving KJ Hamler (44 receptions, 739 yards, 8 TDs)
Tackles Micah Parsons (68 TKLs, 8.0 TFL, 2 Sacks)
Interesting Statistic: Though Indiana finds themselves ranked in the AP Poll for the first time since 1994, the Penn State Nittany Lions currently hold the 5th longest active streak for consecutive weeks ranked at 52 weeks. This stretch dates back to 2016. Alabama holds the title for the longest active streak at 191 weeks, dating back all the way to 2008 and 65 weeks ahead of second place (Ohio State).
1. Red Zone woes ultimately doomed the Nittany Lions against Minnesota.
Despite coming into the Minnesota game ranked 11th nationally in touchdown conversion percentage inside the red zone, failure to convert drives into touchdowns is what ultimately doomed the Nittany Lions last week in Minneapolis. Four of their red zone drives finished with two field goals and two interceptions. On the road against an undefeated and jazzed Minnesota team, they simply had to be better and convert more drives into touchdowns. Head Coach James Franklin blamed the woes on a simple “lack of urgency.”
“There we were inside the red zone and there’s so many times where I’m right there to call a timeout and we snap it right at the last second… We were like that all day long, we didn’t have a sense of urgency.”
Play calling also seemed questionable at times, as offensive coordinator Ricky Rahne called fades designed for 5’9” KJ Hamler and quarterback draws on multiple occasions inside the 5 yard line.
On one side, you have a Penn State team that saw their College Football Playoff hopes significantly shrink last weekend with their loss to Minnesota. Many Nittany Lion fans assumed they’d be heading to Columbus to take on the Buckeyes still undefeated and controlling their destiny for the playoffs. Now, their vision of finishing in the top four is a bit blurry.
On the other hand, though coming off a bye week, the Indiana program finds themselves ranked for the first time since September of 1994. With six wins being the ultimate goal for the Hoosiers at the end of the season, they have already exceeded expectations.
The game could be a battle of managing expectations, as Indiana tries to prove they are worthy of being in the polls and Penn State tries to prove they are still worthy of their original top four rank.
There’s no doubt that with Rashad Bateman and Tyler Johnson, Minnesota has one of the best receiving duos in the Big Ten. The two combined for over 300 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns by themselves Saturday against Penn State. But Indiana has some playmakers at the receiving position as well. Seniors Nick Westbrook and Donovan Hale lead a group that includes one of the best receivers in the Big Ten this year, Whop Philyor. With as impressive as the Indiana passing attack has looked this year, it will be interesting to see if the Hoosiers can find similar success on the road against this Penn State secondary. The key to it all may come down to how Indiana is able to run the ball, which is what fooled the Nittany Lions last week.
“Through film study, we watched them run it down people’s throats, so we were concerned with that," Penn State linebacker Jan Johnson said. “We didn’t think they were going to hit as many passes as they did."
With a balanced attack, Indiana could see similar passing lanes open up to get their playmakers in open space.
To read more from Sammy Jacobs and his staff at HoosierHuddle.com, click here.
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