But the Hoosiers simply played better.
Sudfeld threw two touchdown passes, Roberson ran for two more scores and the Hoosiers ended a 16-game losing streak in the series, which dated to 1993.
Indiana won its Big Ten opener for the first time since 2000, closed the longest opening home stand (five games) in school history with a winning record and hoisted the victory flag on the nation's tallest flagpole before hitting the road for their first two road games.
"It's a big win," Roberson said. "This IU 2013 team is in the history books."
Fans celebrated with a loud roar as the clock ran out and an even louder roar when the final score was announced on the public-address system, though Indiana's players took a more traditional tack.
They walked across the field to shake hands with Penn State (3-2, 0-1), then returned to the student section to pump their helmets as they sung the school fight song before jogging back to the locker room.
But this was not just another win, though.
Eight times since 2002, the Hoosiers have won fewer than two games in conference play. Now they have seven chances to distance themselves from that mark, and the team that showed up Saturday looked like a drastically different one from before the bye week.
Even the much-maligned Hoosiers defense did its part.
After allowing 32.8 points and ranking 115th out of 123 Football Bowl Subdivision teams against the run (247.8 yards) through five games, the Hoosiers held Penn State to its second-lowest point total of the season and just 70 yards rushing on 38 carries.
Sudfeld played the entire first half, helping the Hoosiers build a 13-7 halftime lead, and then drove Indiana to the go-ahead score midway through the third quarter before occasionally turning things over to Roberson.
The junior wasted no time becoming a factor. He got into the end zone the first three times he touched the ball --on a 2-point conversion run that made 21-14, on a 2-yard TD run that finally gave the crowd hope the Hoosiers might finally win and on a resounding 9-yard TD run that all but sealed the game with 10½ minutes to go.