HEADLINE

No. 9 Penn State look to bounce back vs. Indiana

Field Level Media

November 13, 2019 at 12:53 am.

Penn State will attempt to do something Saturday it hasn’t had to do all season — rebound from a loss.

The No. 9 Nittany Lions (8-1, 5-1 Big Ten) suffered their first setback last weekend in a dramatic 31-26 loss at undefeated Minnesota.

In an unlikely matchup of ranked teams, they look to bounce back against the Indiana Hoosiers (7-2, 4-2) at Beaver Stadium in State College, Pa.

While the Nittany Lions had a late chance to win — Golden Gophers walk-on Jordan Howden intercepted Sean Clifford in the end zone with 61 seconds left — there are plenty of reasons why they dropped to 1-7 on the road against ranked teams during coach James Franklin’s tenure.

For starters, Clifford, who tossed three interceptions through eight games, matched those three in Minneapolis, including two in the first half that helped Minnesota build a 24-13 lead.

The sophomore finished with 340 yards on 23-of-43 passing with a touchdown, but his turnover while driving for the potential winning score ended any hopes of his squad remaining unbeaten.

Defensively, Penn State couldn’t stop quarterback Tanner Morgan, whose quick strikes off RPO reads nullified any pass rush. Minnesota set the tone in front of sellout crowd of 51,883 by scoring on four of its first five series in the first half.

The Nittany Lions, who opened this week as a 14-point favorite, have won five straight against Indiana and 21 of 22 overall.

In Tuesday’s press conference, Franklin said his team could use their first loss as “fuel.”

“Everything can be used as fuel. When you win, the confidence is fuel. When you have setbacks, the adversity can be used as fuel,” the sixth-year Nittany Lions coach said.

True freshman Noah Cain (ankle) is expected back after not playing last week, though Journey Brown rushed for 124 yards and two scores in his place.

While perfect starts by Penn State, Ohio State and Minnesota dominated the conference through the first two-plus months of the season, Indiana has quietly had a resurgent 2019.

However, the team’s optimism after its best start since 1993 and being ranked for the first time in 25 years was tempered some last week when freshman quarterback Michael Penix Jr. was lost for the season following sternoclavicular surgery.

Penix passed for 1,394 yards with 10 touchdowns and four interceptions in six games, and he added two rushing scores. He was replaced by Peyton Ramsey, who has played in seven games and started three.

While the Hoosiers boast the No. 34 defense in the country, their offense will take center stage, especially considering Penn State’s defense yielded 461 yards to Minnesota — 339 passing.

The Hoosiers have scored at least 31 points in every game but one this season. Their two defeats were in September at home against Ohio State (51-10) and two weeks later at Michigan State (40-31).

Indiana has soared into the polls with four straight wins, surprising almost everyone — except coach Tom Allen.

“I told our team during fall camp that we were a top-25 football team. I believed it,” Allen said. “I said we got to go prove it, but that’s what I believed this football team was going to do.”