When the Penn State Nittany Lions head to Indiana for Saturday’s matchup, the ground game could be in for a huge day against the Hoosiers. So far this season, Penn State is averaging 197 yards a game on the ground. The Hoosiers are last in the Big Ten at defending the run and give up 247.8 yards a game. The Nittany Lions are coming off a game in which they rushed for 287 yards and will look for that same kind of production at Indiana.
The Hoosiers have shown an inability to stop opposing offenses on the ground. In a loss to Navy, the Indiana defense was totally dominated, giving up an unbelievable 444 yards on the ground. In their second loss of the season, the Hoosiers gave up 280 rushing yards to the Missouri Tigers.
Based on those numbers, the Penn State backs should be salivating at the thought of getting to face the Indiana defense.
The Penn State running game is led by three backs who all have different skill sets. Zach Zwinak, Akeel Lynch and Bill Belton have all had great seasons so far and will look to continue that trend against the Hoosiers.
Zwinak leads the Nittany Lions with 297 yards and eight touchdowns. Belton has bounced back after a disappointing season a year ago and has rushed for 253 yards with two touchdowns. Redshirt freshman Akeel Lynch has had the fewest carries of the three, but has racked up 263 rushing yards and a touchdown.
Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg is only entering his fifth game at the collegiate level. While he’s looked solid for most of the time, he’s also had some growing pains. A solid running game is one of the best things to help a young quarterback who is learning.
Hackenberg could also be in line for a big day, as Indiana struggles against the pass as well. However, since this game will probably be a high-scoring affair in which Penn State could build a sizeable lead, look for Zwinak and company to rule the day on the ground.
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