NCAA Football Weekly Picks: Indiana Hoosiers at (9) Penn State Nittany Lions

Indiana at (9) Penn State

Time: 10:30 AM CST, Sat.

Spread: PSU -14

Odds c/o 5dimes

The No. 9 ranked Penn State Nittany Lions are 8-1 on the season, with its lone loss having come last week as it fell 26-31 to the No. 17 ranked Minnesota Gophers. PSU will travel to Indiana this week to face a much-improved Hoosiers team. The Nittany Lions register as 14-point favorites in NCAA football odds at bookmaker 5dimes, and the game will air at 11 AM (CST) Saturday on ABC and ABC affiliates.

PSU

Penn State has got it done on both ends of the football this year, but especially on the defensive end where it holds opponents to just 12 points per game. It is no slouch itself offensively, either, generating 37.1 points per game to give it a +25.1 point differential. With a pass offense ranking No. 40 and a rush ranking No. 55, it does not do anything exceptionally well offensively. But it is a very good and balanced team that is a major threat moving forward. While last week’s loss firmly removes it from BCS playoff contention, overall, the team has been good this season and cannot take that one loss and miss of the playoffs as the sign of any sort of failure, really.

PSU starting quarterback Sean Clifford has been high-volume and very good: He has made 259 throws already this season at a 60.6 percent clip with 21 TDs and just six INTs. His passer rating of 156.4 is solid. Clifford is also a good rush threat: He averages 3.7 yards-per-carry with three touchdowns on his 87 rush attempts (which lead the team). No. 1 and No. 2 running backs Journey Brown and Noah Cain have 65 and 68 attempts, respectively, and both have been consistently good with 6.5 and 5.1 yards-per-carry averages.

KJ Hamler is the top receiver with 44 catches for 739 yards and eight touchdowns. The No. 2 option is tight end Pat Freiermuth who has 32 receptions for 382 yards and seven touchdowns. No. 4 receiver is also a tight end in Nick Bowers, who thought he has just eight catches, ranks No. 4 in yardage with 190 while adding two more touchdowns to his credit. The Nittany Lions have 21 rushing touchdowns and 22 passing: As stated, this is a very balanced and successful offense.

IND

The Indiana Hoosiers have been one of the biggest turnaround stories for a program in 2019. At 7-2 the Hoosiers are far better than expected, including its 4-2 mark in Big Ten play, where it is typically a doormat for the rest of the vaunted teams in the conference.

The Hoosiers get it done with a top passing offense that ranks No. 15 in the nation at 308 yards per game. It generates just 138.4 via the rush, yet it generates 34 points per game while holding its opponents to just 20. Indiana has won four-straight in Big Ten play, including wins over Maryland and Nebraska.

Quarterback Michael Penix Jr. has been sensational though he has not thrown a ton. He has completed 110 of 160 (68.8 percent) for 1,394 yards, 10 touchdowns, and just four picks. He has also rushed 22 times for 119 yards (5.4 yards per). Lead rusher Stevie Scott III has 737 yards on 148 carries with nine of the team’s 16 rushing touchdowns. The wide receivers have done major work, with six players topping 200 receiving yards on the year. The best of these is Whop Philyor— he has a team-best 59 receptions for 813 yards, though he has just three touchdowns.

Tight end Peyton Hendershot serves as a big red zone target, leading the team with four touchdowns on his 29 catches for 393 yards (both ranking 2nd on the team).

Indiana kicker Logan Justus has been phenomenal this year. He is 34 of 35 on PATs, and a perfect 12 of 12 on his field goals, though he has taken just three from beyond the 40-yard line.

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