Indiana Week Gameday Central
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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions kick off a two-game homestand to cap off the 2012 season at noon on Saturday (BTN) with clash against Leaders Division foe Indiana.
Penn State is finishing the season with two-straight home games for just the third time in its 20 seasons of Big Ten play. The Lions are coming off a hard-fought 32-23 setback at Nebraska last week. Against the Huskers, sophomore wide out Allen Robinson tied O.J. McDuffie (1992) and Bobby Engram (1995) for the single season reception record (63). Robinson, who leads the Big Ten in receptions, yardage, yards per game and touchdowns, will own the record with one reception on Saturday.
Indiana enters the matchup having won two of its last three games. The Hoosiers had their two-game winning streak snapped last week in a 62-14 setback to Wisconsin in Bloomington. Indiana needs two victories in the final two weeks to become bowl eligible.
Welcome to the gameday preview for the 11th contest on the 2012 schedule.
What to Watch For - Penn State
1. Sophomore Zach Zwinak enters the Indiana game with four 100-plus yard rushing performances in his last six games. That list includes a career-best 141 yards in last Saturday's game at Nebraska. Zwinak leads the Nittany Lions in rushing with 686 yards (5.0 yards per carry). The Lions will likely use a heavy dose of Zwinak, Michael Zordich and Bill Belton against an Indiana defense that yielded 564 rushing yards and seven rushing touchdowns last week against Wisconsin. Zwinak ranks sixth in Big Ten games with 98.3 yards per game. Keep an eye on the Nittany Lion offensive line as it blocks Indiana's interior tackles. The unit's run blocking has improved with each passing week.
2. Three costly turnovers hindered the Nittany Lions at Nebraska last week, including two inside the red zone. Penn State is looking to play mistake-free football against the Hoosiers. The Lions had a very crisp week of practice. That needs to translate over into an efficient offensive performance. On the defensive side of the ball, the Nittany Lions have not scored a defensive touchdown yet in 2012. Michael Mauti came close at Illinois and several other players have put their hands on balls that could have resulted in six points, but came up just short. Needless to say, the defense is long overdue for a big play.
3. The Nittany Lions did not dwell on last Saturday's game in Lincoln at all this week. The team turned the page on Monday afternoon when the squad met with Coach O'Brien to begin Indiana preparations. Nonetheless, the team is motivated to respond with a complete performance on Saturday. With only two games left for the incredible senior class, the Nittany Lions will be focused on Saturday. Execution, especially when big play opportunities are presented to the Lions, is essential as Penn State looks for its seventh win in 2012.
What to Watch For - Indiana
1. Penn State has played its fair share of teams that like to operate at a quick tempo, but the scouting report of Indiana indicates that the Hoosier offense plays quicker than anyone else on the schedule. The Indiana attack likes to run between 90 and 100 offensive plays every week. In order to do so, the Hoosiers must find a way to pick up first downs on a consistent basis. Sophomore quarterback Cameron Coffman leads the Indiana offensive unit. Coffman has thrown for 1,932 yards, 12 touchdowns and six interceptions in eight starts this season. Sophomore Shane Wynn leads Indiana with 51 receptions, but fellow sophomore Cody Latimore paces the Hoosiers with 707 receiving yards (44 receptions).
2. On the defensive side of the ball, Indiana's ability to make plays in the backfield is essential against the Nittany Lions. Forcing Matt McGloin out of the pocket is the gameplan for the Indiana front four led by senior defensive tackles Larry Black Jr. and Adam Replogle. The Hoosiers lead the Big Ten in tackles for loss (7.3 per game) and rank third in the Big Ten in sacks (24). Black and Replogle each have 9.0 TFL and 4.0 sacks in 2012. In addition to pass rush and clogging the interior running lanes, Indiana must do a good job of getting off the field on third down. The Hoosiers are 11th in the Big Ten in third down conversion rate (41.4 percent).
3. Penn State has out-scored opponents 83-6 in the first quarter this year. Indiana has out-scored opponents 82-79 in the first quarter this year. Coming off the loss to Wisconsin, the Hoosiers need a quick start against a very stingy first-half Penn State defense. Establishing, and then sustaining, a quick tempo rests on the shoulders of Indiana's ability to pick up first downs and keep the Nittany Lion defense off balance.
TV: BTN - Kevin Kugler (PBP), Chris Martin (Analyst), J Leman (Sideline)
Radio: Penn State Sports Network - Steve Jones (PBP), Jack Ham (Analyst), Loren Crispell (Sidelines)
Stadium: Beaver Stadium (106,572) - Natural Grass
Coaches: Bill O'Brien - 6-4, 1st season
Kevin Wilson - 5-17 at Indiana, 2nd season at Indiana (Same overall)
The Series: 16th meeting
The Final Word:
The Nittany Lions only look at one game at a time, but it's hard to not think about the 2012 senior class only having eight more quarters of football in Beaver Stadium. With that being said, there will be a sense of urgency for the Lions to finish the season off in a positive manner. On the other sideline, Indiana needs two victories to remain alive for a bowl appearance. Both teams have a lot to play for on Saturday, but the game will come down to Indiana's ability to defend the run and Penn State's ability to slow down the Hoosier offense's tempo. Keep an eye on Matt McGloin, who is closing in on several passing records. The Lion senior is 328 yards shy of becoming the single season leader, three touchdown passes away from becoming the career leader and six completions away from becoming the season leader. The weather forecast is calling for superb November football conditions with sunny skies and temperatures in the mid 40s.
Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony
Indiana Gameday Preview - Lions Begin Two-Game Homestand
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