An early look at Penn State.

Penn State Nittany Lions
Last meeting:  11-15-2008 (Penn State 34, IU 7 in State College)
Last IU win: never
Series: Penn State leads 12-0
Coach: Joe Paterno
(44th season, 383-127-3)

IU's long run of futility against the Big Ten's big three continued last year with a lopsided loss at Penn State.  Of the 12 games between Indiana and Penn State, four (1993, 2000, 2004, and 2007) have been legitimately close, and I'll never quite get over IU's failure to score on first and goal from the 1 yard line in 2004.  Still, IU has never broken through, and Penn State seems to have moved past is early century mediocrity, so it may be a while before IU can find a way to its first win in this series.

Last season, of course, Penn State represented the Big Ten in the Rose Bowl, and probably would have played for the national championship if they could have won at Iowa.  IU seemed likely to become Penn State's punching bag in the week after the Iowa loss.

Surprisingly, however, IU stayed with the Lions for a half (box score).  Neither team scored in the first quarter, and after the Lions scored a touchdown with 10 minutes left in the second quarter, IU immediately responded with a 57-yard Marcus Thigpen touchdown run.  Penn State took the lead on a field goal at the end of the second quarter and scored on three of its first four possessions of the second half, and that was that.  IU finished the game with only 180 yards of total offense.

Unsurprisingly, for a team that was on the cusp of playing in the BCS title game, Penn State excelled statistically on both sides of the ball, ranking #14 in total offense and #8 in total defense.  The Lions averaged 8.3 yards per pass play and over 5 yards per rushing play.  Leading the way by contributing in both categories was quarterback Daryll Clark, who completed 60 percent of his passes, averaged 200 yards per game, and threw 19 TDs to 6 INTs.  Rushing, he averaged only 3.6 yards per carry but scored 10 touchdowns.  Also returning is Evan Royster, who ran for 1265 yards and an amazing 6.5 yards per carry.  The only bad news for Penn State's offense is that the Lions must replace most of the receiving corps. On defense, the Lions must replace nearly all of last season's D-line and secondary, but do return all-conference tackle Jared Odrick and most of the linebackers, including Sean Lee, who is back from injury. 

As I said above, Penn State seems to be back.  From 2000-2004, Penn State was 26-33, with four losing season in five years.  From 2005 to present, Penn State is 40-11.  IU may have missed its chance with close calls in 2000 and 2004.

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