BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Indiana and Penn State both figure to be upset about how the two teams have played of late.
Penn State has blown leads in home losses to Ohio State (27-26) Sept. 29 and Michigan State (21-17) Saturday. The Hoosiers have lost three of their last four games, including an embarrassing 42-16 loss to visiting Iowa Saturday.
“There’s no doubt, getting hit upside the head with a two-by-four doesn’t feel very good, but I promise you it will get your attention,” IU coach Tom Allen said. “This is one of those kinds of situations.”
Allen said the same is likely true for the No. 18 Nittany Lions. IU (4-3, 1-3 Big Ten) will host Penn State (4-2, 1-2) at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.
“It’s a very talented football team that has high hopes and expectations for the season,” Allen said. “They’re going to be coming to Bloomington, be very hungry, ready to play and get their season back on track.”
Penn State coach James Franklin said the Nittany Lions must learn from the loss to Michigan State without dwelling on it.
“The biggest thing for all of us, coaches and players, is sticking to the process and focusing on things that we can control,” Franklin said. “Focusing on our schemes, making sure we are being as detailed as we possibly can in meetings, making sure we are holding people accountable to that standard every single day in practice and that old guys are helping the young guys mature as much as they possible can to understand the seriousness and significance of that standard. The biggest thing we have to do is make sure we are sticking together, we’re staying positive and getting those things fixed and get better at them. Because obviously last week we did not do that.”
Allen said Penn State’s loss doesn’t affect his view of its strength.
“They’re a very talented football team,” Allen said. “Got a lot of weapons. It’s the best offensive line they’ve had. They’ve said that pretty clearly. Very experienced quarterback (Trace McSorley) that we know full well how good he is (from last two seasons).”
McSorley has thrown more than 300 yards in victories over the Hoosiers the past two seasons.
McSorley has completed 54.1 percent of his passes for 1,241 yards, 11 touchdowns and two interceptions.
Junior Miles Sanders leads the Nittany Lions with 700 yards on 104 carries.
“The running back (Sanders) is special,” Allen said. “Sometimes I think it’s the same guy.”
Allen was referring to New York Giants rookie and former Penn State star Saquon Barkley.
“He’s his own guy, for sure, but he’s a special talent,” Allen said. “He was the No. 1 running back in the country coming out of high school. That’s kind of what they’re able to do. That’s a tribute to how they’ve recruited, the guys they’ve got and developed. Very, very talented football players.”
Franklin has his concerns about the Hoosiers offense.
“Indiana always plays well at home, if you look at what they’ve been able to do the last couple of years at home, either getting big wins or playing people tough,” Franklin said. “Obviously, their quarterback (Peyton Ramsey) is playing at a much higher level now. He’s getting a lot of people involved in the running game. The freshman running back (Stevie Scott) has been a pleasant surprise. They have a veteran offensive coordinator in (Mike) DeBord, who has been doing it (coordinating) for 18 years, I think (at different schools). He’s seen everything. That experience counts.”
Franklin is impressed with Ramsey’s 68 percent passing accuracy. However, Allen was disappointed with his two interceptions against Iowa. Ramsey has thrown for 12 TDs and seven interceptions overall.
“He has to protect the football,” Allen said. “It’s part of his job.”
Franklin said defensively his team played well enough to win against Michigan State.
“(The Spartans) had four fumbles without losing any,” Franklin said. “We get a few more of those turnovers, the game is completely different from the way it played out. That’s the area we have to get better is the turnovers. We got to get more turnovers and when we have opportunities to make plays, we all realize we have to make more of them.”
In the three conference games, the Nittany Lions are tops in rushing offense with 266 yards per game. In contrast, IU has struggled with his run game in league games with 85.8 yards per game,13th of 14th teams.