BY PAUL ASPAN
PENN ST. INSIDER
Those were the words of Penn State center A.Q. Shipley in the Philadelphia Inquirer following the Lions’ 38-7 win over No. 19 Wisconsin. Shipley might be onto something considering the Nittany Lions have won their last two games by a combined margin of 62-14. Penn State is clicking on both sides of the ball, and they’ve been doing so in the midst of a storm of off-field issues.
Rodney Kinlaw has filled in smoothly at tailback for suspended starter Austin Scott. The red-shirt senior has rushed for more than 100 yards in each of the past two games. Quarterback Anthony Morelli followed-up a solid performance against Iowa (233 yards, TD) with a 200-plus yard outing against the Badgers. Perhaps most importantly, the offense did not turn the ball over.
If Penn State is reaching its peak, it’s perfect timing with a road game against Indiana (5-2) this weekend before No. 1 Ohio State comes to Happy Valley. However, the Lions have to be wary of looking past the Hoosiers.
Saturday’s matchup with Indiana is a classic look-ahead game. Penn State is going on the road against a Hoosier team it should beat. The top team in the country is coming to town in two weeks – a game that has been circled since camp - and the off-field issues that surfaced last week aren’t just going to disappear. Joe Paterno’s message before last week’s game was, “don’t let the bastards get you down.” The Lions responded and took out any and all aggravation on the Badgers. Can they stay focused and have a similar performance against the Hoosiers?
Shipley and the rest of Penn State’s offensive line will be the key to Saturday’s game. Morelli has played well the last two weeks largely because he’s been sacked only three times. However, the Hoosier defense leads the nation in sacks (more than 4.5/game) and if Morelli can’t get comfortable, it’ll be a long day for the Lions.
Look for Penn State to establish the run early. If Shipley and his mates can open some holes, Kinlaw should have another good performance as the Hoosiers allow more than 150 yards per game on the ground.
Penn State has not won on the road this year and with Indiana coming off a 52-27 drubbing in East Lansing, the Hoosiers will be looking to come out strong at home. The Lions defense shouldn’t struggle against an unspectacular Indiana offense. However, as the story has been all season, if the PSU offense gets off to a slow start, this game will be closer than it should be.
Photo Credit: Collegiate Images
Saturday, October 20, 2007
Posted by College Football Insiders at 9:17 AM