PENN STATE: One Day and Counting

Even the most loyal of Hoosier backers would have a hard time finding a way to think Saturday's match-up against No. 8 Penn State will be close. HoosierNation.com concludes its day-by-day preview of this weekend's contest with its prediction for the IU-Penn State contest…

Bloomington – Indiana's football team will be boarding the plane today for its road trip to Penn State, but the tarmac probably seems a little bit like a plank.

The injury-riddled, under-achieving Hoosiers (3-7/1-5) face their most formidable challenge of the season on Saturday when they take on No. 8 Penn State (9-1/5-1). A week ago it appeared Coach Bill Lynch's team would be matched up against a team with a realistic shot at playing for the national championship. But after the Lion's 24-23 loss at Iowa last weekend, they'll instead face a Joe Paterno-coached team that is likely looking to take out some frustration on its next foe.

That next foe is an Indiana team that will limp into the contest with battered bodies and a bruised psyche. The Hoosiers enter the game as a 34-point underdog according to oddsmakers, but the Hoosier players don't sound ready to concede defeat to the Big Ten co-leaders.

"Penn State is a great team, but it's a chance for us to end our season on a good note and bate one of the top teams in the country and show how good we're capable of playing," said sophomore linebacker Tyler Replogle, who will start for Will Patterson at outside linebacker.

Lynch is taking the same approach about the road trip, as improbable as an upset win might seem to most.

"(A win) would be a tremendous boost for our team," Lynch said. "They've been through some tough times but they've kept battling and kept fighting. (A win) is what we have in mind. We know it's a great college football environment with the energy and intensity in a stadium like that. We'll go and enjoy that part and play we well as we can play."

The problem is that Indiana's play hasn't been good enough in seven of its last eight games. Offensively, the Hoosiers rank 10th in Big Ten games in scoring (16.5 points/game) and they're giving up a league-worst 38.7 points per game against conference foes. Indiana's defense has given up 42 or more points in four out of six Big Ten games, including 55 last week to Wisconsin. Penn State, meanwhile, leads the Big Ten pack in scoring in conference games (31.3) and is second in scoring defense (14.0).

As if those numbers weren't daunting enough, IU is still winless against Penn State since they joined the Big Ten, and they'll be playing in front of nearly 110,000 people this weekend – or approximately four times as many as were on hand for last weekend's home game against Wisconsin.

It's simply impossible to come up with any sort of scenario where Indiana manages to keep this game close. Expect to see Penn State jump out early and eventually call off the dogs in the second half.

HoosierNation.com Prediction: Penn State 58, Indiana 17

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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