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Friday, May 24
The Indiana Daily Student

sports football

Indiana football prepares for national spotlight, first ABC Saturday Night Football game

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Indiana football has toppled streak after streak the last few seasons. 

In 2020, the team was ranked in the top 10 for the first time since 1969. It beat Michigan for the first time since 1987, won its first game over a top-10 team at home since 1967 and played in consecutive January bowl games for the first time in school history.

In this Saturday’s game against No. 4 Penn State, another streak will fall for Indiana football — the Hoosiers will play on ABC’s Saturday Night Football for the first time.

Since ABC began the program in 2006, every team in the Big Ten, Pac-12 Conference, Big XII Conference and Atlantic Coast Conference has played in the network’s primetime slot, except for Indiana. Saturday night at Beaver Stadium in State College, Pennsylvania, the Hoosiers will make their first appearance in ABC’s 7:30 p.m. slot. 

ESPN play-by-play announcer Sean McDonough, who will be broadcasting the game on ABC, said the Hoosiers’ first appearance on the program is a well-deserved one.

“It's a statement that Indiana has taken a major step forward as a program here in the last year or two,” McDonough said. “Even though this season hasn't gone as they would have hoped until now, there's still an appreciation that this is a really good and talented football team.”

Despite starting the season 2-2 with losses to No. 5 Iowa and No. 7 University of Cincinnati, McDonough believes Indiana can turn its season around with a win against a top-five ranked Penn State team on the national stage.

“They played two teams that are in the top 10 right now, and here comes another one,” McDonough said. “I do think they have a chance to change the narrative that maybe it hasn't been as good of a season as they had hoped or expected if they can go to State College and win the game.”

Penn State is a heavy favorite at home against Indiana in a series they have historically dominated. The Nittany Lions are 22-2 all time against the Hoosiers.

Indiana’s second win in the series came last season, when then-sophomore quarterback Michael Penix Jr. scored a two-point conversion in overtime and cemented unranked Indiana’s 36-35 upset over then-No. 8 Penn State. Last year’s controversial finish added to the Nittany Lions’ motivation and to the game’s national spotlight.

“We’re focused on this Indiana,” Penn State senior linebacker Jesse Luketa said in a press conference on Wednesday. “We moved on from everything from last season, and it is what it was. We went into the offseason with a chip on our shoulder, and we’re excited for this year and this Indiana.”

The national spotlight will be on Indiana football this week, playing in ABC’s primetime slot for the first time in team history and taking on a Penn State team they defeated in dramatic fashion a season ago. With the eyes of the college football world on the Hoosiers this week, head coach Tom Allen and his team are excited for the opportunity.

“You want to be able to put your players in a position to be able to have opportunities like this when you talk to them in recruiting,” Allen said. “To be able to come to Indiana and have a chance to compete against the best teams in the country in the national spotlight.” 

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