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. betway 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.
Big Al says
When the starter’s are healthy, Indiana is a better team than Iowa. But they have little depth, and with 3 defensive starters either out or playing impaired, State should win fairly comfortably.
However, I don’t know what State’s defense approach is going to be for this game. If Pry decides to sell out against the run, like he did against Iowa, Indiana is going to score over 30 points with big plays. if he concentrates on defending the pass, Indiana will beat us in time of possession, but be held under 30 points.
For the previous 4 years, the 5th game has set the tone for the rest of the season and revealed how just how good (or bad) the team really is. This year should be no different. With a comfortable win, State will by on the road to contending for the B1G title and double digits wins. With a loss or another shaky last minute win, we’re probably looking at an 8-4 season.
Logic says that the Turkey’s prediction is right and State wins by 3 scores and covers the spread. My gut tells me that this game exposes State’s flaws and they don’t cover.
My prediction: Indiana 35 – Penn State 34. Indiana scores 3 50 yard+ touchdowns when Cabinda/Apke can’t cover their man, and State misses 2 of 4 field goal attempts, including the potential game winner as time runs out.
The Nittany Turkey says
You bring up a very interesting point with respect to the fifth game of the year. Thanks for bringing us that insight, the Gospel According to Big Al: “Whither goeth the fifth game, so goeth the season.”
So, 8-4 if they falter against Indiana? To me, that would mean also losing to Michigan, tOSU, and Maryland. (I am going back on my original fears regarding NWU due to their loss to Duke, but we’ll find out a lot more after they play Wisconsin this weekend). Anyhow, I can easily admit the possibility of 8-4 or 9-3, while many others cannot see past a single loss (to tOSU) and yet others with blinders still on are still predicting an undefeated season.
The Cynical Turkey respects your prediction. Mine was driven by the IU defense injuries plus some of that old spirit of denial that keeps telling me that this team lives up to the hype with great expectations of a return to the old glory days at PSU. The 2017 Nittany Lions have warts, to be sure, but my prediction ignores them.
All we know is that Barkley will get his yards, unless the IU defense completely sells out on him. If that happens, McSorley and the wide receivers will compensate for it with their vaunted quick-strike capability — assuming McSorely doesn’t channel Hack as he has been doing.
Franklin has at least admitted that they need to work on third-down conversions. He’s shying away from saying that time of possession is irrelevant in today’s game as he famously had done a couple of weeks ago. Now, he just needs to shut his trap about being a second-half team, lest it continue being a self-fulfilling prophesy.
Got ya down for 35-34 Indiana with a botched field goal going for the win as time expires. That would be another heart attack special, which I hope I won’t have to endure. When euphoria faded after dispatching Iowa, my mind went back to the look of the team in the second half — they looked weary and defeated. I’ll give McSorley credit for pulling them together for the drive we’ll either long remember if this season doesn’t turn out to be a bust, or that we’ll bury in the dust bins of our minds if it does.
Big Al says
Actually, it’s not my gospel. It’s Franklin’s. He said it during a press conference a couple of weeks ago. He brought it up in reference to last year’s game with Minnesota, but it does apply to the last four seasons. In 2013, the 5th game (against Indiana) showed that Butler’s defense sucked. In 2015, the 5th game (against Army) removed all doubt about Donovan’s incompetence as an offensive coordinator.
Finally, in 2014, the 5th game (against Northwestern) demonstrated that State was not going to contend for the B1G championship – much to the dismay of the Kool Aid drinkers who were sure Hackenberg was going to lead us to the promised land. IMO 2014 is sort of like this year. State was 4-0 coming into the 5th game and had made not just one, but TWO last minute comebacks against allegedly tough opponents (UCF and Rutgers) to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. According to the BSD Bros, Hack was a Heisman trophy contender and the team had incredible guts and determination.
And just like 2014, the fanboys are overlooking some annoying flaws with the team. Namely, State doesn’t run well between the tackles. That makes it difficult to convert 3rd downs and score touchdowns from inside the 10 yard line. The field goal kicking unit has a new snapper and holder and it is unreliable. The so called defensive improvement is an illusion. The defense has played three crappy offenses and one offense with a one dimensional running attack. Our linebacker play so far has been pretty marginal. .Pry sold out to stop the run against Iowa and that created a lot of 3 and outs. However, Iowa would up scoring more points and getting more yardage than they did in last year’s game because of three big plays. Truth is, our linebackers can’t cover decent receivers and our only defense against a competent passing team is our pass rush.
The Nittany Turkey says
Yeah, that inside running thing again. You can’t fault Barkley, who has the patience, competence, strength, and speed to do the inside running. Where does it point — the usual, conical suspects. Wonder whether a fullback would help, but that would be out of character for the JoMo offense, I suppose. I’m back to what would help would be a decent, Big Ten offensive line.
And, verily, I’m not buying the improved defense line. If anything, they’re weaker up front than last year, and the season-ending injury to Torrence Brown made them even weaker. I haven’t been paying close attention to the pass coverage by the linebackers, but now that you’ve drawn attention to it, I will. We’ll see how they do against Indiana senior tight end Ian Thomas, who is averaging 14.8 yards per reception (10.6 against tOSU) and has three TDs (2 against tOSU).
Yep the warts are there everybody has them, but I still believe this team is better than Indiana and will win after a few early scary moments. Put me down for Lions 41 Hoosiers 21. The pace at which Indiana runs their offense does scare me a bit; something like a play every 19 seconds, so fortunately I think the humidity and 90 degree temps we’ve been experiencing In PA the past couple weeks will be gone by Saturday and we’ll be able to handle the tempo.
Oh and I hope Franklin keeps Andrew Nelson on the bench. He looked like crap in the first half against Iowa at RT-just couldn’t maintain his blocks against that speed rushing Hawkeye DE.
The Nittany Turkey says
Boy, did he ever! Early in the game I saw #59 looking hopeless out there and wondered whether it was just rust or his reactions and technique are really that bad. I don’t recall him being that piss poor in 2016.
rewatched the game on youtube (go for the 40 minute version). On more than a few plays, 59 would get rushed, make contact with his assignment, then….stop moving. Almost like a practice drill.
The Nittany Turkey says
Drozz, that’s what I was seeing. Thanks for corroborating it so I know I wasn’t hallucinating. It almost looked at times like he didn’t want to be there.
And don’t forget the “Generations of Greatness” special uni’s and the White cleats for this game-Paterno has to be rolling over in his grave!!!!
The Nittany Turkey says
Oh, yeah, and Barkley can go out there and look like Matt Suhey…NOT!!!
The Nittany Turkey says
Kind of a sad state of affairs in the Big Ten when Nebraska is favored over lowly Illinois by only 5-1/2. How the mighty big red have fallen!