No doubt about it, Penn State has been banged up this season. Freshman running back sensation Saquon Barkley and veteran RB Akeel Lynch have missed considerable time. So have left offensive tackle Andrew Nelson, safety Marcus Allen, linebacker Brandon Bell and backup defensive end Evan Schwan. Center Angelo Mangiro got hurt last week against Army, status unknown. And let’s not forget middle linebacker Nyeem Wartman-White, lost for the season in the opener against Temple.
But the Nittany Lions also have benefited from injuries and other factors that have thinned out some of their opponents.
Penn State faced a Rutgers team a few weeks ago missing its top receiver, both starting cornerbacks and other key players due to suspension and dismissals. Also absent for the Scarlet Knights was their head coach, Kyle Flood, suspended three games for impermissable contact with a faculty member. By the way, the receiver, Leonte Carroo, was reinstated this week after an assault charge against him was thrown out in court.
Army came into Beaver Stadium last week without its quarterback and leading rusher, Ahmad Bradshaw, the trigger man for its effective and unfamiliar triple option. His replacement, A.J. Schurr, had a long touchdown run, but had trouble hanging on to the ball and lost 45 yards on runs and scrambles. He threw a nifty 32-yard pass to set up a touchdown, but that was his only throw of the game. Clearly, Bradshaw was missed.
Saturday, Indiana is Penn State’s Homecoming opponent with the status of its two key offensive players questionable. Quarterback Nate Sudfeld and running back Jordan Howard both suffered ankle injuries and were knocked out of last week’s 34-27 loss to No. 1 Ohio State. Sudfeld’s replacement, Zander Diamont, ripped off a 79-yard touchdown run, but the Hoosiers are better with Sudfeld, who is second in the Big Ten in total offense and third in passing efficiency.
Howard, meanwhile, was held to 34 yards on 14 carries before he departed, but his 709 rushing yards is still good enough for sixth in Division 1. The Hoosiers also will be missing Darius Latham, their best defensive lineman, who was suspended for a second time this season the week of the Ohio State game for undisclosed reasons.