How To Watch
Who? Indiana Hoosiers (5-4, #53 S&P+) at Penn State Nittany Lions (7-2, #9 S&P+)
When? Saturday, 11/12, 12:00 PM, Bloomington, Indiana
Channel? ABC / ESPN2
Vegas? INDIANA +5
S&P+ Projection? PENN STATE, 33.9 - 22.6 (26%)
ABC or ESPN2?— Indiana Football (@HoosierFootball) November 12, 2016
Check out today's coverage map. pic.twitter.com/zrVemVL3Ei
From this week’s preview by Kyle Swick on what to expect from Penn State
Penn State is a tricky evaluation, stumbling through the first month of the season to a 2-2 record that culminated in a blowout loss to Michigan that, as it turned out, said a lot more about Michigan than Penn State. The Nittany Lions haven't lost since and notched an impressive win over Ohio State along the way. Their 9th overall ranking in the S&P+ means they'll be the best team to come to Bloomington all season and it isn't remotely close.
Trace McSorley, incredible name and all, leads the nation's 5th best passing attack that is comprised of low efficiency (92nd) but absurdly high explosiveness (4th) which helps offset the efficiency issues. McSorley has 14 touchdowns against 3 interceptions for 2058 yards on the season, doing it all with just a 55.6% completion percentage. He's complemented with a rushing attack ranked 37th overall thanks to Saquon Barkley and his 1055 yards, 6.3 YPC and otherworldly 8.3 HY/O to go along with 11 touchdowns. McSorley is also a threat on the ground, chipping in 410 yards and 5 scores but has put the ball on the ground eight total times, losing three, which could possibly be significant to someone like Marcus Oliver who has forced four fumbles this season, but more on that later.
Chris Godwin gobbles up the most targets in the passing game, turning them into 34 catches for 509 yards and 5 touchdowns, leading the team in all categories and coming up big for the Nittany Lions on passing downs, where the offense is 12th in the country (15th on standard downs) including being the 2nd most explosive offense on passing downs in the country. Keeping Penn State off schedule simply isn't good enough, as their ability to generate chunk yardage can get them down the field in a couple of plays.
Defensively, Penn State doesn't show a great deal of weakness in any particular area outside of limiting explosiveness in the run game in which they're a dreadful 118th. They do a wonderful job of getting stuffs at the line and limiting successful plays, but when a runner does shake loose into the second level, things get sideways very quickly for the Nittany Lions. They're 36th in Havoc Rate fueled primarily by their defensive line lead by Garrett Sickels and his 13.5 combined TFL / sacks.
Marcus Allen and Malik Golden, both safeties, lead Penn State in tackles while each tallying 4 and 3.5 (respectively) tackles for loss. This helps explain the run defense, as it suggests the Nittany Lions are stacking the box early and often to prevent successful run plays, but when someone does shake free, there isn't a safety valve in front of the play.