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Focus first: Lions cannot overlook Hoosiers

November 17, 2012
By Cory Giger ( , The Altoona Mirror

Five things to look for as Penn State plays Indiana in a game that doesn't seem to have many fans very excited.

No. 1: Don't overlook IU

Penn State plays Indiana today, just in case anyone needed a reminder.

It's been a week dominated by discussions about a blown call, conspiracy theories and Bill O'Brien's potential NFL future, and it appears few people have actually spent much time discussing the matchup against the Hoosiers.

Andy why should they? The line is 17 1/2 points, Indiana got humiliated its last time out in its biggest game in years (62-14 against Wisconsin) and the Hoosiers' defense can't stop anybody.

This should be a blowout.

Fact Box

PSU (6-4, 4-2 Big Ten)

vs. Indiana (4-6, 2-4)

Where: Beaver Stadium

Kickoff: Noon


Line: PSU by 17 1/2

But nothing in sports is guaranteed, and Penn State had better not take the Hoosiers lightly.

While they've probably been licking their wounds following last week's disappointing loss at Nebraska - and undoubtedly angry about the blown call that cost them a TD - the Nittany Lions have to refocus and avoid getting surprised by a seemingly overmatched opponent.

Indiana lost by three against Ohio State (52-49) and by four against Michigan State (31-27), so the Hoosiers are capable of playing competitively against good/decent competition. Now, they also lost to a Navy team (31-30) that PSU crushed, and they should be reeling from a confidence standpoint.

Still, Indiana needs a win today and one at Purdue next week to become bowl-eligible, so it does have a lot to play for.

No. 2: Run, baby, run

The Hoosiers gave up 564 yards rushing against Wisconsin, which sounds impossible. They're also allowing 244 yards per game on the ground.

O'Brien likes to throw the ball, but this is the kind of team PSU should be able to pummel on the ground. How's this for a stat: Zach Zwinak has 686 yards rushing and averages 86 per game, while the departed Silas Redd has only slightly more yards, 732, and averages less per game at 81.

Zwinak, coming off a career-high 141-yard effort at Nebraska, should be in line for another big day, and maybe we'll see the return of the forgotten running back, Bill Belton.

No. 3: Fast and loose

Indiana plays the fastest offense in the Big Ten, going no-huddle most of the time and running play after play in such a speedy fashion that it makes PSU's NASCAR offense look slow.

The Hoosiers don't have the kind of talent to line up against most teams toe-to-toe, so they have to be creative and try to catch teams off guard. They're going to throw it a ton - they average 43 attempts and 293 yards per game - so Penn State's defense must be ready.

Safety Malcolm Willis is questionable with a knee injury, and defensive tackle Jordan Hill also has one but should play. The key for PSU's defense will be to attack quarterback Cameron Coffman with a lot of pressure, disrupt his timing and stop the no-huddle offense before it gets into gear.

SUBHD: No. 4: Different atmosphere

The students are on Thanksgiving break, and despite O'Brien urging them to stick around for the game, that's probably not going to happen. It's also a late-season game against a bad team, and PSU already has four losses.

The announced crowd might be in the 90,000 range, but it will be a surprise if 80,000 actually show up. That's another reason to wonder if the Lions will be as fired up as usual.

SUBHD: No. 5: Player to watch

Cornerbacks Stephon Morris and Adrian Amos should have a bunch of opportunities to make plays against Indiana's passing attack. The Hoosiers might throw it 50 times, putting pressure on the secondary but also giving the defensive backs a lot of chances to break up plays and maybe pick off some passes.

This also will be a good opportunity for defensive coordinator Ted Roof to let his cornerbacks play man-to-man coverage and gamble with more blitzes.

Prediction: Penn State 37, Indiana 20

Follow Cory Giger's live game updates on Twitter @CoryGiger.

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