No. 4 Penn State survived - barely - its first serious test of the season and now returns home hoping to clean up a few items and remain unbeaten when it hosts Indiana on Saturday. The Nittany Lions needed Trace McSorley’s last-second touchdown pass to get by Iowa 21-19 on the road last weekend, a dramatic triumph that overshadowed some sloppiness that allowed Iowa to stick around.
Penn State committed two turnovers and eight penalties, finished 6-for-18 on third downs and had just one TD in its first four trips to the red zone before the game-winning dart to Juwan Johnson. “We’ve just got to be a little bit better,” coach James Franklin told reporters. “We’ve got to be a little bit sharper. We’ve got to sustain blocks a little bit longer. That was probably the difference on Saturday.” Even with some issues, the Nittany Lions still gained nearly 600 yards and had a 29-11 advantage in first downs while star running back Saquon Barkley (305 total yards) had perhaps the best game of his great career. Barkley was on a similar roll last year before the matchup with Indiana, which held him to 58 yards on 33 carries and hopes to have similar success as it seeks a third straight win.
TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network. LINE: Penn State -17.5
ABOUT INDIANA (2-1, 0-1 Big Ten): The Hoosiers have scored 86 points over their last two games - wins over Virginia and Georgia Southern - and boast playmakers at several positions. Morgan Ellison earned Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors after piling up 186 rushing yards and two scores in last week’s win over the Eagles, while receiver J-Shun Harris II took a punt back 70 yards for a TD en route to winning Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week for the second time this year. Since throwing the ball 65 times for 410 yards in a season-opening loss to Ohio State, senior Richard Lagow has shared snaps with Peyton Ramsey and is just 11-for-23 for 154 yards during the two wins.
ABOUT PENN STATE (4-0, 1-0): McSorley paces Big Ten passers in yards (1,037) and completions (82) while sitting tied for second with 10 TD passes. Barkley has team highs of 23 catches and 335 receiving yards to go along with his 518 on the ground - second in the conference - which presents Franklin with some tough decisions as he manages the junior’s workload. “It’s funny because early in the season, I was getting grief because he didn’t touch the ball enough,” Franklin told reporters. “And now he touches it 43 times. So I want to balance that, as well.”
1. Penn State owns a 19-1 series advantage, including a 9-0 mark at Beaver Stadium.
2. The Nittany Lions lead the Big Ten in yards per carry (6.4), while the Hoosiers ranks 13th (3.6).
3. Penn State K Tyler Davis has made only one of his five field-goal attempts from 30 yards or longer.
PREDICTION: Penn State 42, Indiana 20