Penn State confidently prepares for homecoming game against fellow Big Ten contender, Indiana

Penn State confidently prepares for homecoming game against fellow Big Ten contender, Indiana

It is the Saturday we have all been waiting for: the Penn State homecoming game. This year, Penn State (4-1, 1-0) will face off against Indiana (4-1, 0-1). The game will kick off at noon at Beaver Stadium, which will undoubtedly be filled to the brim with enthusiastic students and fans.

Indiana is currently fifth out of seven in the Big East (Penn State is fourth), having lost their only conference game thus far to football powerhouse, Ohio State. However, Indiana is not to be underestimated. Last week against Ohio State, Indiana nearly cinched one of its biggest upsets ever, but eventually fell to Ohio, 34-27, in the final seconds of the game. Any team that can keep up with Ohio State’s domineering plays is one that Penn State needs to keep an eye on.

Despite some strong numbers from Indiana, Penn State fans have reason to believe that the squad will come out on top this weekend. History errs on the favorable side for Penn State in this matchup. Of the 18 times the two have faced each other (they first met in 1993), Penn State has won 17 times, falling to Indiana only in 2013 with a 44-24 defeat in Hoosier territory. Likewise, this season’s home record of 4-0 is the best start at home for the Lions since 2008.

Key players such as senior defensive tackle Anthony Zettel (West Branch, Mich.) are ready to embrace whatever comes their way this weekend.

“I want to the Penn State Football family, this town, this community, my teammates, my coaches, my family back home, I have a lot to play for and it really makes playing hard every game a lot easier, so I have a lot of passion…for this school and this university.”

When asked about Indiana’s impressive offense, Zettel praised the talent of their running backs.

“I think offensive line is a more veteran group of guys that communicate well…both running backs have a lot to offer.”

Zettel went on to say that while Indiana has a fast offense with experienced players, Penn State defense brings a thoroughness and dedication to the table that is not found anywhere else. Currently, the Penn State defense leads the nation in number of sacks, and has myriad impressive defensive statistics in terms of sacks for loss and caused turnovers.

Head Coach James Franklin, who faced great amounts of negativity from the media after last week’s game against Army, has a positive outlook for homecoming. Franklin noted that there are some areas that the team needs to secure before the game on Saturday, tackling being one of them.

“We could improve our tackling. That’s an area that we need to do a better job of.”

However, ever-positive Franklin commended the defense, praising their ability to force turnovers in the last four games.

Offensively, Franklin preached the idea of trusting in one’s teammates and coaches.

“Just trust in our rules. We keep seeing stuff on Saturday that we don’t see on tape before, and our guys have to trust the rules and their footwork and fundamentals. We gotta improve on third down.”

Despite being a young team that has had 18 freshmen and redshirt freshmen take to the field already this season, there is no shortage of leadership in the Nittany Lions. This weekend fans can expect leadership from junior quarterback Christian Hackenberg (Palmyra, Va.), redshirt freshman running back Nick Scott (Fairfax, Va.), Anthony Zettel, and sophomore linebacker Jason Cabinda (Flemington, N.J.).

It is finally supposed to be a traditional football Saturday; a day devoid of rain and freezing temperatures. Get ready to roar louder than anyone has yet this season as the Nittany Lions look to secure their second conference win and create a homecoming that everyone is sure to remember.

Contributing Sources: