By Arielle Sargent, GoPSUSports.com
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State's road win on Saturday featured no shortage of resilient performances and gutsy plays as the Nittany Lions rallied past Indiana.
A quick glance at the score sheet from Saturday's win doesn't do Saquon Barkley's performance justice. With 58 yards on 33 carries and 98 all-purpose yards, one might argue that it was perhaps one of his least productive outings this year.
That's far from the case though, as Barkley opened the game grabbing a 32-yard catch from quarterback Trace McSorley on third-and-7 to set Penn State up for a touchdown on the opening drive.
While the Hoosier defense looked to bottle up his dynamic play, Barkley broke free for a 12-yard carry on the first attempt of Penn State's opening drive of the fourth quarter. Following McSorley's 54-yard pass to DaeSean Hamilton, Barkley was back at it. It didn't come easy though as he was pushed back for a loss of one before running in for the 4-yard touchdown.
With Indiana leading, 31-28, with nearly seven minutes to go, Barkley ran for 13 yards out to put Penn State on the Indiana 2-yard line before running in for the go-ahead touchdown.
"The only thing that kept going through my head was patience, patience and taking care of the ball and ball security," Barkley said. "As a running back not everything is going to go your way, they did a really good job with the game plan."
Barkley's 13 rushing touchdowns are the most for a Nittany Lions since Larry Johnson had 20 in 2002 and also rank eighth in Penn State program history. Barkley's 15 total touchdowns this year (13 rushing, 2 receiving) are ranked first in the Big Ten and ninth nationally, respectively.
He's also atop the Big Ten standings averaging 142.10 all-purpose yards in addition to 1,113 rushing yards and 111.3 rushing yards per game.
Explosive Plays When It Matters
McSorley enters the week atop the FBS standings in passing yards per completion, averaging 15.93 ypc. On the year, McSorley has completed 40 passes for at least 20 yards, including six against the Hoosiers.
As Penn State struggled with its run game against the Hoosiers, Franklin noted postgame that he was pleased with the poise of the offense in long yardage situations.
"I thought the most important thing we did was, we didn't panic, our defense kept us in the game so we didn't have to get in a situation where we are chucking it every down," Franklin said. "It was a gutsy, gutsy win on the road."
Defense Does It Again
As Franklin noted, Penn State's defense remained calm and confident under pressure. Penn State's rejuvenated linebacker unit combined for 1.5 sacks, highlighted by Brandon Bell's fourth-quarter sack that led to Indiana's fifth fumble of the day before defensive end Torrence Brown scooped up the loose ball for the 9-yard touchdown.
Perhaps one of the most pivotal defensive plays came in the third quarter, where Indiana intercepted a McSorley pass before driving to the 1-yard line. With the Hoosiers leading 17-14 on fourth-and-goal, a diving Brandon Smith broke up Indiana quarterback Richard Lagow's pass intended for Nick Westbrook in the end zone.
Quick Look At Rutgers
Penn State travels to Rutgers for its second consecutive week on the road. The Nittany Lions square off against the Scarlet Knights in their third night game of the season, with kickoff set for 8 p.m. on BTN. With Penn State on a six-game winning streak, Rutgers enters the matchup looking to snap its seven-game skid.