Indiana heads to Penn State with its season on the line. If the Hoosiers win, then they can clinch a bowl bid with a win over Purdue. If they lose, then it's home for the holidays for the 18th time in 19 years. As I discussed earlier in the week, the Nittany Lions have been playing much better since their September losses to Ohio and Virginia. Against common opponents (Navy, Ohio State, Illinois, Northwestern, and Iowa), the Nittany Lions are 4-1 and IU is 2-3. Penn State has taken care of the dregs of the conference.
Perhaps no Penn State player has benefited more from the coaching change than QB Matthew McGloin. After being barely better than a 50 percent passer as a sophomore and junior, McGloin is completing 60 percent of his passes and has 19 TDs to 4 INTs and is throwing for 267 yards per game. He has made clear that the coaching he is receiving from Bill O'Brien and staff is better than what he received from Jay Paterno. Running back Silas Redd was the most notable defection last summer after the NCAA sanctioned Penn State, but Zach Zwinak has stepped in nicely, running for 682 years, 5 yards per carry, and 4 TDs. Bill Belton and Michael Zordich also have played a role, and McGloin has a team-leading 5 rushing TDs. Allen Robinson has led the way for Penn State receivers, with 786 yards and 8 TDs, and freshman TE Kyle Carter has 4 TDs and 453 yards.
On defense, linebacker Michael Mauti leads PSU in tackles and interceptions and has 2.5 sacks as well. Redshirt freshman Dion Barnes leads the Lions with 9 tackles for loss and 5 sacks. One thing that hasn't changed is that Penn State has a solid defense. The Nittany Lions rank in the top 40 in total defense, pass defense, pass efficiency defense, and rushing defense.
Well, do the Hoosiers have a chance to win their first-ever against Penn State? It will be difficult and will require an excellent and mistake-free effort. This season has been one of progress for Indiana, and that will be true even if IU finishes 4-8. While IU does have another chance to win, I am afraid that chance will be at Purdue. Penn State 34, Indiana 14.