Since Penn State joined the Big Ten in 1993, Indiana has been the whipping post of the conference for the Nittany Lions, compiling a 16-0 all-time record against the Hoosiers. That all changed today.
For the first time in program history, the Hoosiers defeated Penn State – and they did it handily, 44-24.
Using a strong balance of run and pass, the Hoosiers fast-paced offense picked apart the overmatched Nittany Lion defense en route to 488 yards of total offense. The much-maligned Hoosier defense, which gave up an average of 247 rushing yards per game coming into the contest, limited the PSU ground attack to just 69 net yards.
Both sides were sluggish early and the Hoosiers entered halftime with a 13-7 lead. Penn State responded early in the third quarter with an Allen Robinson (12 catches, 173 yards, 2 TDs) touchdown catch, giving Penn State a brief 14-13 lead.
That’s when the flood gates opened.
The Hoosiers responded 50 seconds later with a Tevin Coleman 45-yard touchdown run in which the speedster went untouched to retake a 21-14 lead. After a PSU field goal made it 21-17 late in the third quarter, the Hoosiers scored 21 unanswered points in less than five minutes, putting the game out of reach, 42-17.
Hoosier quarterback Nate Sudfeld showed great pocket-presence as he picked apart the young Penn State secondary for 321 yards on 23-of-38 passes. Junior Cody Latimer was wide open all game long, racking up 140 yards on nine catches.
Christian Hackenberg, Penn State’s heralded freshman quarterback, quite frankly, looked like a freshman. Hackenberg was forcing balls left and right, and coach Bill O’Brien’s pass-happy play calling certainly didn’t help matters for the Nittany Lions. It’s hard to justify throwing the ball 55 times against an Indiana defense that gave up 444 yards on the ground to Navy two weeks ago.
After last year’s unexpected 8-4 triumph amidst the NCAA sanctions, Penn State looked prime for a similar 2013 campaign. Now it looks like the scholarship reductions imposed from the sanctions may be catching up to Bill O’Brien’s squad.
The defense is full of holes. Beyond Robinson, the offense has a serious lack of playmakers and dozens of unproven underclassmen are seeing playing time on both sides of the ball. After early losses to Central Florida and now Indiana, this year could be a step back for O’Brien’s team.
Indiana thoroughly outplayed the Nittany Lions in all facets of the game and for a program looking to dig its way out of its longtime position in the Big Ten cellar, this is a huge win. Kevin Wilson outcoached the more-heralded O’Brien and his team dominated both sides of the ball, especially in the second half. The Hoosier defense took big steps forward today and with back-to-back road matchups with Michigan State and Michigan on the horizon, they’ll need to build off today’s inspired effort.