BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- No. 10 Penn State found itself in familiar territory, once again trailing by double digits in the second half, during Saturday's Big Ten struggle at Indiana.
It's the third time the Nittany Lions have been in that situation this season, but they once again showed resilience despite relying on a quarterback hobbled by a sore left ankle, plugging new bodies into an injury ravaged offensive line and sticking with a running game that was stuffed for much of the afternoon.
What has become obvious about Penn State is the ability to endure in the fourth quarter, which the Nittany Lions did by outscoring the host Hoosiers 24-7 for a 45-31 triumph at Memorial Stadium.
Penn State (8-2, 6-1 in the Big Ten) has won six consecutive conference games for the first time since 1994. A big reason for that is a 128-55 scoring advantage in the final quarter.
"It's just that mentality this team has, that never say die, never quit attitude," said sophomore quarterback Trace McSorley, who had to have that ankle re-taped in the second quarter but passed for 332 yards with two touchdowns and a rushing score.
"Yeah, we were down 10. We've been down by double digits multiple times late in games. But there's never that kind of feeling that, 'We can't come back from this.' There's not one person on this team that thinks that we're not going to come back from things like that."
Chris Godwin caught both of McSorley's touchdown passes, the second covering 21 yards to start a third-quarter comeback from 24-14 down.
Penn State kept alive its East Division title hopes and a remote chance to earn a berth in the conference championship game. It's going to take a lot of help, though, considering No. 3 Michigan (9-0, 6-0) and No. 6 Ohio State (8-1, 5-1) stand in the way.
Unranked Indiana (5-5, 3-4) was in position to become bowl eligible for the second consecutive year, something that hasn't happened since 1990 and 1991.
And that was despite losing five fumbles, four in the first half.
"As hard as we play and as proud as you are and as much as you love them, we've got to finish better," Indiana coach Kevin Wilson said.
That Penn State did.
They Nittany Lions had only one offensive lineman still in the same place as when the season started, but the Nittany Lions kept slamming away with sophomore running back Saquon Barkley.
So many times, he didn't go anywhere as Indiana tied a 1998 school record with 16 tackles for losses. But the passing lanes eventually opened up with man-to-man coverage.
"I think a lot of that falls to how much of a threat Saquon is and how strong our running game can be if you don't put more hats in the box," McSorley said.
"Sometimes, that's part of it. You've got to put hats in the box and blitz and that's a high-risk, high-reward type defense."
Barkley scored two go-ahead touchdowns in the final quarter, the latter on a 2-yard run to put the Nittany Lions ahead for good at 35-31 with 3:58 remaining. He finished with 60 rushing yards on 33 carries.
"Personally, nah, I've never had a day like this," Barkley said.
Not that he minded, considering the outcome.
"No matter if you rush for 200 yards or rush for 20 yards, as long as you get a win, that's the only thing that matters to me," Barkley said.
Indiana junior running back Devine Redding found more running room as he matched Barkley's two scores and finished with 108 yards on 23 carries.
"We have to get the mojo back," Redding said of blowing a 10-point lead.
Hoosiers quarterback Richard Lagow passed for 292 yards, including touchdowns to Ricky Jones and Nick Westbrook.
"If we eliminate the turnovers, it would be a different game," Lagow said.
All is not lost for Indiana. A challenging trip against Michigan awaits, but the Hoosiers can still make themselves bowl eligible when they conclude the regular season with rival Purdue (3-7, 1-6) traveling to Bloomington for the Old Oaken Bucket game.
"Appreciate the effort, love the guys, but it was a tough loss," Wilson said.
NOTES: Indiana had only four lost fumbles in nine games this season before losing four in the first half. The Hoosiers also had four giveaways in last week's comeback victory at Rutgers. ... When quarterback Trace McSorley exited briefly in the second quarter to get his left ankle wrapped, his replacement was redshirt freshman Tommy Stevens, who initially committed to Indiana in 2014. Stevens changed his mind two days after the Nittany Lions defeated the Hoosiers 13-7 in Bloomington. ... In the last two Decembers, both schools represented the Big Ten in overtime outcomes at the New Era Pinstripe Bowl. Indiana lost 44-41 to Duke last year. Penn State defeated Boston College 31-30 in 2014. ... Indiana hasn't defeated two ranked opponents in a season since 2004, when Gerry DiNardo's Hoosiers (3-8) upset a pair of 24th-ranked opponents, Minnesota at home and Oregon on the road.