Penn State vs. Indiana: 3 Nittany Lions to Watch Against the Hoosiers

By Barry Leonard on November 14, 2019 at 8:30 am
Oct 19, 2019; University Park, PA, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions cornerback Tariq Castro-Fields (5) pursues Michigan Wolverines wide receiver Nico Collins (4) during the second quarter at Beaver Stadium.
Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time this season, Penn State has to rebound from a loss. It was a poor performance at Minnesota last week, and the Nittany Lions will certainly hope for a better showing this week.

While the game is back in the friendly confines of Beaver Stadium, beating Indiana won't be an easy task. The Hoosiers are 7-2 and will be Penn State's fourth ranked opponent in the past five games (according to the AP Poll).

With the poor performance against the Gophers last week, several Nittany Lions need to bounce back this week. Expect some big games on both sides of the ball this week against the Hoosiers. 

Quarterback Sean Clifford

Clifford threw from 240 yards a week ago and completed some incredibly difficult passes, but made some poor decisions as well, and thanks to some early inaccuracies, completed just over 50-percent of his passes.

Call it shrinking in a big moment, or simply just succumbing to the pressure of a huge Big Ten road game in November, but Clifford wasn't at his best for the full 60 minutes in Minneapolis. He was hardly the reason the team lost, but he missed a few opportunities for big plays.

He'll be looking for redemption against Indiana this week as the Nittany Lions head back home for yet another ranked opponent. The Penn State offense runs through Clifford, and if he can take another step forward, the Nittany Lions should have no issues knocking off the Hoosiers. 

Cornerback Tariq Castro-Fields

The Penn State secondary was shredded by Minnesota last week to the tune of 339 passing yards and three touchdowns. Indiana enters the contest ranked 15th in the nation with an average of 308 passing yards per game. If Penn State doesn't make some adjustments, it could be another long afternoon for the secondary. 

Starting quarterback Michael Penix Jr. is out with an injury, but backup quarterback Peyton Ramsey is a former starter and played well against the Nittany Lions in Indiana last year. 

Indiana will enter the game looking to exploit Penn State's secondary much like Minnesota did. Castro-Fields has been the target of opposing quarterbacks all year long as they've generally avoided throwing at John Reid too much. TCF shoudl expect more of the same on Saturday.

Running Back Journey Brown

The running back by committee approach seemed to end last week at Minnesota when Journey Brown received 14 carries–11 more than any other running back. He finished with 124 yards and two touchdowns and was one of the lone bright spots for the Nittany Lions against the Golden Gophers.

Despite Noah Cain being listed first on the depth chart among running backs again this week, it should once again be Brown seeing the majority of the work this week. Cain was listed first last week and didn't receive a carry due to being banged up from an injury suffered in the game against Michigan State.

Brown is blessed with speed and athleticism and has turned into a major weapon for the Nittany Lions. The offense was able to fire on all cylinders a weekend ago when both the running game and the passing game were humming along. With Cain likely to be limited, if available, look for Brown to carry the load once again.

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