Lions Roar Late to Extend Winning Streak and Climb a Spot in Rankings

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Penn State Nittany Lions fans have every right to be equally hopeful and fearful these days. The squad has put together an amazing string of victories after beginning the year 2-2, but anytime they are locked into a competitive game in the second half, blood pressures understandably rise given just how much is on the line.

The squad went into their matchup against the Hoosiers in Indiana having won six games in a row, but the score was tied at halftime and the Hoosiers took a three-point lead into the fourth quarter.

In the final 15 minutes, PSU absolutely exploded, scoring 24 points and leaving town with a 45-31 victory. Despite the high score, it turned out to be a grind-it-out affair for the boys from Happy Valley. Heisman Trophy-contender Saquan Berkeley was held to just 60 yards on a workmanlike 33 carries, but his totals did include two important rushing touchdowns. Take away his 21-yard gain, and he actually ran for just 39 yards on 32 carries – a total that would be historically dismal were it not for the sizable gain.

Quarterback Trace McSorley passed for 332 yards on just 16 completions, but suffered his first multi-interception game this season. Coincidentally, both squads racked up exactly 20 first downs throughout an afternoon that featured plenty of offensive production. The ultimate story was the fact that the Hoosiers fumbled five times and lost every single one to the Nittany Lions.

These turnovers proved especially costly in the final frame, when Penn State pulled away and continued to give their fans hope that they can actually finish in the top half dozen teams in the nation if things go right over the last few weeks. They are ranked #9 in the most recent AP polls.

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Huge Bowl Game Awaits if Penn State beats Indiana and Runs the Board

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The Penn State Nittany Lions are 7-2 after a 41-14 victory over the Iowa Hawkeyes at home. This pushes the win streak to five in a row, dating back to when they knocked off the then-undefeated Minnesota Golden Gophers on the first Saturday in October.

There are but three games left this year, and victories over Indiana, Rutgers and Michigan State could put the Nittany Lions in a perfect position to have a major impact on the 2016 holiday bowl season.

If only they had not lost a heartbreaking three-point game at Pittsburgh in early September, Penn State might be banging the drum and making their case for being ranked in the top five.

But it is better to focus on reality than theoretical situations, and the reality is that the squad can completely re-galvanize a fan base that has been hungry for a winner and a perennial championship contender.

Head coach James Franklin has made all the right moves over the course of the last five Saturdays, but the team need not get ahead of themselves before they make a visit to Indiana to take on a sometimes dangerous Hoosiers squad.

Now ranked at #12 nationally, PSU has a strong offense, a stout defense and a very special special teams. By the numbers, this game seems to be more difficult for Penn State than many fans would imagine. The Nittany Lions have the 59th-ranked overall offensive nation and the 32nd-ranked overall defense.

Conversely, the Hoosiers have the 35th-overall ranked offense and the 51st-overall ranked defense. These numbers bode well for the squad from Indiana, and they have been putting up just short of 300 yards per game through the air.

This means that once again quarterback Trace McSorley and running back Saquon Barkley will have to initiate substantial offense in order to neutralize any momentum that Indiana hopes to create with designs to upset a squad on a sizable winning streak against very quality opponents. Again, Penn State finds themselves 6 1/2 point favorites in Vegas, which boded very well for them against Ohio two weekends ago in Happy Valley.

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Nittany Lions Trounce Iowa Hawkeyes, Run Win Streak to 5 Games

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Penn State rattled off their fifth consecutive impressive victory on Saturday evening with a 41-14 win over the Iowa Hawkeyes in Happy Valley. A numerical palindrome outcome is always fun, especially when your team is on the higher end of it.

Offensive leaders Trace McSorley and Saquon Berkeley gave all in attendance plenty of reasons to be cheerful throughout a dominating 60-minute performance that has catapulted the squad near the top 10 of the overall rankings. This is truly surprising given that they began the year 2-2, and were reeling after a 49-10 loss in Ann Arbor against the Michigan Wolverines on the final Saturday of September.

The uptick squad now stands on the doorstep of representing the Big 10 East if things go their way over the final few weeks. Barkley’s hoofprints were all over the field after he scored on a huge touchdown run in the first quarter and caught a 44-yard touchdown in the second quarter.

Iowa came into the game determined to stack the box and prevent the run, but the Nittany Lions offensive attack basically rendered their plan obsolete. Third-down efficiency was huge, as Penn State converted on 50% of their attempts and Iowa achieved the sticks just twice in 10 attempts.

Net yards were also incredibly lopsided, as Penn State racked up just 1 yard short of 600 on the day and Iowa ran 52 plays for a total of 234 yards.

Penn State now stands on the doorstep of putting themselves in major contention for not only the Big 10, but a major bowl game with upcoming winnable games on the road against Indiana and Rutgers, and a finale at home against Michigan State.

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Penn State versus Iowa Has Quickly Becoming Huge Conference Showdown

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The Nittany Lions will return home to Happy Valley on the wings of a four-game winning streak after having trounced Purdue in Indiana. They face an Iowa Hawkeyes squad that is 5-3 on the year and extremely hungry for a victory that would keep their hopes of entering a respectable bowl game intact.

State has as much confidence as they have had in nearly a decade after knocking off Ohio State two Saturdays ago and scoring 62 points on the road this past weekend. The offense is clicking, and running back Saquon Berkeley is quickly running himself into Heisman Trophy contention. Sophomore quarterback Trace McSorley is coming along far more quicker than former quarterback Christian Hackenberg did to this point in his career, and that has also bode well for a team that is clearly hitting their stride.

Iowa is always a gritty team that very rarely loses a game by more than a touchdown. They have coaching that knows how to matchup against opponents and neutralize their strengths while exploiting their weaknesses.

It is actually no secret that the Hawkeyes will be loading the box and hoping to shut down Barkley at the line of scrimmage, forcing McSorley into a situation where he will have to throw far more than his typical number of passes. McSorley has only thrown more than 27 passes once over the last six games after averaging 33 passes per game through the first two.

But all signs indicate that he is ready to do just that. The 6′ 0″ Virginia native can really put his name into the minds of NFL scouts with a solid performance against an always stout Iowa defense this weekend. The Nittany Lions are an eight point favorite in this game, a clear nod to just how far they have come over the course of the last month and a half.

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Nittany Lions Flex Muscles in Second Half Romp of Purdue

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Penn State Football fans are riding a high they have not experienced in several years after their fourth consecutive victory. Savvy fans were a bit nervous that there could be a hangover after three consecutive home games and a gigantic win over then-#2-ranked Ohio State in Happy Valley on the evening of October 22.

The Nittany Lions did sleepwalk just a bit through the first half in West Lafayette against the Purdue Boilermakers, but they utilized a gigantic second half to pull away and leave town with an attention-grabbing 62-24 victory.

It sets the stage for four final conference games that are all entirely winnable.

In a game where a team racks up north of 60 points – including 45 in the second half – there are likely to be some eye-popping statistics generated. Running back Saquon Barkley tallied 207 yards on the ground and two touchdowns by way of 18 carries, as well as 70 yards via three receptions. He was the go-to target all afternoon for a Penn State offense that has been clicking as of late.

Quarterback Trace McSorley continued to impress, going an efficient 12 for 23 through the air for 228 yards and three touchdowns. Once again, he did not throw an interception.

All the talking heads went into this year yapping about how much head coach James Franklin needed a “signature win.” That obviously came last week against the Buckeyes, and he is hoping to get another one this upcoming weekend against Iowa. If PSU prevails victorious, it will set the stage for them to run the board and finish the year with a very impressive mark of 10-2. Especially impressive given that they began the season 2-2.