Indiana at (4) Penn State
Time: 2:30 PM (CT), Saturday
Spread: PSU -18
Odds c/o 5dimes
The Penn State Nittany Lions have been hot. PSU has begun its 2017 season 4-0 after defeating Iowa 21-19 last week in a nail-biter, and this week it will host conference foe Indiana as 18-point favorites in NCAA action at 2:30 PM (CT) on the Big Ten Network. The game has a high over/under of 63.5 points, mostly a reflection of how the Lions can really get it cooking offensively against an Indiana defense that scarcely stands a chance in the minds of oddsmakers at bettors alike.
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Last week against Iowa, the No. 4 ranked Nittany Lions edged out the Hawkeyes in the fourth quarter a game-ending drive that resulted in a 7-yard TD pass from Trace McSorley to Juwan Johnson. Its two-point conversion failed, but also did not matter, as the clock read 0:00 and PSU escaped with a a two-point victory. McSorley was busy. The quarterback threw 31 of 48 for 284 yards with a TD and one pick, and he got plenty of help from his monster running back Saquon Barkley. Barkley carried the ball 28 times for 211 yards and a TD, including a long-rush of 44-yards.
McSorley had his own success on rush attempts with 61 yards on 17 attempts. No other PSU players factored heavily into the rush attack, but the Nittany Lions had 295 rushing yards on the game and a 5.8 yard per attempt average. Barkley not only did it carrying the ball, but also led the Lions again in receiving yards with 94 on 12 catches. Juwan Johnson had another 92 yards receiving on seven catches, and he also scored the lone receiving TD.
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Iowa only had 272 total yards in the game, but its quarterback Nathan Stanley was efficient, and Iowa avoided turning the ball over while maintaining good field positioning, which was enough to overcome its offense being outdone yardage-wise by a count of 272 to 581. While Penn State certainly dominated, it showed everywhere but the scoreboard since the game was precariously close with those aforementioned factors considered. This week will be less likely to bring any sort of challenges of that magnitude, given that Indiana scarcely compares to the Hawkeyes on either end of the football.
Indiana is 2-1 on the season after having its Week 3 contest against Florida International cancelled. The Hoosiers predictably were destroyed 49-21 by Ohio State in Week 1, but it won its Week 2 matchup against Virginia and had no problem getting rid of Georgia Southern last week. Indiana has lost 35 straight games against AP Top-10 opponents, though, and this week is unlikely to see that streak end. It has the second-longest streak in college football of losses to top-10 opponents, and Penn State is certainly worth of its No. 4 overall billing.
Indiana uses a pair of quarterbacks, Richard Lagow and Peyton Ramsey, and Lagow sees the majority of snaps, but is arguably far less effective. Ramsey has a 67.7 percent completion ratio and a better yard-per-reception average, but has seen less than half the snaps and has thrown just 31 passes on the season. Lagow also boasts just four touchdowns to three interceptions, while Ramsey has a 3:0 ratio and a better passer rating (164.2 vs. 120.0).
As to whether the Hoosiers begin to give Ramsey more time on the field remains to be seen, but it really should. He is also decent at moving the ball on the ground with 64 rushing yards on the season, while Lagow rarely carries the ball. Top Indiana running back Morgan Ellison has been pretty solid with 257 yards on 44 carries (5.8 yards per) and a pair of TDs. The Hoosiers wide receiving core has seven TDs on the year and an 11.1 yard per catch average, as four Hoosiers have caught 100 yards or more on the season. Even so, these stats are inflated due to a very soft early-season schedule, and the Hoosiers will be happy to keep this within two-touchdowns in a game it is so heavily disadvantaged.