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Indiana

vs.

Penn State

College Football

Free Pick

9/30/17

With its eyes set on another Big Ten title, Penn State almost slipped up last week in Iowa. While the Nittany Lions survived with a last-second touchdown, it was the first game they looked vulnerable in and that kind of play could lead to a loss down the road. But that probably won’t come this week with Penn State a -17 point home favorite against Indiana as seen at 5Dimes Sportsbook.

Penn State needed a come back the last time these teams played with Indiana leading late in the fourth quarter. But one touchdown followed by a couple IU turnovers led to a misleading 45-31 score. The Hoosiers moved the ball just fine on this defense led by quarterback Richard Lagow and they’ll try to do the same in this one. However, Indiana was arguably a much worse team on the road last year as they failed to win any conference game away from home and that could come into play here. On the other side of that, the only team to have beaten the Hoosiers by more than 17 points in the last two years was Ohio State with the 14-point Penn State loss being next in line.

To cover and keep this game close, everything will be on the Indiana offense. That should be more than possible with Lagow, who already had a 410-yard passing performance against Ohio State in the opener. Even when Lagow struggled against Virginia, freshman Peyton Ramsey came in and ran the offense just fine, giving the Hoosiers another threat due to his legs. The combination of Lagow and Ramsey could prove troublesome for defenses this year and that includes Penn State, which hasn’t faced an above average offense yet. Expect the Hoosiers to try and get their ground game going early with Morgan Ellison and if that doesn’t work, Ramsey would give them another dimension.

The other side of the field may be the more interesting aspect to this game. In last year’s meeting, IU surprisingly held Saquon Barkley to 58 yards and the entire PSU team to 1.7 yards per carry. Not known as a great defense, it was an impressive performance for the Hoosiers even if McSorley still threw for 332 yards.

Repeating that game will be tough for Indiana because Barkley is simply running over everyone he sees. Already with 518 yards on 7.8 yards per carry, Barkley had no issues running for 211 yards against what was thought to be a good Iowa rush defense last week. Throw in 12 receptions and Barkley quietly stepped in as the Heisman favorite this week. If that happens again, McSorley may not even be needed, although he still attempted 48 passes against the Hawkeyes.

There are still a few unknowns about this Hoosiers team with their only relevant game coming in the opener against Ohio State when they won the first half and got dominated in the second. They have the offensive tools to keep this game close, but it may depend on the defense to keep Barkley in check again. If they do that, this could be another result that’s too close for comfort for Penn State. Indiana +18.5

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