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Indiana Hoosiers vs. Penn State Nittany Lions Preview and Prediction

Nate Sudfeld

Nate Sudfeld

The Indiana Hoosiers are coming off a wildly entertaining game against defending national champion Ohio State, and it should have caught the attention of Penn State. The Hoosiers pushed the Buckeyes nearly to the limit last week but now must regroup on the road this week in front of a homecoming crowd for an early kickoff.

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Penn State's offense has struggled to find itself with Christian Hackenberg going through some ups and downs and the running game already banged up. The defense has been a bit more consistent, but if the Hoosiers can duplicate what they did a week ago, Penn State could be in for another tough battle.

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Indiana at Penn State

Kickoff: 12 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: ESPNU

Spread: Penn State -8

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Three Things to Watch

1. Body blow game for Hoosiers?

Indiana gave Ohio State a good run last week in Bloomington from start to finish, although the Hoosiers lost some steam with injuries to key players. Now, a week later and on the road, will Indiana have enough left in the tank to go out and come away with a win against Penn State?

Indiana head coach Kevin Wilson has said quarterback Nate Sudfeld and running back Jordan Howard have been dressed in practice this week, but it remains unknown how much of a role either may have on Saturday against the Nittany Lions. Both starters were injured in the game against Ohio State and sat out the second half against the Buckeyes. Indiana may need both to be available to get out of Happy Valley with a win against a decent Penn State defense.

2. Penn State defense is forcing turnovers

Penn State forced three turnovers last weekend against Army. It was the third straight game the team had forced three turnovers in a game, and the offense has started to take advantage of those extra opportunities. Penn State has scored points off four of the last five turnovers by the opponent, including three touchdowns (one scored on a fumble return by the defense). Indiana cannot afford to give Penn State those opportunities this week. If Indiana handles the football, that puts even more pressure on a Penn State offense lacking in creativity and consistency and could have its own banged up running game to work with if Saquon Barkley is not available.

3. Hoosiers are winners against the spread too

When the opening line was released for this weekend's game, it was a tad confusing given what Indiana showed against Ohio State and what Penn State's offense has done this season. It should also be noted Indiana has been playing it close to the vest when it comes to beating the spread experts in Las Vegas. Indiana is 4-1 against the spread this season, while Penn State has been just 2-3. 

Final Analysis

Penn State has developed a knack for winning some ugly games this season, and it has gotten them to a 4-1 start. Look for yet another ugly game. If Indiana has a healthy Nate Sudfeld and Jordan Howard, the Hoosiers can pick up their second win against the Nittany Lions in three years. If neither player is available, Penn State should once again find a way to win an ugly game.

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Prediction: Penn State 23, Indiana 17

— Written by Kevin McGuire, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Football Foundation. McGuire also writes for CollegeFootballTalk.com and hosts the No 2-Minute Warning Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @KevinOnCFB.