PENN STATE: Five Days and Counting

An angry top-10 foe is about the last thing Indiana's banged up football team needs on its schedule, but that's the assignment this weekend as IU squares off with Penn State. kicks off its day-by-day preview of this weekend's match-up with "Five Numbers to Note" about the contest…

31 – rushing touchdowns for the Nittany Lions this season, which ranks fourth nationally behind Oregon (35), TCU (33) and Oklahoma State (32). That's not good news for an Indiana run defense that gave up seven rushing touchdowns in Saturday's 55-20 loss to Wisconsin and has surrendered 25 rushing touchdowns this season. Tailback Evan Royster lead Penn State in rushing touchdowns (11) and rushing yards (106.0/game), but quarterback Daryll Clark has also scored eight times on the ground. The Nittany Lions have had at least four rushing touchdowns in four games this season and had a season-high seven in season-opening 66-10 win over Coastal Carolina.

11 - consecutive losses for Indiana against Penn State since it joined the Big Ten Conference. Despite that ugly track record, five of the games have been decided by seven points or less, including the last two meetings. Penn State overcame a 14-catch, 142-yard day by James Hardy a year ago to win 36-31 in Bloomington, and the Lions also won 22-18 in 2004 when IU failed to convert four consecutive attempts from the PSU one-yard line in the fourth quarter. While that's reason for optimism for IU fans, there are plenty of reasons for pessimism as well. Indiana has given up an average of 41.6 points per game in its five trips to Happy Valley, including 52 in its last road game against Joe Paterno's squad in 2003.

8 - categories that Penn State ranks in the top 10 nationally. Among 119 Bowl Subdivision teams, Penn State ranks No. 9 in scoring offense (39.9), No. 9 in rushing defense (99.3), No. 5 in pass efficiency defense (98.25), No. 6 in total defense (266.5), No. 5 in scoring defense (12.4), No. 5 in kickoff returns (26.9), No. 10 in pass defense (167.2) and No. 5 in sacks allowed (0.8). The 9-1 Nittany Lions have been a team without any real weaknesses. Their lowest ranking is No. 53 in passing offense (221.0 yards/game), but that's only because they rely on a rushing offense that ranks No. 12 nationally (221.7).

26 - games missed this season by players who started the season opener against Western Kentucky. While every team deals with injuries to some extent, Indiana appears to have been particularly hard hit. Season-opening starters who have missed games since include Chris Phillips (7 games missed), Austin Thomas (5), Nick Polk (3), Kellen Lewis (3), Rodger Saffold (2), Deonte Mack (2), Andrew Means (1), Ray Fisher (1), Cody Faulkner (1) and Alex Perry (1). Injuries figure to still be a big problem against Penn State, since linebacker Will Patterson and quarterback Ben Chappell would appear to be questionable at best to play after going down against Wisconsin.

-95 – Indiana's scoring deficit in the second halves of games this season. The Hoosiers have been outscored by only three in the first halves of games (184-181), but they've been blitzed 163-68 in the second halves of games. The fourth quarter has been particularly troublesome, as Indiana has scored only 10 fourth-quarter points all year – a touchdown against Western Kentucky in the season opener and an Austin Starr field goal in the 55-13 loss at Illinois. The second-half problems were never more apparent than last weekend, when Wisconsin outscored IU 31-0 after intermission.

What's coming up:
On Monday – Five Numbers to Note
On Tuesday Four Names to Know
On Wednesday – Three Key Match-Ups
On Thursday – Two Big Concerns
On Friday – One Bold Prediction

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