When last season’s College Football Playoff rankings rolled out for the first time, Penn State was nowhere to be found.
But that’s not the case this year.
Penn State was ranked 15th by the CFP selection committee, and it will look to show that it’s worthy of that ranking when it meets Indiana on Saturday in Bloomington, Ind.
In order to do that, PSU is going to have to get back to its winning ways.
After winning five straight games to open the season, the Nittany Lions (6-2, 3-2 Big Ten) have lost two of their last three following a 44-31 setback against Ohio State last Saturday.
Penn State trailed just 16-14 after three quarters, but the Buckeyes broke out for 28 points in the fourth. Nittany Lions quarterback Sean Clifford completed 32 of 47 passes for 371 yards and three touchdowns, but was intercepted three times. Receiver Parker Washington was also impressive, hauling in 11 receptions for 179 yards and a score.
Clifford has thrown for 1,816 yards and 16 TDs this season. However, the recent losses to conference opponents have made Penn State coach James Franklin consider mixing things up under center, and he could opt to start true freshman Drew Allar at quarterback against Indiana (3-5, 1-4).
“For us, we’re gonna look at who gives us the best chance to be 1-0 this week and go from there. And whoever that is based on this week’s practice and preparation, we’ll go with,” Franklin said. “That’s really kind of how it’s been all year long.”
Allar has only appeared in six games, throwing for 209 yards and two touchdowns on 18-for-31 passing.
The Hoosiers certainly wouldn’t be opposed to facing a quarterback with less experience, though, as they’re in serious need of a spark after falling 24-17 at Rutgers on Oct. 22 to drop their fifth consecutive game.
Indiana captured an early 14-0 lead, but gave up 24 unanswered points before Charles Campbell kicked a 39-yard field goal with 1:18 left in the fourth to pull within seven. Connor Bazelak completed 24 of 42 passes for 210 yards and an interception while adding a rushing touchdown.
Leading receiver Cam Camper (46 receptions, 569 yards, two TDs) tore his ACL in the first half of the meeting with the Scarlet Knights and will miss the rest of the season, making matters worse for the Hoosiers.
If there is any positive heading into Saturday, it’s that Indiana should be well rested after regrouping during its bye week.
“The thing I focused on was rehab, reps and rest. You had guys in different categories,” Hoosiers coach Tom Allen said. “Some guys needed to rehab injuries. Some guys needed to just flat-out rest, didn’t practice them at all, some of our older guys that got a lot of snaps.
“A lot of guys got a lot of good reps. Did a younger guys scrimmage on Wednesday. Some live reps, had some fun with that. …A chance to be able to do some positive things.”
Penn State has dominated the all-time series, winning 23 of the 25 meetings between the teams. Indiana last won on Oct. 24, 2020, upsetting the then-No. 8 Nittany Lions in Bloomington.
–Field Level Media