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STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — For the third time in five weeks, Indiana is butting heads with a highly ranked national power. This time it's No. 4 Penn State, in a night game under the lights at Beaver Stadium in Happy Valley.

It's going to be a loud and raucous crowd of more than 100,000 fans, and a national TV audience will be watching on ABC. For the 2-2 Hoosiers, this is another chance to make a statement, something they were able to do in losses to Iowa and Cincinnati in September. Iowa is currently ranked No. 5 in the Associated Press poll, and Cincinnati is No. 7.

Penn State is 4-0 and a heavy favorite to beat Indiana on Saturday night, most recently a 12.5-point favorite on the SISportsbook.com website. But Indiana has played Penn State tough the past several including, including that dramatic overtime victory to open the 2020 season in Bloomington,

Here are three things I want to see from the Hoosiers tonight in what should be a tremendous venue for college football:

1. Continued improvement from Michael Penix Jr. 

The edict to quarterback Michael Penix Jr. from above was to just have fun. Indiana's quarterback, who's coming off a second ACL injury, had been pressing a bit early, throwing three interceptions in both losses to Iowa and Cincinnati. He'd never done that once in his career, and then he did it twice in three weeks,

But last week, he got into a good rhythm and completed 35 passes against Western Kentucky, a career high. He also threw for 373 yards, the second-highest total in his career, topping only by that masterful 491-yard performance last year at Penn State.

What helped with that comfort level was having senior wide receiver Ty Fryfogle move into the slot after D.J. Matthews got hurt. Fryfogle, who's a great route runner, was open all night and Penix found him 10 times. Five of those game on third downs to move the chains.

Penix just needs to be patient against Penn State's defense and take what they give him. He can't force things, and he's been clear that he's learned that after the two losses and lots of film study. Do that, and the Hoosiers will score some points on Saturday night.

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2. Cornerbacks need to get some picks

Through four games thus far, Indiana's ball-hawking cornerbacks don't have a single interception. That needs to change on Saturday night.

Jaylin Williams (4), Tiawan Mullen (3) and Reese Taylor (1) were thieves a year ago, and Indiana did a great job of turning their interceptions into points. Indiana had 17 interceptions in eight games, leading the country in picks per game. Williams, who left last week's game with a concussion, has cleared all protocols all week and Indiana coach Tom Allen expects him to play on Saturday night.

So far this year, Indiana has had only one interception in four games, with that one coming from Husky Marcelino Ball. The corners haven't had one yet. Penn State has a veteran quarterback in Sean Clifford, and he's got a great receiving corps. They'll be a good test, but the Hoosiers can handle that challenge. They'll need to flip the field.

Clifford has thrown 18 interceptions in his career, including two last year in Indiana's 36-35 overtime win. They need at least two more on Saturday night.

3. Handle the environment

Beaver Stadium is going to be on fire Saturday night. It's one of the more iconic places in college football anyway, but it really comes alive at night, and Saturday night they're having a "Stripe-Out,'' which will have an intimidating look as well.

Indiana has worked hard at simulating crowd noise all week, and they have hand signals that they use to audible out of plays. Players and coaches alike said that playing in a hostile environment at Iowa will help prepare for Beaver Stadium, and playing a game at night last week at Western Kentucky helps with preparing for the long daily routine of a night game.

Penn State is No. 4 in the country for a reason, but Indiana has moved the ball well against them in the past few years. Despite the two losses, the Hoosiers have remained confident and they feel like they can come on the road and play well.

They can, but they'll need to handle the environment well and not let it affect their play, It's a big ask, but it can be done.

  • HOW TO WATCH: Here's everything you need to know on how to watch Saturday night's Indiana-Penn State game, including game time, TV, the latest on the point spread and so much more. CLICK HERE
  • CAM JONES UP FOR ANY CHALLENGE AT INDIANA: Indiana recruited Cam Jones on the offensive side of the ball, but once he arrived on campus, Tom Allen knew Jones would be a good addition to the Hoosiers' defense. CLICK HERE
  • WHAT MICAH MCFADDEN AND CAM JONES SAID ON PODCAST: Indiana linebacker Micah McFadden brought along his running mate, fellow linebacker Cam Jones, for the Mike & Micah podcast at Yogi's Bar & Grill on Tuesday night. CLICK HERE
  • D.J. MATTHEWS OUT FOR SEASON: Florida State transfer D.J. Matthews has been Indiana's best player the first three weeks of the season, but a torn ACL in his left knee during the Western Kentucky game on Saturday has ended his season. It's be a big blow for Indiana's receiving corps and special teams group. CLICK HERE
  • POINT SPREAD: Indiana is a big underdog in its game with Penn State on Saturday night in Happy Valley. Here's the latest. CLICK HERE