The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

College

October 5, 2013

Indiana eyes first-ever win over Penn State

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Indiana heard about The Streak all week.

Yes, the Hoosiers have lost all 16 times they’ve played Penn State, and yes, this might be their best chance to end it. That’s just not the focal point this weekend, winning is.

“Whether we’ve won in the past doesn’t matter,” coach Kevin Wilson said. “This team has not played this team, so we’ve talked a lot more about where we are.”

Today marks the end of a five-game opening home stand that was supposed to set up the Hoosiers (2-2) for a bowl trip, but things haven’t gone according to plan.

Defensively, the Hoosiers expected improvement. Instead, they are ranked among the nation’s worst in points allowed per game (32.8) and yards rushing per game (247.8), deficiencies that proved costly against Navy and Missouri – and could cost them again this weekend when the Nittany Lions (3-1) visit in the teams’ Big 10 opener.

The early losses mean Indiana must win four conference games for the first time since 2001 just to become bowl eligible. And the quest begins a foe that is still trying to prove itself, too.

Penn State rebounded from its first loss with a shutout against last season’s Mid-American Conference runner-up Kent State, then got a boost during last week’s bye when the NCAA reduced the scholarship penalties from the Jerry Sandusky scandal. Like the Hoosiers, they’ve had two weeks to get ready for Big Ten play.

Don’t expect big changes, though. The Nittany Lions still rely on defense and still like to run the ball, two things that could extend Indiana’s winless streak in the series.

“I believe in certain things offensively. I believe in running the football, I believe in having diverse ways to run the football,” coach Bill O’Brien said, providing a potential blueprint for what the Nittany Lions may do this weekend. “I believe in throwing the ball accurately, I believe in smart players, tough players, I believe in team players.”

But the Hoosiers have other plans.

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