Can Indiana Kick Off Big Ten Play with a Win?

By josephsmith
Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

This week, coach Kevin Wilson and his Indiana Hoosiers get to play host to one of the most decorated and recognized teams in Big Ten and all of college football, the Penn State Nittany LionsThe horrific scandal involving former coach Jerry Sandusky was a devastating blow to so many Penn State alumni and fans.

These Nittany Lions supporters stuck with their team and showed pride and fortitude. They hired a new coach, and boy they got a good one. Bill O’Brien has helped lead the team forward and on from the past. He has done such a great job with their program that the NCAA has decided to lessen the sanctions imposed on the Penn State program.

While Wilson is undoubtedly happy for coach O’Brien, he is definitely ready to put something behind himself and his team and that would be their performance against the Missouri Tigers. The game did not pan out the way the Hoosiers had hoped and they were unable to slow down their SEC adversary.

The Tigers were able to have their way with the Hoosiers’ defense, scoring 45 points. Their spread offense was very effective through the air as well as on the ground.

On Saturday, the Hoosiers will be facing a pro style offense in Penn State. Penn State struggled to move the ball through the air against Kent State at times. It would be nice for the Hoosiers to take something away from Kent State’s game plan, but it is more than likely that Penn State watched the same game plan, and quarterback Christian Hackenberg and wide receiver Allen Robinson have watched the same game film and have made their own adjustments.

For the Indiana defense to be truly effective, they need to get after the freshman quarterback. Anyone who has watched Hackenburg is well aware of his arm strength and natural talent as a passer. All the talent in the world is sometimes not enough to make up for lack of experience.

Nick Mangieri, the Hoosiers defensive end, will have his ears pinned back as he harasses Hackenberg in the pass rush on Saturday. He and the rest of the defensive line need to put Hackenberg on his back and force him to hurry some of his throws on Saturday.

The Lions have developed their running game and will be a team determined to be two-dimensional. The Hoosiers may prefer for the Lions to keep the ball on the ground and out of Robinson’s hands, but they cannot allow the Penn State rushing attack to control the clock either.

On offense, the game plan will be simple for the Hoosiers — continue to do what has worked. What has worked is sophomore signal caller Nate Sudfeld. Sudfeld is a dual-threat quarterback and is the lifeblood of the Hoosiers offense. The Hoosiers need Sudfeld to rebound from a lackluster performance against Missouri, and all signs are pointing towards a big rebound game for the sophomore.

Lined up with Sudfeld in the backfield will be two very capable running backs, Tevin Coleman and Steven Houston.  The Hoosiers will also attempt to establish a balanced attack offensively. In the end, the Hoosiers may have too much offensive firepower to go along with a loud home-field advantage.

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