Indiana Breakdown

Check out the good, the bad and the ugly from Penn State's shootout win over the Hoosiers in Bloomington Saturday.

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — A glorious day for football ended gloriously for Penn State. The Nittany Lions (6-2, 3-2) outlasted Indiana (5-3, 2-3), 36-31, amid the rustling leaves, cloudless blue skies and autumnal splendor of the Hoosier State. Here are the highlights.

MAN OF THE HOUR: Maurice Evans was a one-man wrecking crew. The Lions could have used an 11-man wrecking crew against Indiana's potent offense, but Evans' remarkable outing was enough to turn the tide. He forced two Kellen Lewis fumbles, one of which he returned 55 yards, and made six tackles including 4.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks. Without him, the Lions would most likely have lost.

CLOSE SECOND: Indiana's James Hardy was dazzling, finishing with 14 catches for 142 yards. Penn State corner Justin King had his hands full and them some with Hardy.

TURNING POINT: Evans crashed into Lewis and picked up the resulting fumble, rumbling 55 yards before being dragged down. His recovery stopped Indiana on what could have been a go-ahead drive late in the third quarter and set up a field goal that put the Lions up by nine.

SOLID STRATEGY: Penn State made great use of swing passes and screens, repeatedly throwing in front of Indiana's defensive backs and putting its receivers — Jordan Norwood in particular — in position to make yards after the catch.

NUMBERS GAME: The Lions had one of their best offensive showings of the season but only outgained Indiana by 1 yard. They finished with 387 yards, while the Hoosiers had 386.

BUSINESS AS USUAL: Ball security remains a problem. Evan Royster fell victim to Indiana's strip-happy defense, losing the ball in a scrum to set up a third-quarter Hoosiers field goal.

SPECIAL DELIVERY: Marcus Thigpen, who is reputed to have 4.27-second 40-yard speed, looked awfully quick on a 53-yard kickoff return in the third quarter.


• The season-ending injuries? On Saturday, two more Penn State players went down for the year. Defensive tackle Jared Odrick suffered a broken right ankle, while fullback Matt Hahn tore his right ACL. Those injuries would hurt under any circumstances, but they'll be felt even more acutely with No. 1 Ohio State up next.

• Penn State's decision to kick a PAT rather than go for two while trailing by two points in the second quarter?

• The Nittany Lions being charged with a timeout with four seconds left in the first half and both teams eager to hit the locker rooms? Joe Paterno clearly didn't want it, and, well, we can't blame him.

HIT SQUAD: The Lions clobbered Lewis on consecutive plays in the second quarter. First, Evans him from the blind side, then Chris Baker slammed into him to force a hurried incompletion. Runner-up honors go to Indiana's Ryan Marando, who put Anthony Morelli flat on his back with a third-quarter sack.

TOUGH GUY: Lewis took a beating — Evans and Sean Lee teamed up to drop him for a spectacular 12-yard loss just before halftime — but kept coming back for more.

LOST IN THE SHUFFLE: Jeremy Boone delivered one of the game's biggest plays when he punted 68 yards in the fourth quarter, forcing the Hoosiers to start their final drive from their own 5-yard line. Boone had the wind at his back and got a fortunate roll, but it was still one monster boot.

YOUTH MOVEMENT: True freshman Stefen Wisniewski made his first career start, filling in for the injured Mike Lucian (concussion) at right guard. He was later replaced by senior John Shaw. The other true freshmen on the trip were defensive back Drew Astorino, linebacker Chris Colasanti and running back Stephfon Green. Of those three, only Colasanti played (on special teams).


• That Penn State's initial scoring drive was its longest of the season, covering 90 yards in 13 plays?

• That scouts from the Capital One were in attendance working the press-box crowd hard?


• Will Indiana ever beat Penn State? The Hoosiers remain the only Big Ten team without a victory over the Nittany Lions, having slipped to 0-11 all-time with this latest loss.

• Why is Indiana expanding its stadium when its largest crowd this season is 11,000 short of the current capacity?

• Is Hardy the Big Ten's most underrated player? The 6-foot-7 receiver extended his scoring streak to nine games and tied a school record with his 30th career touchdown reception. And he's still got a year to go, if he doesn't get a better offer (which he very well might).

• Are the Lions ready for top-ranked Ohio State? Penn State fans in Bloomington seemed to think so. Perched above the team's tunnel, they chanted, “We want the Buckeyes” as players filed out of Memorial Stadium. They're going to get their wish. Beyond that, nothing is assured.


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