Indiana vs. Penn State Betting Odds & Pick: Hoosiers Hope to Play Home Spoilers to Nittany Lions (Saturday, Oct. 24)
John Bunch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Sean Clifford and the Penn State Nittany Lions.
Indiana vs. Penn State Betting Odds
|Indiana Odds||+6.5 [BET NOW]|
|Penn State Odds||-6.5 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||+175/-250 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||62 [BET NOW]|
|Time||3:30 p.m. ET|
The Big Ten finally returns this weekend, and we get a matchup of two teams with high internal expectations as Penn State travels to Indiana on Saturday. Penn State is coming off a 2019 season where it finished 11-2 with a Cotton Bowl victory, while Indiana is coming off an 8-5 finish.
Indiana lost quarterback Peyton Ramsey to a transfer, but replacing him is Michael Penix Jr., who actually performed better than Ramsey in some metrics a season ago. The Nittany Lions have lost star receiver KJ Hamler to the NFL Draft, as well as a projected top-10 pick in linebacker Micah Parsons, who opted out of the season. More bad news came this week as projected starting running back Journey Brown may be lost for the season due to an injury.
Looking at team talent ratings, Penn State does have a significant advantage. The Nittany Lions rank 13th in the 247Sports team talent composite rankings, while Indiana ranks all the way down at 53rd.
Does Penn State have the talent to replace so many key departures?
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In 2019, Indiana’s offense was able to successfully move the ball down the field, but definitely lacked in the explosiveness department. The Hoosiers ranked 27th in success rate and 10th in havoc allowed, but ranked 118th in explosive drive rate.
The passing game was efficient, but Indiana really struggled to run the ball. This could be a major problem versus a Penn State defense that ranked first in the nation in yards per carry allowed last season. The Hoosiers finished 2019 ranked 98th in line yards, 110th in stuff rate, and 98th in yards per carry.
Additionally, it only returns two starting offensive linemen. The offense as a whole ranked 42nd in EPA (expected points added), 56th in yards per play, and 67th in finishing drives (points per trip past the opponent 40-yard line).
The offense was definitely the strength of the Indiana team in 2019. Defensively, the team struggled in many areas. The unit as a whole ranked 90th in EPA.
Remember how Indiana ranked 118th in explosive drive rate on offense? Well, the defense ranked 119th in explosive drives allowed. The unit also ranked 69th in success rate, 60th in yards per pass attempt, 61st in finishing drives, and 93rd in havoc.
Penn State Nittany Lions
Penn State’s strength last season was the defense, but the offense impressed in some areas as well. Quarterback Sean Clifford ranked 19th in adjusted yards per attempt last season, as well as 28 total touchdowns and only seven interceptions in his first year as the starter.
Although it does lose talented receiver KJ Hamler, Penn State does return four out of five starters on the offensive line. The other projected starter was a rotational guard last season, so there is plenty of experience on that unit. The Nittany Lions ranked 24th in both touchdown rate and explosive drive rate a season ago. Penn State also has a new offensive coordinator, as Kirk Ciarrocca comes over after leading a 2019 Minnesota offense that ranked sixth in EPA.
Additionally, the offense has one of the best weapons in the nation in tight end Pat Freiermuth, who is getting plenty of first-round buzz for the upcoming NFL Draft. Penn State was also able to finish drives very effectively last season, ranking 10th in that metric. Ciarrocca was the coordinator for a Minnesota offense that also excelled in that category, ranking 17th.
Penn State fielded one of the best defenses in the country in 2019, and there is plenty of reason for optimism for that unit in 2020. The Nittany Lions ranked 13th in EPA on that side of the ball, despite facing a schedule that included two matchups with Ohio State. Penn State’s defense also ranked ninth in touchdown rate, fourth in explosive drive rate, and 14th in finishing drives.
The front seven excelled in particular, ranking ninth in line yards, 10th in stuff rate, 25th in sack rate, and led the nation in yards per carry allowed. One player who could explode this season is Jayson Oweh. According to The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman, the 6-5, 257 pound edge defender ran a 4.33 40-yard dash and vertical jumped 36 inches this offseason. (Just as a reference to how mind-blowing that is, that reported time of 4.33 is faster than TY Hilton and DeSean Jackson.)
He and teammate Shaka Toney both return with at least five sacks apiece last season, and could cause a lot of problems for a mediocre Indiana offensive line.
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Betting Analysis & Pick
Although Indiana went 5-4 in conference play last season, none of those five wins came against bowl-eligible teams. I like Penn State here, and project their margin of victory at over 9.
The Nittany Lions should have a significant edge in the trenches against a mediocre Indiana offensive line that only returns two starters, and the overall talent gap in this game is massive.
I like Indiana’s season-long outlook, but there are several areas where it just does not match up well here versus a very talented Penn State team. I would play this at anything under 7, which should not be hard for you to find.
Pick: Penn State -6