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Takeaways: Penn State Crushes Indiana 45-14

Photo by Penn State Athletics

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — This was the kind of game Penn State was waiting for: a comfortable result hardly ever in doubt.

Indiana more than complied with Penn State, going through more quarterbacks (three) than scoring drives (two) and leaving little suspense about the outcome. After surviving an early mistake and turning away the Hoosiers’ efforts to take the lead, Penn State steamrolled to a 45-14 win over Indiana.

Here’s why Penn State (7-2, 4-2 Big Ten) cruised to its biggest win against Indiana (3-6, 1-5) since 2017.

DOMINANT DEFENSE

In fairness to Indiana, it played the final 35 minutes of the game with a hand tied behind its proverbial back after losing QB Jack Tuttle to injury. But with the way Penn State’s defense played Saturday, it probably wouldn’t have made much of a difference.

Penn State recorded six sacks in the first half and held the Hoosiers to 10 drives of three plays or fewer. Seven were three-and-outs, one ended the half and the other two came on second-half interceptions. On one of the four exceptions, Indiana started on Penn State’s 25 after an awful mistake by Sean Clifford, yet didn’t score because back-to-back sacks drove it entirely out of field goal range.

When Penn State’s defense gave its offense short fields, Penn State capitalized. The team pulled away because of interceptions on three of Indiana’s first five drives of the second half, all turning into Penn State touchdowns. For the game, Penn State outgained Indiana 483-196.

FABULOUS FRESHMEN

Indiana eventually picked up a few yards in garbage time, but not enough to keep Penn State’s freshman tandem of Kaytron Allen and Nicholas Singleton from outgaining Indiana’s entire offense.

The duo picked up 271 all-purpose yards and scored four touchdowns before both teams began substituting liberally. Throughout the game, Singleton and Allen took full advantage of some strong blocks by the Penn State line and some shoddy tackling by Indiana, which allowed them to regularly absorb the first hit and find open space. Allen’s best moment came on a third-quarter pass from Clifford that looked like it was going nowhere, but the back turned it into a 45-yard catch that just missed becoming a touchdown. Allen scored three plays later, a play that proved to be Clifford’s last for the game.

OFFSETTING THE WIND

The strong performance on the ground allowed Penn State to use the weather to its advantage. Rather than having to overcome the wind and throw for big yardage, Penn State could chew up yards and opt for safer completions that wouldn’t get carried away by the 25-mile-per-hour wind gusts in Bloomington.

Clifford finished 15-for-23, and most of his incompletions came when he tried to work against the wind and beat someone deep. When he kept things simple and didn’t try to do too much, he often found success in just letting his receivers break tackles.

The same could not be said for Indiana, which had to adjust to the wind and the intense pressure from Penn State’s pass rush. Nor did Drew Allar face the same situation when he came into the game in the third quarter. By the time the freshman quarterback took over for Clifford with the game well in hand, the wind had calmed down considerably. That helped Allar finish 8-for-11 on his passes and throw for two touchdowns in mop-up duty.

COMFORTABLE SHOWING

For the first time since 2016, Penn State barely had to break a sweat in Bloomington, a trip that had previously been a tough ask of the Nittany Lions against an improving Indiana program. Since 2013, when Indiana beat Penn State for the first time, three of the past four matchups in Bloomington were tight, one-score affairs. Saturday marked Penn State’s best showing against the Hoosiers since 2017 when it won at Beaver Stadium by the same score.

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