Photo by Joe Hermitt, PennLive
The Penn State Nittany Lions football team completed a perfect 5-0 homestand with a 29-7 rout of the Indiana Hoosiers on Saturday. The win took the Lions to 5-1 and 2-0 in B1G conference play.
It was easily Penn State’s most complete performance of the year, and it came against a Hooiser squad that took the #1 Buckeyes to the brink last weekend–although it needs to be mentioned that Indiana was playing without starting QB Nate Sudfeld on Saturday. Penn State wasn’t at full strength either however, as the Lions were missing RB’s Saquon Barkley and Akeel Lynch for the second straight week.
After a slow start to the game, Hackenberg hooked up with Brandon Polk midway through the first quarter for a 39-yard TD. The versatile Polk now has both a rushing and receiving score this season.
The Hoosiers were able to tie the game on their ensuing possession, as backup QB Zander Diamont scrambled in from 12 yards out to cap off an impressive 65-yard drive. Indiana appeared to gain even more momentum after recovering a surprise onside-kick, but the PSU defense came up with a huge 3-and-out, and Indiana never really threatened again for the rest of the game.
Hackenberg connected on another 39-yard TD pass in the second quarter, this time to DaeSean Hamilton.
Penn State’s defense completely dominated the second half. They notched another four sacks, including one by Garret Sickles that knocked Indiana QB Zander Diamont out of the game. The Lions’ 25 sacks on the season are tied with Oklahoma State for the most in college football.
The Hoosiers’ third string QB, Danny Cameron, didn’t fare any better, finishing the game just 6/16 with 65 yards and an interception.
Hackenberg was especially sharp in the second half, showing improved accuracy and pocket awareness on his way to a couple of rushing TD to put the game away. He finished the game 21/39 for 262 yards and four total touchdowns.
One of the few areas of concern for Penn State was the kicking game, as Joey Julius missed a pair of extra points and had a kickoff sail out of bounds. Hopefully this game was merely an aberration for the freshman kicker, as he had been sharp through the first five games this year.
Penn State now moves into the much more challenging portion of its schedule, with four of their remaining six games against ranked teams. They’ll have a very tough next Saturday as they head to Columbus for a night game at the Horseshoe against #1 Ohio State. Let’s just hope they can keep it close and avoid anything resembling their last appearance in Columbus. Kickoff is set for 8:00 p.m.