Penn State Vs Indiana: Getting Back On The Horse

Penn State Vs Indiana: Getting Back On The Horse

Penn State Vs Indiana College Football Betting Preview

Okay, we have to talk about it. This is going to be a sizeable recap because identifying the issues is step 1 in getting them resolved.

I’ll admit, I was just as surprised as everyone else was with last week’s result. Penn State had advantages in the Minnesota game on paper. Unfortunately, games aren’t played on paper and the Nittany Lions got hit hard early and never could get in a position to play their game comfortably.

It’s a game script we’ve seen all too often in college football, but there were many, myself included, who thought the Nittany Lions were/are balanced enough to adapt to a negative game script and still be able to mount a comeback. The offense was only part of the problem as the defense was torn to shreds by the deceitfully strong route running of Rashod Bateman (7 receptions for 203 yards). A lot of little things went wrong for Penn State in this game, but Penn State still had a good chance late to win.

This week, Penn State are 14.5 favorites with a total set for 54.5, according to BetRivers PA. Can Penn State overcome the spread?

A look back at last week’s tough loss

On the opening drive interception, Justin Shorter failed to adjust to the ball, resulting in an interception. Sean Clifford was partially to blame because Shorter had inside position, with no defensive help over the top, and he left the ball too far outside. The adjustment by Shorter was worse though, as he let an undersized defender play the ball, while he failed to stop and box out the defender.

On the first Minnesota touchdown, the Penn State safety failed to play the ball on the Tanner Morgan pass off the read option. He ran to the receiver but never looked up for the ball, despite having the angle to make the interception. Later, Morgan had way too much time to throw on the deep cross to Bateman on the following drive after the Journey Brown touchdown run. Penn State had to get pressure early if they had any hope. Any quarterback can shred a defense with ample time and Tanner Morgan had all day to throw on a few occasions.

Shortly after the deep cross, Penn State showed some terrible tackling on the screen pass touchdown from Tanner Morgan off the RPO. Not long after that, a badly underthrown ball by Clifford resulted in his second interception. After the linebacker bowled over Ricky Slade, who barely blocked him, it forced Clifford to rush the throw to Hamler to the inside, allowing the safety to close in and make the pick, uncontested.

Morgan then connected with Tyler Johnson for a 38 yard touchdown on a contested go route. It was a great one-handed grap from Johnson on tight coverage. The throw was an absolute dime, which was surprising, given the unimpressive tape we’ve seen on Morgan this season.

The second half play was more of what I expected the entire game. The forced fumble and recovery midway through the third quarter was a momentum shift for Penn State. The fumble recovery at midfield set up a nice drive, capped with a short touchdown over the vacated middle of the field. Ricky Slade tried to take the bubble screen outside instead of going inside and was tackled well short of the end zone as the two-point conversion failed.

Rashad Bateman just abused the Penn State defense on the ensuing drive and capped it with a deep reception to set up a one-yard rushing touchdown. In the end, Penn State had a chance to snatch a win, but Clifford’s pass was thrown into tight coverage and the Gophers held on for the upset.

In retrospect, Sean Clifford was able to buy time in the pocket and make some critical throws all game. Journey Brown found a few big rushing lanes and took advantage. He looked like the best back today for Penn State. The Penn State ultimately did well stopping the Minnesota rushing attack, but the critical errors on offense were just too much to overcome. Going forward, the Nittany Lions have to stay disciplined on defense and not underestimate their opponent. Tanner Morgan only attempted 20 passes in the game and he completed 18 of them for over 339 yards. That’s unacceptable. Like I said earlier, you can’t give any quarterback a lot of time to throw or they’ll tear you apart.

Previewing Penn State vs Indiana

Indiana runs a similar RPO offense to Minnesota. They are an extremely run heavy offense with a very talented back, Stevie Scott III. Scott is averaging 4.97 yards per carry and also serves as a dangerous pass catching threat. Overall, Indiana profiles as a lesser version of Minnesota. That’s not a knock. Defensively, the Hoosiers have just 20 sacks on the year and their rush defense isn’t very strong, so there’s reason to believe the Nittany Lions can attack them successfully in a variety of ways.

Contain Stevie Scott III and Whop Philyor

At 6’2 and 230 lbs, Stevie Scott is a force that can level defenders with a little head of steam. He found the end zone three times last week, once through the air. He profiles like Latavius Murray of the Saints and at this level, he’s a very productive back. Ohio State managed to contain him and for me, stacking the box and run blitzing to attack the RPO is the play here to slow this offense.

Indiana uses two quarterbacks similarly, though seemingly more from injury relief than anything. Both are certainly capable as passers, but Penix is the likely candidate to get the work in this game. Whop Philyor is a KJ Hamler-like, quick-twitched and undersized receiver. He can accelerate quickly and though he isn’t as explosive as Hamler, Philyor is a target monster who tends to take a lot of shallow crosses and bubble screens and make something big out of them. Penn State needs to keep a close eye on him at the line and try to jam him and make him uncomfortable early and often.

Run the ball and setup play action

Balance has been key to this Penn State team in 2019. Every game seems to have a new rushing leader. This time around, Penn State needs to stick to their versatile rushing attack, even if they get behind early (which I doubt will happen, but still). Indiana isn’t great on rush defense and their pass rush is nothing to really be concerned about. If Penn State can force Indiana to commit defenders to the box, it will make their passing attack much more accessible in play action.

Last week, Penn State seemed all too eager to play catchup as quickly as they could and abandoned a rushing attack that was actually quite effective. If they can be patient, this game can be a comfortable victory.

Prediction: Penn State 31 Indiana 13