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Who? Indiana Hoosiers (2-1 [0-1], #45 S&P+) at Penn State Nittany Lions (4-0 [1-0], #7 S&P+)
When? Saturday, 9/30 3:30 PM, Happy Valley, Pennsylvania
Vegas? PENN STATE -18
S&P+ Projection? PENN STATE 36.9 - 18.8
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From this week's Game Preview, Kyle Swick highlights three keys for today's game:
DB Health: A-shon Riggins and Marcelino Ball were both banged up against Georgia Southern while Rashad Fant was held out of the game completely as preventative maintenance. This secondary will need all hands on deck to have a chance in Happy Valley and it seems unlikely that Indiana is lucky enough to have all three in the lineup come Saturday. Special Teams: Indiana’s special teams unit is all of the sudden legitimately good. Haydon Whitehead has been an excellent weapon for a struggling offense, averaging 42.2 net yards on his punt and having 69% of his punts either land inside the 20 or fair caugh. Griffin Oakes is healthy and back to being one of the best kickers in the conference, he’s perfect on the year on his point kicks and has 11 touchbacks on kickoffs. Both kickers have helped limit Indiana’s opponent’s to an average starting field position of the 25 yard-line, good for 15th in the country. Then there’s feel-good story of the year, J-Shun Harris, who is averaging over 26 yards per return and has already scored twice on punt returns this season. If Indiana pulls off the upset, it’ll likely involve asserting themselves in the one phase of the game they have the advantage over the Nittany Lions in. Finish defensive drives: Despite Indiana’s success in limiting big plays and an overall great defensive outfit, they struggle mightily once teams get inside the 40-yard line, surrendering more points per trip inside the 40 than all but eight teams. Indiana can’t just keep escorting opponents to the end zone once they breach the 40 and expect to win games. Penn State’s kicker, Tyler Davis has hit 4 of 8 kicks this year and it would behoove the Hoosiers to make the Nittany Lions turn to him inside the 40 yard line if they want to stay in the game.
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