UNIVERSITY PARK, Penn. – Penn State saw its unbeaten run come to an end last weekend in a nail-biter at Minnesota, but the 11th-ranked Nittany Lions still control their own destiny in the Big Ten East division entering a matchup with visiting Indiana on Saturday. Sean Clifford threw an interception in the end zone in the waning moments, sealing Penn State's 31-26 loss to the undefeated Golden Gophers.
TV: Noon ET, ABC. LINE: Penn State -14.5
However, a win over the 25th-ranked Hoosiers would send the Nittany Lions to Ohio State the following weekend with a chance to seize the division lead with an upset of the Buckeyes. "We're 8-1. We're one of the best teams in the country," Penn State coach James Franklin told reporters. "You know, probably doesn't feel that way around here right now, but we dealt with it. We handled it. ... Although we need the time to prepare, Saturday can't come soon enough." The Hoosiers sit a game behind the Lions in the division and thrust themselves into the national rankings after a fourth straight victory last Saturday against Northwestern. Freshman quarterback Michael Penix Jr. was injured in the 34-3 win and will miss the rest of the season, handing the offense over to junior Peyton Ramsey, the starter in 2018.
ABOUT INDIANA (7-2, 4-2 Big Ten)
Ramsey has started three games this year and appeared in seven overall, and he has a sense that there’s something special with this current group of Hoosiers. “As much as I want to say ‘No, it doesn’t feel different,’ it just does,” Ramsey said in an interview on SiriusXM on Tuesday. “We’re playing good football. … Going into a hostile environment to play a really good team, I think it’s something that has all of us excited. I think it’s something that’s different in a good way.” Ramsey threw for a career-high 351 yards while filling in for Penix at Nebraska on Oct. 26 and was 26-of-36 for 236 yards and a touchdown in a 33-28 loss to Penn State at home last year.
ABOUT PENN STATE (8-1, 5-1)
Clifford’s three interceptions last week doubled his season total, but Franklin does not expect the sophomore to go into any kind of a slump. “I just have a lot of confidence in how Sean is wired,” Franklin told the media. “He is going to be driven by this. He was already driven, but he’s going to be driven by this even more.” Clifford leads the Big Ten in passing yards (2,271) with sophomore wide receiver KJ Hamler (739 yards, eight TDs) and sophomore tight end Pat Freiermuth (392, seven) remaining the primary targets.
1. Penn State fell five spots to ninth in this week's College Football Playoff rankings.
2. Hoosiers RB Stevie Scott III is fourth in the Big Ten in rushing yards (737) and fifth in rushing TDs (nine).
3. Indiana's only win in 22 meetings came in 2013.
PREDICTION: Penn State 34, Indiana 20