College Football: Indiana Hoosiers at Penn State Nittany Lions

Last week’s loss to the Minnesota Golden Gophers likely dashed Penn State’s national championship aspirations. The Nittany Lions are now 80-1 to win the national championship, and they are ninth in the latest CFP rankings. To overcome the odds and become a contender once more, Penn State must beat the No. 2 Ohio St Buckeyes next week, but they have a difficult trap game in Week 12. Penn State will welcome the 7-2 Indiana Hoosiers to Happy Valley this Saturday.

INDIANA HOOSIERS AT PENN STATE NITTANY LIONS
CFB ODDS: PENN STATE -14.5
CFB TOTAL: 54.5

Although Indiana is 7-2, the oddsmakers don’t believe in the Hoosiers. They have yet to beat a quality opponent, and they were pummeled 51-10 by Ohio State earlier this season. Indiana lost to a down Michigan State team too, and the Hoosiers were not too impressive in wins over Maryland and Nebraska. That’s why Penn State is favored by more than two touchdowns on Saturday.

There has been significant movement on the total in this game. The over/under was initially 50, but that number has shot up by 4.5 points. It appears set to rise some more too, so this game could have more fireworks than oddsmakers originally believed.

RECENT HISTORY

Indiana has only defeated Penn State once in its history, and that lone victory came in 2013. The Hoosiers hammered the Nittany Lions 44-24 in Bloomington, but the Nittany Lions have won the other 21 games in this series.

WHEN INDIANA HAS THE BALL

Michael Penix Jr. is out for the rest of the season for the Hoosiers. The sensational freshman quarterback has been sidelined with a shoulder injury, and Indiana will lose some of its playmaking ability without him in the lineup.

Fortunately, Peyton Ramsey has had a solid year in a complementary role, and Indiana won’t miss anything in the passing game with Ramsey taking the snaps. He has completed three percent more of his passes than Penix, but he doesn’t pose near the same running threat. While Penix was sacked just once this season, Ramsey has been sacked more times despite throwing less passes.

Ramsey has a couple playmakers at the skill positions too in wide receiver Whop Philyor and running back Stevie Scott III. Philyor has twice as many receiving yards as the next closest Indiana player with 59 receptions for 813 yards and three touchdowns, while Scott is averaging 5.0 YPC. That’s why Indiana’s offense is rated No. 15 per SP+.

They will be facing a Penn State defense that is No. 8 in the country by that same metric. The Nittany Lions allowed a lot of big plays against Minnesota last week, and they will need to tighten that up if they want to cover the football betting line.

WHEN PENN STATE HAS THE BALL

Sean Clifford had his worst game of the season last week, and he will need to bounce back in a big way. The sophomore has really struggled with his accuracy in his last four games, so don’t be surprised if James Franklin calls more underneath routes to help on that front.

Clifford has completed less than 57 percent of his passes in each of his last four games, and he has averaged under 8.0 YPA in all those games too. The Hoosiers have one of the better secondaries in the conference, allowing 6.6 YPA, so Clifford could have some trouble in this game.

He does have an excellent weapon in K.J. Hamler though. Hamler has risen to the occasion against Penn State’s best opponents, and he leads the team with 44 receptions for 739 yards with eight touchdowns. The sophomore receiver caught seven passes for 119 yards to keep Penn State hanging around against Minnesota last week despite some miscues on that side of the ball.

The Nittany Lions are averaging 4.6 YPC, but they should have significant success against an Indiana defense allowing 4.1 YPC on the year. The Hoosiers have only played one good offense (Ohio State), and Penn State represents a major upgrade from the other teams they have played.

PREDICTION

Indiana will keep it close and earn the cover per the football betting odds, but Penn State will get the victory to set up a massive showdown with Ohio State in Columbus next week.

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