Penn State Nittany Lions
2007 record: 5-2 (2-2)
2007 Sagarin: 24 (IU is #52)
2006 record: 9-4 (5-3), defeated Tennessee in Outback Bowl
2006 Sagarin: 18
Series: Penn State leads 10-0
Last IU win: never
Last Penn State win: 2004 (22-18 in Bloomington)
Last Penn State win in Bloomington: see above
Penn State is represented by several outstanding blogs, linked on the right. Of particular note, Mike of Black Shoe Diaries and I currently are going back and forth via e-mail and will cross-post the exchange on both blogs later in the week.
After a disappointing performance last weekend at Michigan State, the Hoosiers, not willing to schedule soft for homecoming, will attempt to defeat Penn State for the first time ever. In both of IU's losses this season, powerful running backs have made the Hoosier defense look silly. Unfortunately, Penn State has run the ball successfully, particularly in recent weeks, and this game will be a big test for the IU coaching staff, as they try to figure out a way to do to Penn State what IU couldn't do to Illinois and MSU.
Statistically, for the entire season, Penn State and IU look fairly comparable offensively, although IU certainly has played a weaker schedule. IU has scored 36 points a game to Penn State's 32.7, averages 411 yards in total offense per game to Penn State's 408, and the two teams are within 100 yards of each other in rushing and passing. Defensively, Penn State has been much more stingy than IU, allowing only 12 points per game to IU's 25, and allowing only 264 yards to IU's 384.
Penn State's second leading rusher, Austin Scott, is suspended because of a rape allegation. Evan Royster has 225 yards and 6.8 per carry in only four games played. Kinlaw and Royster both have averaged over five yards per carry in the Lions' wins over Iowa and Wisconsin, two once-respectable defensive teams. Anthony Morelli, who was fairly erratic in his first year as a starter in 2006 (53 percent, 11 TD, 8 INT) has been okay this year. He has increased his percentage to about 58 percent and has matched his 11 TD total of 2006, but also has 6 interceptions. Three of Morelli's interceptions came in the loss to Illinois, and he threw two more in the win over Iowa, but took care of the ball last week. I'm sure the Penn State coaches would love nothing more than to gain about 300 yards on the ground and keep the game out of Morelli's hands. Unless the Hoosiers find a way to defend the run, that may well happen.
I felt better about this game before last weekend. IU's recent weakness and Penn State's recent strength match up all too well. Still, we've had a few close calls in the 10 games of this series, and let's hope the Hoosiers find a way.