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Walker’s 3 Keys to Penn State Beating Indiana

Photo by Penn State Athletic: Keyvone Lee had a solid debut at Indiana

No. 15 Penn State comes into its game against Indiana as 13.5-point favorites according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

The team would like to bounce back from its loss to Ohio State, where it held the lead in the fourth quarter before giving up 28 to the Buckeyes, resulting in a 44-31 loss last Saturday.

There have been questions on who the starting quarterback will be between Sean Clifford and Drew Allar, and how playing time is distributed between the two. On paper, Indiana shouldn’t pose too much of a threat. The Hoosiers have lost five straight games and have only won one game in conference play since the start of the 2021 season. But the last time coach James Franklin’s squad played at Memorial Stadium, it lost 36-35 on the controversial Michael Penix Jr. two-point conversion play.

Here are the keys to Penn State avoiding a major upset and still being in line for a New Year’s Six bowl game.

PENN STATE KEY NO. 1: RUN THE BALL EARLY, OFTEN

No matter who the quarterback is, Penn State needs to run the ball with Nick Singleton and Kaytron Allen.

Indiana’s allowed 154.6 rushing yards per game, which is 83rd in the country. The statuses of linemen Olu Fashanu and Landon Tengwall are up in the air, so backup linemen might need to help Penn State power football and not put the QB in harm’s way. The only player that’s a real threat on Indiana’s defense is Dasan McCullough, who was a four-star prospect coming out of high school. He has four sacks and 5.5 tackles for loss this season, and he could be a problem for a compromised offensive line.

KEY NO. 2: PLAY DISCIPLINED

The only way I can see Penn State losing this game is if it beats itself.

By now, Penn State should have learned— not necessarily from the Ohio State loss, but from the Northwestern game in which it turned the ball over five times playing in a monsoon— not to play down to its competition.

The forecast for Saturday’s game is 64 degrees with rain. Weather always acts as an equalizer in football for teams who have a talent disparity. Penn State needs to keep penalties to a minimum with defensive holding and pass interference calls that keep drives alive for Indiana, and pre-snap penalties that put its offense behind the sticks.

KEY NO. 3: BE READY

After playing in the Maize Out at Michigan and the White Out and Stripe Out at home, Penn State won’t be going into as raucous of an environment, especially at a basketball school on the eve of the college basketball season.

With that being said, Indiana won’t lay down for Penn State.

Penn State has to establish that its the better team early by scoring a touchdown on the first drive, forcing a three and out, scoring again the next drive and not letting up.

I expect the Nittany Lions to get to the point that both quarterbacks play, and a lot of young players have some on-field action in a game that has been decided.

Twitter: @bwalkerdadon

 

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