Penn State Nittany Lions
2009 record: 8-2 (4-2)
2008 record: 11-2 (7-1), Big Ten Champions; lost to USC in Rose Bowl
2008 Sagarin: 8
2009 Sagarin: 19
Coach: Joe Paterno (44th season, 391-129-3)
Series: Penn State leads 12-0.
TV: noon, Big Ten Network
Blogs: Black Shoe Diaries, Zombie Nation, The Nittany Line.
IU must win out to become bowl eligible, and the next obstacle is a team that IU has never defeated. Despite the 0-12 record, IU has been reasonably competitive with Penn State when playing at home. Of the five games played in Bloomington (plus the one game played in Indianapolis), four have been decided by a touchdown or less (although the 1994 game wasn't really that close). Of the six games in State College, only IU's first trip, a 38-31 loss in 1993, was competitive.
Penn State began the season with national championship hopes, but the Nittany Lions have dropped two home games, to Iowa and to Ohio State. The Penn State offense has been respectable, but a dominant defense has been the key to the Lions' 8-2 record. Penn State allows only 262 yards per game and barely ten points per game, both top ten figures. In the 21-10 loss to Iowa and the 24-7 loss to Ohio State, the Penn State offense has failed, not the defense. Quarterback Daryll Clark has been respectable as a passer, completing 61 percent of his passes and throwing for 18 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. He also has run for 168 yards and 6 touchdowns. Evan Royster leads the Lions with 895 yards and an incredible 5.7 yards per carry. Penn State spreads things around with the passing game: wide receivers Graham Zug, Derek Moye, and Chaz Powell, and tight end Andrew Quarless all have between 347 and 648 receiving yards. On defense, as always, there are too many to name for the Nittany Lions, but linebacker Josh Hull averages nearly 10 tackles per game.
The Hoosiers have struggled to run the ball, and despite moving the ball reasonably well in the air, have struggled to score. The Penn State defense has excelled at both stopping the run and keeping opponents out of the end zone. There's really no positive gloss to put on this game. IU is a decided underdog, and a win would be a big surprise. Despite a mostly competitive season, the Hoosiers have no more margin for error.