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Week 6 Preview: Indiana Hoosiers vs. Penn State Nittany Lions

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Who, Where, When: Coming off their first loss of the season, the Hoosiers travel to Happy Valley for a game against Penn State at high noon Saturday. ESPN2 will have the broadcast, with Beth Mowins and Anthony Becht on the call, and Paul Carcaterra on the sidelines. There's not a whole lot to say about the history between these teams, as IU's lone win came a couple years ago.

Numbers of Note: +9, Indiana's season turnover margin (11 takeaways). 79, the yardage covered by Zander Diamont's rushing touchdown against the Buckeyes last week, which became the longest run by an IU quarterback ever. 8, the number of passing touchdowns Nate Sudfeld needs to become Indiana's all-time leader. 20, the number of punts this game featured last year. Pray it doesn't happen again.

Penn State Analysis, courtesy of OTE's own Aaron Yorke: This Penn State season has been more of a roller coaster ride than the team's four straight victories would indicate. After an embarrassing opening loss to Temple (which doesn't seem so bad anymore now that the Owls are still undefeated), the Lions got their first win in a sloppy game against Buffalo that featured the surprisingly electric debut of freshman tailback Saquon Barkley. That led to Penn State finally asserting itself against an over-matched Rutgers team during the third weekend of the season. It looked like the offensive line was finally starting to gel, and then the next week Christian Hackenberg finally had a nice game with three touchdowns and 296 passing yards versus San Diego State. Everything came crashing down last week, though, when the Lions posted an uninspiring win over Army. The final score may have been in favor of Penn State, but James Franklin's team gained fewer yards than the Black Knights and needed to take advantage of multiple Army fumbles just to win by six points at home. Thanks to a defense that has held steady all season, Penn State has a good chance to defeat Indiana, but the Lions are banged up at tailback and will need to add more consistency to the passing game in order to keep up with the Hoosier attack.

Fun Facts and Notable Penn State Alumni: A not-totally comprehensive list of those can be found in last year's article.

Prediction: This game will be infinitely more watchable than last year's. That's not a hard bar to clear, but I believe this game will clear it. How Indiana performs in this game will come down to two things: 1) Can they move past the excitement and emotion of almost upsetting the #1 team in the country without feeling a letdown, and 2) Will Nate Sudfeld and Jordan Howard play the entire game? I have a lot of faith in the answer to 1 being "yes". Every indication from the team this week suggests that they will be entirely focused on Penn State at kickoff. I'm not sure we'll know the answer to 2 before the game itself, but if both are full go, Indiana is in very good shape. If you ask me which one I'd rather have for the full game, I think I have to go with Howard, as Devine Redding just doesn't have the raw power that Howard shows off consistently, whereas the offense can adjust to not having Sudfeld at quarterback for some of the game. Assuming full health for everyone, I think IU takes the game 31-24.

Next Week:

Prepare for Buttgers