BLOOMINGTON, Ind.— At halftime at Memorial Stadium, the Penn State Nittany Lions lead the Indiana Hoosiers by 24-7. Here are three reasons why Penn State is in a prime position to earn its seventh win of the season.
Other than one first-quarter drive that saw Indiana score its only touchdown of the half, Penn State’s defense manhandled the Hoosiers’ offensive line. The Nittany Lions slipped into the Indiana backfield to record six sacks in the first half, completely taking the Hoosiers out of their passing attack.
It didn’t matter whether Indiana put senior Jack Tuttle or freshman Brendan Sorsby behind the center; the Nittany Lions received little resistance from the Hoosiers’ offensive line. The best example came right after the Hoosiers drove to the Penn State 20 after a Sean Clifford interception, seemingly in prime position to cash in and take the lead for the first time. Instead, the Nittany Lions came up with back-to-back sacks and made sure that the Hoosiers didn’t even get to attempt a field goal, forcing a punt.
DOMINATING AT THE LINE
The windy conditions favored running the football, and Penn State ensured that Indiana couldn’t do much of anything when it tried to run. Indiana finished with minus-6 rushing yards and a mere four first downs for the half, getting almost all of their yardage on their second drive of the game. About the only play that worked for the Hoosiers was spreading out the field and letting Tuttle run for a first down, but even that eventually stopped finding success.
On 10 carries, Tuttle managed a mere eight yards before giving way to Sorsby, and three of the five running backs the Hoosiers tried finished the half with negative yardage. In contrast, Penn State ran 26 times for 95 yards and effectively killed the Hoosiers’ chances of getting back in the game.
MAKING EARLY ADJUSTMENTS
That’s not to say it was a flawless first half for Penn State. In contrast, the Nittany Lions had one stretch where they could have found themselves staring at a much different game. When Clifford threw an interception on the first play of Penn State’s third drive, the Nittany Lions could have panicked and found themselves playing from behind. Instead, the defense stood firm and kept Indiana from cashing in on its early good fortune.
When the Nittany Lions got the ball back, Clifford looked like he had learned from his earlier mistakes and instead took what the Hoosiers and the wind were willing to give him. Penn State scored on its final three drives of the first half, creating a comfortable edge.