Indiana rolls into Happy Valley while feeling beat up for the first time this season. Previously the Hoosiers had at least moral victories and almosts to hang their hats on going into the next week. This week there isn't much to take from the Wisconsin game. So first set of expectations is to see IU come out with some fire. They can't come out slow and dead or they'll be meat from the get go. Other than that we're looking for more moral victories than actual victories in this one.
Of course that isn't saying that an actual victory is impossible. It is just implausible. Penn State despite their probations are still a very good team with a very strong set of horses. They weren't just going to disappear into oblivion overnight. They'll certainly come down to earth in future years but for now you don't want to mess with the Lions.
Defensively, Indiana shouldn't be overly intimidated by the Penn State offense. If any squad took a hit by the sanctions it was the offense. Silas Redd evacuated immediately and though Zach Zwinak has been really good for Penn State he hasn't been out of this world. Certainly in the last two games he's come on strong but he's not someone that is going to intimidate the oposition (yet). Adam Replogle and Larry Black Jr. have been ever improving at DT this year and I have no concerns with them doing what needs to get done. Where the concern comes for the defense and especially the line is in the DEs.
Matt McGloin is looking like the conference's best quarterback this season, despite having some limited weapons around him. The Hoosier defensive ends have been pretty mediocre all year. This where the alarm bells go off in my head. If we can't generate any pressure on McGloin then the secondary doesn't stand a chance. McGloin is great at taking what you give him and doesn't make mistakes. Something the Hoosier defense needs opposing QBs to do in order to remain competitive.
On offense is where the Hoosiers will have the most problems. Penn State's D terrifies me. Although they've certainly had their letdowns throughout the season the physical difference between Penn State's defense and what we've seen from most teams this season is night and day. Cam Coffman best be on his game if he wants IU to stand a chance. Luckily I think this is where IU and Kevin Wilson's offense has a slight advantage. The hurry up could be the maker or the back breaker for the Hoosiers.
Penn State is used to running full speed to get off the field as quick as possible. If Indiana can come out and wind the D with some quick moving sustained drives then maybe, just maybe there will be some magic brewing. Overall, I wouldn't expect much from the offense though. I'd say if we can limit turnovers and generate three successful drives it's a win in my book.
Is this overly negative? Maybe, but we all need to be careful with this team. It certainly is still growing and developing. Don't let that Rose Bowl nonsense blow this season out of proportion. Young guys are still growing and the team is still developing. Just sit back and enjoy the positives and don't take the negatives too hard.