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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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