The still #4 Nittany Lions (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten) host the Indiana Hoosiers (3-1, 0-1 Big Ten) at St. Joe Memorial Stadium at Beaver on Saturday at 3:30. The Hoosiers are coming off a 52-17 dismantling of Georgia Suthun, while the Lions, as you know, managed to eke out a last second win over Iowa, 21-19. The Hoosiers’ only loss was to Ohio State back on Week 1.
You might recall that the Hoosiers gave the Ohio State Schmuckeyes a lot of trouble in the first half of their game earlier in the season. I hope that our esteemed head coach James Franklin stops spouting that “second half team” mantra like rilly, rilly soon, lest the Nittany Lions succumb to the self-fulfilling prophesy, winding up in a deep, dark, dusty hole in the first half. (I actually thought that last Iowa game could wind up 5-3, which would have avenged our 6-4 loss in 2004.)
Injuries and Deaths’ll Killya
In the Jowja Suthun game, Hoosiers head coach Tom Allen decided to hold back a number of starters, which is fortunate because several players suffered injuries in that meaningless game. One of the injured players was pro-sized, 6’6″, 240 lb quarterback Richard Lagow, who might have an ankle. (Yeah, read it again. Just Sportswriterese.) But he’s expected to play. Alas, the defense might have taken a hit, as cornerback A’Shon Riggins, safety Marcelino Ball, and defensive tackle Nate Hoff are all questionable for Saturday.
This potential defensive deficit might be something that greatly benefits the vaunted Penn State quick-strike offense.
Barkley Continues to Shine
Look at Saquon Barkley, our first serious Heisman candidate since John Cappelletti won the damn thing in 1973. (Larry Johnson wasn’t too serious.) Just look at Barkley. You can’t stop looking at him, already. With 358 yards in the last game, setting a school record, how the hell can anyone not enjoy this show? I just hope that his ankle tweak wasn’t anything that hampers his performances going forward. Featuring him in order to increase his marketability is a double-edged sword. Keeping him in there when the game is already in the bag increases his chances of getting injured. But, OMGOMG, is he ever fun to watch!
Hoosiers Against a Comparable Opponent, the Schmuckeyes
Going back to the Schmuckeyes game, tOSU was only able to score 3-pointers until 5:17 of the first half, when they finally sent Antonio Williams into da house on a one-yard plunge. Meanwhile, Richard Lagow had completed two TD passes for the Hoosiers, taking a 14-13 lead into the locker room. The lead see-sawed in the third quarter with both sides trading touchdowns. However, shortly after the Hoosiers took a 21-20 lead, J.T. Barrett hit Parris Campbell for a 74-yard TD pass, after which all hell broke loose and the Schmuckeyes took the lead for good. Final score reflects that the Bucks covered the 21-point spread: tOSU 49, Indiana 21.
In that game, tOSU had a slight edge in first downs (26-25) and TOP (31:50 – 28:10). The Hoosiers had 437 total yards, but their three turnovers killed them. (Turnovers’ll killya.) You might say that Indiana’s is a passing offense. Of the 437 yards total offense, 420 were aerial while a mere 17 were rushing. Two of the turnovers were INTs, because as we all know, when you throw the ball, three things can happen and two of them ain’t good.
We’re looking at a nice fall day at St. Joe. After a week of Native American Summer, a cold front moves through, imparting a nice high pressure environment, which is what we’re all hoping the Hoosiers will find Beaver Stadium to be. High of 63° with sun and a few clouds should make it a fun day for players and fans alike.
Da Bottom Line
We now arrive at the Official Turkey Poop Prediction, which is worth about as much as a pile of the filthy, fetid, foul fowl offal for which it is named. What do you think the chances are of getting this thing right for a change? Last week, I predicted 27-24, when all the egg-spurts were blowing wind about 45-10 and such. So, which way is this thing going to go this week? Talk among yourselves. Discuss!
The gambulation line favors Penn State by 17 (recall that they had favored tOSU by 21 back in the Hoosiers inaugural 2017 game), with an over/under of 66. Yeah, they be looking at Quickstrikeosis on one side and Lagowland on the other. A little math suggests that a score of 42-24 is roughly break-even for the wiseguys.
This one is a home game for the good guys, while the Hoosiers have some injuries to contend with. Here’s a prediction for you: in this game, we’ll see the rare combination of a kickoff return for a TD by Saquon Barkley and a punt return for a TD by little J-Shun Harris II. (The latter did it against Georgia Southern, but I don’t really expect him to do it against Penn State’s improved punt coverage. I just like the name, which adds a new twist to hyphenation while being completely devoid of apostrophes.) If Iowa’s receivers were getting open, then Richard Lagow has the ability at QB to torch the PSU secondary a few times (in the vernacular, he hurts you with his arm). Meanwhile, the defensive injuries at Indiana will doom them to their second Big Ten loss. Penn State 44, Indiana 24. Take the over.
I’ll return after the game with my sparkling insights and outsights.