Matt McGloin went out in the 2011 season and, as unlikely as it may have been, won the Penn State starting quarterback job over and over until there was finally no way to keep it from him any longer.
McGloin is stringing together unlikely wins again in 2012.
The West Scranton graduate already was playing the most important position on the field for the Nittany Lions. Now, he has become one of their most important players because of his performance as well.
McGloin can‚??t be accused of simply filling the role of managing the game for a program that once relied on its defense and running game.
In the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky scandal, having fewer weapons -- in particular receivers -- with which to work, Penn State should not be winning in the Big Ten against unbeaten and nationally ranked teams when it could not win its first two non-league games of the season.
But that is exactly what the Nittany Lions did last week, when McGloin went 13-for-15 passing in the fourth quarter to lead the comeback in a 39-28 win over Northwestern.
McGloin‚??s passing to an inexperienced group of receivers, including emerging star Allen Robinson, has helped Penn State put together the improbable four-game winning streak it carried into the midseason break with this weekend off.
McGloin threw a touchdown pass to Robinson for the first of three touchdowns in a 22-0 Penn State fourth quarter. He continued his knack for making the most of limited running skills by picking his spot for a game-winning, 5-yard touchdown run.
The two drives McGloin led with his team in a fourth-quarter hole covered 82 yards in 18 plays and 85 yards in 15 plays.
McGloin‚??s rise from former walk-on, and Penn State‚??s obstacles after NCAA sanctions that have made a bowl trip impossible this year, have been well-documented.
What was left of the Penn State offense and the way it has performed, particularly at the quarterback position, make McGloin‚??s dramatic, ongoing improvement every bit as impressive as him getting any shot at this job in the first place.
‚??He‚??s a great kid, fun kid to coach,‚?Ě first-year Penn State coach Bill O‚??Brien told reporters after the Northwestern game. ‚??I love coaching competitive people and he‚??s a very competitive guy.‚?Ě
He‚??s a very competitive guy who has thrived since being given undisputed control of the new-look Penn State offense by O‚??Brien.
McGloin will leave State College among the leaders in career passing in most categories. Those numbers get a boost each week in a stellar senior season.
Through six games, McGloin has completed 61.5 percent of his passes while throwing 12 touchdowns and just two interceptions. He is 136-for-221 for 1,499 yards, producing a 134 efficiency rating on the NCAA scale where 100.0 is average.
Along the way, McGloin has even run for a team-high five touchdowns.
O‚??Brien said there were reasons McGloin could lead the second-half comeback against Northwestern.
‚??Matt‚??s done a really nice job of coming in at halftime and staying relaxed and calm and taking the coaching from Charlie (Fisher) and myself,‚?Ě O‚??Brien said. ‚??He understands the things we talk about at halftime -- we have to do this better or that better.
‚??He understands it‚??s a 60-minute game. He‚??s grown up a lot. When you‚??re a senior and playing your last few games here at Penn State, that means a lot to him.‚?Ě
McGloin‚??s performance is a big reason why Penn State can still be looking ahead to those final few games of the season with optimism.