Indiana's First Big Ten Loss Will Come This Saturday

By Derek Helling

It’s going to be a long conference season for the Indiana Hoosiers. That starts this Saturday for the team with the worst defense in the Big Ten. The Nittany Lions of Penn State are coming in to Bloomington and will prove themselves to be the better team.

There are no questions as to which team has the better offense. Indiana’s numbers are better than Penn State’s in almost every category. The Nittany Lions’ offense has been quite pedestrian through four games. If this game turns into a shootout, it won’t be a game for long. If you only compare the two offenses, it looks like Penn State is bringing a knife to a gun fight.

Fortunately for the Nittany Lions, they have a defense that won’t let the Indiana offense turn a football game into a track meet. Through four games, Penn State is allowing less than 15 points and 285 yards of total offense per game. The Nittany Lions have forced five turnovers, recorded eight sacks and are holding their opponents to a third-down conversion rate of 30 percent.

If Daquan Jones can get in the face of Nate Sudfield, this will be a long game for Indiana.

The best strategy that the Nittany Lions can execute is to keep Zach Zwinek and the rest of their own offense on the field for as much time as possible. The Hoosiers come into this game with a average time of possession deficit of almost nine minutes per game. Penn State needs to push that up over 15 minutes. To do that, they are going to have to be more efficient on third down than their current 21 percent conversion rate.

The special teams numbers for these teams are about even, but Indiana’s place kicker Mitch Ewald has only had to attempt one field goal so far this season, and it was inside of 30 yards. If the Nittany Lions can turn this into a field position game, they should win easily.

Penn State is nothing spectacular on offense, but they are solid on defense. Against an Indiana defense that is allowing nearly 464 yards of offense per game, they don’t have to be anything special on offense to win. Saturday will be the first of many painful losses for the Hoosiers.

Derek Helling is a writer for Follow him on Twitter, “like” him on Facebook and add him on Google+.

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