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Tuesday, May 28
The Indiana Daily Student

sports football

The Other Sideline: Before Indiana football plays Saturday, meet No. 4 Penn State

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The Other Sideline is a weekly segment where the Indiana Daily Student interviews a student reporter from Indiana football’s weekend opponent. The questions and answers have been edited for clarity and brevity.

Last season, Indiana football beat then-No. 8 Penn State in overtime on then-sophomore quarterback Michael Penix Jr.’s two-point conversion dive. 

This year, Penn State is 4-0, moving ahead of Iowa to rank No. 4. The Nittany Lions are the highest ranked Big Ten team and the highest ranked team the Hoosiers have faced this year.

Ahead of the game, the Indiana Daily Student talked to Max Ralph, the football editor at the Daily Collegian, to preview the matchup.

IDS: What has the team said about the matchup against Indiana this week?

Ralph: After the game last week, one of the first things head coach James Franklin said was he’s been big on how many available tickets there are left in Beaver Stadium for the upcoming game. However many he said — I think it was around 4,000 — he said we need this place rocking.

Of course, James Franklin, as most coaches are, is all about the 1-0 thing. I think Penn State understands that regardless of which team is more talented there's a big storyline behind this one, especially after last year. They want to show out and they want the fans to show out this weekend.

IDS: Is there revenge on the minds of Penn State players? How are they looking at this game in context of last year?

Ralph: I’d be shocked if revenge is not in the back of their minds. I assume the first thing we’re going to hear all week is, “We’re just trying to go 1-0.” 

As you get into game preparation and start watching film from last year, most of Penn State’s team is returning. There’s no doubt in my mind that that game stung for them.

It’s going to be a high priority to take back what they lost, because a lot of people thought that game should have been theirs. 

IDS: Indiana has underperformed expectations this year, but Penn State is the third top 10 team it has faced. What is your opinion of the team?

Ralph: I’ve been a big Tom Allen fan for a while now. I love the way he coaches his guys, and I think Indiana is a program that’s becoming one you want to be at.

There’s definitely still some untapped potential for the team. I watched a little bit of the University of Cincinnati game — the defensive unit looked really good and shut down Cincinnati quarterback Desmond Ridder and everything. 

There’s still more to see from this Indiana team, and Penn State is going to be a tough matchup to unlock it. 

IDS: What does Indiana have to do to beat Penn State this weekend?

Ralph: Make them run the ball. They looked great against Ball State University, they looked average against Auburn University and they looked horrible against Wisconsin. 

That’s the key for me. Indiana has to make Penn State run the ball because senior quarterback Sean Clifford is revitalized right now. He’s playing the best football of his life and he looks confident in the pocket. 

IDS: With the “Stripe Out” this weekend, what can Indiana expect at Beaver Stadium?

Ralph: It will be rocking. I’d expect this game to have a pretty good turnout — they’re going to go well over 107,000 fans. This is the first “Stripe Out” they’ve done in a while so fans are going to be excited for it. 

Everyone knows how passionate Penn Staters are about football, but that game last year, that picture of Penix at the pylon has been circulating on Penn State Twitter for days now, even before the Villanova game started. 

From a fan perspective, they’re just as hungry as the team is. As great as the environment was at the White Out, you might see it nearly duplicated this weekend.

IDS: One more thing — what’s your score prediction?

Ralph: I think Indiana’s defensive unit is strong, but I also think Penn State’s offense has shown it’s also very good. I’ll go Penn State 31, Indiana 17.

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