Penn State football vs. Indiana Preview

penn state football

Seven weeks later than scheduled, but Penn State and the rest of Big Ten football is back and will kick off their 2020 season this Saturday. With the change of schedule due to COVID-19, Penn State will be traveling to Bloomington, Indiana for its season opener. Indiana is on the rise and should not be overlooked by anyone in the conference… except maybe Ohio State.

Although Penn State has taken the last six games against the Hoosiers, three of them have been decided by a touchdown or less, including the last two. Indiana has been knocking on the door to take down James Franklin’s team for a while now, and they have a chance to do just that this week. Here are some things to watch in the season opener.


Last November when Indiana came into Beaver Stadium, it was a back and forth battle. It was tight the entire game and it stayed that way until late when Sean Clifford and the offense were able to put together an 18-play, nine-minute touchdown drive to cap off a win in Week 12. Controlling the tempo and dominating the time of possession are huge and I would love to see more of that from the start to avoid getting themselves in any sort of hole early.

The offense is more than capable of doing that given the combination of a great offensive line and running back group. This should apply for every game this year, but in Week 1 especially… run the football. The offensive line is one of the strongest groups on this Penn State team and should be able to control the line of scrimmage. Even with Journey Brown out with an undisclosed medical condition, the backfield is still loaded with talent and poised to produce with Noah Cain and Devyn Ford leading the way.

If a run game is established, the passing game opens up and Clifford’s life becomes that much easier. Spread the ball around to all of the running backs and then ride the hot hand. I think you see No. 87 dominate early and often because that is just simply what Pat Freiermuth does. I expect him and Jahan Dotson to be the No. 1 and 2 options for Clifford. We also get to see the debuts from some freshmen who are ready to get their shot.

I’m all in on the Parker Washington train. Get your popcorn ready. We’re going to get a lot of points on Saturday.


The defense is going to be legit again this year, but I fear a slow start in the first game of the season. It needs to generate its own momentum without fans in the stands by creating turnovers and getting the ball back to the offense. Indiana’s starting quarterback from a year ago transferred to Northwestern this past offseason, so it’s now up to Michael Penix Jr. to take over the Hoosiers offense. The redshirt sophomore showed promising signs when he got the chance to play last year, but if the defense can get pressure and not let Penix get comfortable, Penn State should escape any kind of upset alert.

Stevie Scott is a returning running back that is just 18 yards shy of passing 2,000 career rushing yards. The linebackers and defensive line have their hands full, but I’m confident in guys like Brandon Smith and Jayson Oweh to step up to the challenge. There’s a lot of experience in this unit, and it’ll show once they get rolling. Like last year, I anticipate a close game with Penn State pulling away at the end. Although Indiana does concern me a little bit, there’s no doubt Penn State is the better team and should take care of business on the road. Indiana is a basketball school. Roll Lions.

Date: Oct. 24
Time: 3:30 p.m. EST
Broadcast: FS1
Spread: Penn State -6
Over/Under: 60

Prediction: Penn State 38 - Indiana 24

Hot takes: Noah Cain and Brandon Smith lead the offense and defense respectively with the top players in each of their position groups out. Cain rushes for 100 yards and two touchdowns. Smith leads the team with 10 tackles.