Five Factors – Penn State

Indiana did almost everything they needed to in order to win this game.  They essentially stopped the Penn State rushing game.  They made some big plays in the passing game.  In terms of equivalent points, both offenses performed equally.

Unfortunately, Indiana was plagued by turnovers for the 2nd week in a row.  Against a top 10 team, that was the difference, and one that the Hoosiers could not overcome.


isoPPP Explosive % Yards/play
INDIANA 1.4 14% 5.5
PENN STATE 1.5 20% 5.5

The one area that stood out in explosiveness was the Penn State passing game. As Mike mentioned in the WGOH, the Nittany Lions have made big plays in the air this year and Saturday was no exception. Of Trace McSorley’s 332 passing yards, 268 came on 8 explosive passes. Six of these occurred in the 2nd half as Penn State wore Indiana down.  McSorley now leads the FBS in yards per completion.

Of Barkely’s 33 rushes, 29 went for a total of 1 yard. The other 4 were explosive, although not the deflating type runs that Ezekiel Elliot had against the Hoosiers last year. His longest rush was just 21 yards. However, McSorley used his legs to record rushes of 10, 11, and 11.

Indiana finished with an explosive play percentage of 14%, just slightly above their 2016 average of 13%. However, it was the explosive passes that really went for big gains. That is evidenced by a passing isoPPP of 1.6 compared to 1.1 for the rushes. The higher number for the passes tells us that the explosive pass plays were more explosive than the rushes. Indeed, IU averaged 33 yards on their explosive passes compared to 16 on their rushes. Camion Patrick caught 2 of his 3 receptions for explosive plays including a 52 yard pass from Zander Diamont, Indiana’s longest play of the game.


All (close) Rushing (close) Passing (close)
INDIANA 38% 32% 43%
PENN STATE 33% 29% 39%

Neither rush offense had much in the way of efficiency. Indiana had a rush success rate of 32% and Penn State finished at 29%. For the Hoosiers, Devine Redding finished right at IU’s average of 32%. Tyler Natee actually finished at 50%, above his season average of 40%. All 6 of his carries occurred on 1st or 2nd down. Ricky Brookins converted a 1st down on his lone carry of the game.

Defensively, the Hoosiers shut down Saquon Barkley. As mentioned above, he gained a total of just 1 yard on 29 of his 33 rushes. The defensive line had great push which forced Barkley to adjust and gave the rest of the Indiana defense time to make a play in the backfield. He was tackled for a loss an incredible 12 times. Overall, the Nittany Lions rushing success rate was right in line with Indiana at 29%.

In the air, Indiana had a slightly better success rate than Penn State by a 43% to 39% margin. Where the Hoosiers really excelled was passing on passing downs. These are obvious passing downs, 2nd and 8 or longer or 3rd and 5 or longer, where the defense should have a slight advantage. However, Richard Lagow ignored any Nittany Lion upper hand with a 55% success rate on passing downs. These downs had an average distance to go of 10.6, yet Lagow went 14 of 20 for 225 yards while being sacked twice. Indiana picked up 12 first downs on 20 of those pass attempts. Penn State’s passing success rate on these downs was just 29%.

Field Position

Avg Starting FP

On average there was no major advantage for either team. Each team started 2 drives in opponent territory. Both of Indiana’s possessions followed McSorley interceptions. Penn State’s came after the Isaac James’s foot fumble and IU’s turnover on downs late in the game. Penn State also started one drive at their own 2 yard line following Indiana failed 4th and goal. I agreed with Wilson’s move to go for it there. Penn State was pinned back deep and despite gaining 35 yards on the drive, IU forced the punt and took over at their own 26. They subsequently scored a touchdown.  Against a top team with an explosive passing attack, it was worth the risk.

Finishing Drives

Scoring Opportunities Points Per Opportunity

While Indiana did forgo 3 points in an attempt to gain 7, they did score points on 5 of their 8 scoring opportunities. The ones that didn’t score were on fumbles by Mitchell Paige and Devonte Williams as well as the aforementioned failed fourth down conversion. It was the 6th time that IU has earned 8+ scoring opportunities. They are 4-2 in such games. Their 3.9 points per scoring opportunity was actually the third highest of the season which goes to show how much they’ve struggled in this area.

The 5.4 points per opportunity that Penn State scored was the 2nd highest allowed by IU this year. The 7 opportunities Indiana allowed tied for the most all season. When a top 10 opponent both earns a high number of opportunities as well as coverts them into points, it will be nearly impossible for IU to win.

Especially with Indiana’s…


Turnovers Turnover Points Added

The Hoosiers 5 turnovers negated any offensive advantage and tipped the scales to Penn State. These turnovers accounted for 24 equivalent points.1 The two biggest were the Lagow fumble sack and the James foot fumble. Those accounted for 12 equivalent points and led to 14 actual points. As has been mentioned in the media this week, IU can afford to overcome 4+ turnovers against a team like Rutgers. They cannot against a team like Penn State.

On the year, turnovers that IU has forced have averaged 4.2 equivalent points compared to 4.9 for their opponents. A good bit of that is due to their opponents taking 4 turnovers in for touchdowns. Indiana returned their first 2 turnovers of the season for touchdowns, but have returned none of the 14 since.