Penn State successfully negotiated Blue October. We won a tough-fought game against Ohio State and came home from Columbus feeling pretty good about ourselves. Then we had the bye week to take in some of the national scene, and it wasn't pretty. People are telling us we are undeserving as a contender. We have no right to play for the national championship. We've had two weeks to listen to the media tell us we aren't very good. We watched Texas Tech jump us in the polls. On top of that, Iowa has a little mojo going and Shonn Greene is starting to get some good publicity. Add it all together and a lot of people are feeling uneasy about this game tomorrow. Let's see how the staff at BSD sees the game playing out.
It's been a long two weeks and unfortunately my confidence isn't handling the break as well as I hoped. After the Ohio State game the world had been won, but now all of the sudden the Iowa game looms and they have the defense and running threat to make things interesting. I was further troubled by the release of the spread, just 7.5 points, and news about the pending Qween's Weather.
The key matchup, as is often the case, is going to be how well our offensive line can neutralize Iowa's talented front four. If they can be blocked well, our talent and varied attack should be enough to keep their bland linebackers at bay. If Royster isn't getting his 4-7 ypc early, things are going to get interesting. In a bad way.
I think Paterno might have gained a little more confidence in his customary no-mistakes-allowed road strategy. I'm not comforted by this. Against Ohio State, where the talent level was high, it seemed to neutralize big plays and let our o-line control the game. Against Iowa, in the snow, the increased likelihood of bad passes, muffed punts and fumbled footballs screws up the formula. I want to see us attack, like we did against Wisconsin, with several deep balls early and an aggressive defense. I still think this one is a squeaker, and I don't plan on being able to take a deep breath until very late in the game.
Penn State 20, Iowa 13
It's a tricky game, not a trap game. If Penn State can get a 10-14 point lead early in the game, it's over for Iowa. Unfortunately, the Lions will likely try to build that lead through plenty of handoffs to Evan Royster and short passes. As of now, tomorrow afternoon's wind is supposed to be 20mph or more from the west -- that's a cross-wind at Kinnick Stadium. Longer field goals and passes could get ugly. Still, Penn State shouldn't retreat into its shell -- it's more than worthwhile to take a few downfield shots in scenarios where receivers can spot the ball in the air earlier than the defenders, then make the proper adjustments for the catch.
If that fails, we're in for a nailbiter. Penn State is going to win this game, however, because Iowa won't be able to block Penn State's defensive ends. Remember that Iowa gave up six sacks last week against Illinois, and Ricky Stanzi recklessly sprayed the ball all over the field. It'll likely be close at halftime, but Penn State's defensive line will force Stanzi to do bad, bad things in the second half, and the Lions will have enough offense convert those opportunities into points.
It won't be pretty. On the road, it rarely is.
Penn State 27 Iowa 16
Have we all forgotten this is the team that went into Wisconsin and spanked the Badgers? Have we all forgotten this is the team that was tagging 45 points on everyone outside of Ohio? Last time I checked Iowa is not in Ohio.
I expect Penn State will come out slow like they usually do on the road. But like a ball rolling down hill they'll gain more momentum as the game continues. Iowa is a one dimensional team offensively. And it's the one dimension Tom Bradley defenses never have a problem stopping. Shonn Green is not going to rush for 150 yards on us unless they give him 50 carries. I don't think he'll get 75 yards. Tom Bradley won't let that happen. If Iowa wants to win they are going to have to throw the ball. And I don't think Rick Stanzi can beat us.
Their defense is respectable, but they haven't faced a balanced offense like Penn State. This is the same team Penn State beat 27-7 last year. Rodney Kinlaw had 168 yards rushing and Evan Royster chipped in 86. And it's not like Iowa shot themselves in the foot. They only had 41 penalty yards and no turnovers. Penn State should dominate this team on talent alone.
Penn State 31 Iowa 10