2011 Penn State Football

 
Big Ten football fans

Penn State @ Indiana Football Preview

 

For now, it’s not about style points for a proud college football program. Penn State just wants to open its Big Ten season with a win, avoid further injuries, and let the chips fall where they may.

The Nittany Lions and the Indiana Hoosiers kick off the Big Ten schedule on Saturday afternoon in Bloomington. The Kevin Wilson era at Indiana is off to a disappointing start. The Hoosiers finished the nonconference schedule 1-3 after losing at lowly North Texas last Saturday night. IU lost to Ball State in Indianapolis to start the season, then dropped a heartbreaker at home against Virginia before posting its first win of the season against FCS South Carolina State. Last Saturday in Denton, Texas, Indiana fell behind 24-0 to the University of North Texas before mounting a comeback that ultimately fell short in a 24-21 loss. The Hoosiers allowed 427 yards to the Mean Green, who won their first game under new head coach Dan McCarney.

Penn State merchandise Backup quarterback Dusty Kiel led IU’s comeback attempt last week, but Edward Wright-Baker is nonetheless expected to start on Saturday against the Nittany Lions. The Hoosiers’ offense is fairly banged up: Top receivers Damarlo Belcher, Duwyce Wilson, and Kofi Hughes are all battling minor injuries.

As for Penn State, the Nittany Lions finished their nonconference schedule with a 3-1 record, losing only to powerful Alabama. Last week, the Lions demolished visiting Eastern Michigan 34-6. The Lions’ two-quarterback rotation continued last week, a development that – on one hand – is discouraging for a program that needs to find one guy and stick with him for the duration of the season. Then again, the use of two players was probably the product of playing an inferior opponent. Head coach Joe Paterno, up against a Mid-American Conference team that offered comparatively little resistance, wisely treated the Eastern Michigan game as an exhibition contest before the true regular season known as Big Ten football began. JoePa and his staff wanted to get one last look at both of his signal callers so that they know what they’re working with over the next two months of backyard battles against familiar foes.

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Rob Bolden started the Eastern Michigan game for the Blue and White, but Matt McGloin stood out, throwing three touchdown passes and completing an impressive 14-of-17 attempts for 220 yards. Bolden completed seven of 13 passes for 115 yards, most of which came on a 71-yard screen pass to Devon Smith.

Penn State’s defense forced three turnovers and held the powerful Eastern Michigan rushing attack to just 68 yards. The Nittany Lions did lose two of their best and most reliable playmakers on defense, linebacker Michael Mauti and cornerback D’Anton Lynn, against EMU. Mauti is out for the season, but Lynn – in news that emerged over the past few days – did not suffer as severe an injury as many in the program first feared. Lynn will not play against Indiana, but he should return soon afterward. If Penn State can muddle through this game and grab a win, no matter how ugly, the Nittany Lions can build toward bigger clashes that loom on the not-too-distant horizon.

By Matt Zemek
DFN Sports Senior Staff Writer

 

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